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Franschhoek  Tutored Tasting
Richard Duckitt - Sun 8th June 2014

Nestled between towering mountains in the beautiful Cape winelands lies the magnificent Franschhoek Valley. This is the wine heartland of South Africa, where splendid wines are made.

It was established by French Huguenots who fled their homeland after they were persecuted for being protestant. Over 320 years ago many of them arrived by ship at the Cape of Good Hope. Some of them were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Oliphantshoek (Elephant’s Corner) – so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. Soon after they settled here, it became known as Franschhoek (French Corner) and brought with them their age-old French wine and food culture. Spectacular vineyards now cover these mountains.

Village Wines sell Franschhoek Cellar’s superb range of wines. We invited customers to come to a lunch to sample the delights of all their wines accompanied by matching food. Richard Duckitt from Franschoek was the host.

Look out for the next tutored tasting on our website.

Russ Village Wines Proprietor,with his wife Jane and Richard Duckitt from Franschhoek.

Guests enjoying the food and Franschoek Cellar's wine with Richard looking on. Looks like they enjoyed themselves.

Richard posing with Lisa

Tutored Tasting Sunday 12th May 2014
with Philippe Brugnon and Julian White

Following our successful tasting last year Philippe Brugnon our favourite champagne producer once again shared the secrets of his premier cru status vineyards, located in Rilly la Montagne in the heart of Champagne country.

Our guests tasted his range of superb wines, from the non vintage brut, through to the delightful rosé made (usually) 100% pinot noir grapes. Guests had the opportunity to compare his current vintage champagne to a selection of back vintages. Philippe prides himself on producing wines of great finesse and freshness. A light buffet was provided to show off the different champagnes compatability with food.

As a bonus Philippe was accompanied by Julian White, the British Ambassador of La Conferie du Sabre d'Or . They displayed the ancient technique of removing the cork from the champagne bottle with a sabre (Sabrage). Here follows some photographs taken on the occasion.

A guest with a sabre taking aim to remove the cork by slicing through the neck of the bottle.Philippe is holding the bottle.

Another guest having just completed the sabrage.

Another guest being knighted into the ancient order of the sabrage after having successfully removed the cork.

Guests being offered a top-up by Julian White, the Ambassador of La Confrerie du Sabre d'Or.

and again

Christmas Tasting in the shop
1st December 2013

Once again we celebrated the coming of Christmas with a grand tasting held in our shop. As you can see the shop was full with enthusiastic wine drinkers. Here are some pictures of the day. Good wine good conversation and some Christmas food to accompany the wine.

As this is an annual event look out on the home page of our website for an invitation to our 2014 free tasting.

Visit to Chateau de l'Engarran
16th August 2013

Two of our colleagues Dennis and Keith with their wives Mary and Shirley visited another of our favourite winemakers namely Chateau de l'Engarran in August this year. They were welcomed by their guide Marion Barrachina in the Chateau's shop. After the introductions she took them into the museum where they saw many of the ancient tools of a winemakers trade. From there they explored the estate. First they went to the front of the chateau and strolled through the manicured garden in the hot sun up to the entrance gates. The gates feature on some of their wine labels. On their way to the well-kept grounds at the rear of the chateau they passed through the stables where the family once kept the horses for riding. The working horses were stabled elsewhere on the estate at this time. The "back garden" is decorated with many old statues complete with an ornamental fish-filled pond. Some of the statues along with sculpted figures on the walls of the chateau feature in the remainder of the wine labels.

They finished their tour by going back to the shop and meeting Isabelle Bely the sommelier and sampling their wonderful wines from the vins de pays to the AOC.

The chateau, which was founded in 1632 as a wine estate by Henri d'Engarran in Laverune a village near Montpellier. Later the chateau was designed and built by Jean Vassal around1750 on the foundations of the original mediaeval building. It is part of a necklace "collier" of chateaux built in the 17th and 18th centuries. They follow the same style (folie) circling around the ancient university city of Montpelier in the Herault department of Languedoc-Roussillon. The nobles of the city wanted to show off their wealth copying the example of the Louis XIV, the sun king, who had the Palace of Versailles built outside the walls of Paris. King Louis admired the entrance gates to the chateau. All these chateaux have parks in their grounds. Most of them are open to the public.

It is part of the Saint-Georges-d'Orques viticultural area which includes the village of Saint-Georges- d'Orques and four of its neighbours: Laverune, Juvignac, Murviel-les-Montpellier and Pignan.

The present winemakers are the fifth generation of the Grill family presently led by two sisters Diane Losfelt (wine maker) and Constance Rérolle (sales manager). They are passionate about winemaking

The two scuptures either side of the main entrance to the chateau are known as the Atlantes (plural of Atlas the strong man). They decorate the label of its highest quality red wine Quetton Saint Georges

Shirley and Keith listening to our guide Marion Barrachina.

The Entrance Gate

The rear of the chateau showing the sculptures over the windows

The back garden from the terrace showing the fish -filled pool and some of the statues. They are over 200 years old.

Marion explaining to Shirley and Dennis what the sculptures depict on the back wall of the chateau. The three female sculptures showing the three ages of life decorate the centre windows. Below are close ups.

The sculpture above is found above the door. It represents a child, symbol of fertility,roses, and the arms of Jean Vassal, the builder of the chateau. This is the portrait found on the label of the Engarran Sainte Cécile vintage.

A young girl bears on her brow fruit full of the promise of life. Her eyelids lowered in modesty try to conceal an eager gaze into the future.

This a a toothless and wrinkled old lady still smiling and enjoying life.

This statue in the garden is known as The Greedy Lionesse enjoying a bunch of grapes.

A vaulted room beside the tasting cellar houses the Engarran wine museum containing the tools and machines which have been used since 1885 in the vineyards and winery of the chateau. All these items are evidence of past working methods in grape and wine production and illustrate the ancestral traditions of Engarran.

Marion Barrachina our guide with Isabelle Bely the chateau's sommelier

Joy and love will guarantee the noble wine of Engarran.

Tutored Tasting 12th May 2013

Our favourite champagne producer, Philippe Brugnon shared the secrets of his premier cru status vineyards with 20 guests at our shop. They all tasted his range of superb wines, from the non vintage brut, through to the delightful rosé made (usually) 100% pinot noir grapes. Guests had the opportunity to compare his current vintage champagne to a selection of back vintages. Philippe prides himself on producing wines of great finesse and freshness. A light buffet was provided to show off the different champagnes compatability with food.

As a bonus Philippe was accompanied by Julian White, the British Ambassador of La Conferie du Sabre d'Or and the German Ambassador.They displayed the ancient technique of removing the cork from the champagne bottle with a sabre (Sabrage). Here follows some photographs taken on the occasion.

Lisa performing the "Sabrage" with Julian White the UK Ambassador of the Conferie du Sabre d'Or (Brotherhood of the Golden Sabre). Sabrage is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a sabre. The sabre is slid along the body of a chilled bottle to break the neck away from the bottle, leaving only the base of the bottle open and ready to pour. The force of the blade hitting the lip at the top of the bottle and the internal pressure breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck. This technique was used by the light cavalry (the Hussars) in Napoleon's Army . The sabre was the weapon of choice.

Rachel being knighted by the German Ambassador Conferie du Sabre d'Or after successfully with Philippe Brugnon looking on.

Jenna performing the "Sabrage" with the German Ambassador

Philippe Brugnonwith Nick preparing to swing the sabre

Philippe knighting John

Now for the tasting and dining table 1

Now for the tasting and dining table 2

New Wines For 2013

We have 24 new wines on offer for 2013 from France, Germany, Spain, Argentina and Chile. The prices range from less than £6 to £12.

The new Chilean wines are made by Ventisquero who have built a brand new carbon zero foot print state of the art winery. Their vineyards are 100% estate owned all of which have coastal cool climate - see picture opposite. Their impressive wine making team is headed by ex- Penfold’s (Australia’s most prestigious estate) chief winemaker “John Duval”. We believe they are distinctive high quality wines. Take a look

Our other new Chilean wines come from the Lapostolle estate which was founded in 1994 by French families Marnier (owners of Grand Marnier) and Lapostolle from Sancerre. Their motto “French in essence, Chilean by birth” sums up the style of this prestigious estate perfectly. Great wine at value for money prices. Take a look.

The two new Argentinian white wines come from Trapiche which is located in Mendoza at the foothills of the Andes mountains .We have selected them from their Astica range. Astica means "flower" in the original language of the Huarpes. The grapes come from the Cuyo region.The wines produced from are made in their honourand are suitable for daily consumption. Take a look


Customers Ruth and Michael Nash told us that they were going to take a holiday in South Africa with friends in February. They enquired if we could recommend a good vineyard to visit. We were only too pleased to suggest Boschendal and Franschhoek vineyards. With the help of both Estates we arranged tutored tastings at both locations. The following few photographs have been kindly sent to us by Mike and Ruth as a momento of their visit.

The Boschendal Entrance Sign (meaning in Dutch - Wood Dale)

The Franschhoek Wine Cellar (meaning in Dutch - French Corner)

The Nash Party sampling the wine at Boschendal

A corner of the vineyard.

Cheers to a happy day out.


Two of our colleagues visited this vineyard in late August this year a few days before the vendange  (grape harvest) was due to start. Normally white grapes are picked first and red picked later as they need a little longer to reach maturation. All the staff were busy cleaning and preparing all the equipment necessary for picking and pressing the grapes quickly so that the juice could be processed through primary fermentation prior to going into the main secondary fermentation tanks.  

Their guide was the hospitable manager Francoise Hivert who took them around the Chateau first, followed by a viewing in the cellars of the chateau to see the processes required to make their wines. It was a very pleasant summer day typical of the Languedoc and perfect for the grapes.

The Chateau dates from the 15th century and was successively owned by the Jean Provenquiere passing to the Marquis of Puisserguier in the 18th century. In 1860 Paul Teissonière,  Napoleon III’s Counsellor bought it. The Robert family became the owners in 1954 at which time much of the terroir now used for vines were apple orchards. The family decided that apples grew better in the cooler wetter climate of Normandy and replanted the area with vines.

You can view and buy their wines by clicking here.


An aerial view of the chateau showing the proximity of the vineyards. The vines are located on the most convenient soil according to each different grape-variety.This allows each variety to come to its full potential on the 150 hectares wide vineyard spread over 4 different villages.

An oil painting in the main reception room of the chateau of children who once lived here

The Proprietor Claude Robert at the business end in the Chateau cellars

Brigitte Robert and Francoise in the Chateau's sales end the shop.

The head winemaker getting ready for the hard work to come.

Our visitors Keith and Dennis in the packing department.

Fermentation tanks ready for use.


Customers who have visited us will be aware that our shop lies within a re-developed railway arch situated in the middle of Bexley High Street. Network Rail needed to carry out a safety inspection of the premises. We are glad to report that we passed with flying colours.

During the inspection we had to move out to a neighbouring property. With our shop empty it gave us a great opportunity to carry out a long overdue refurbishment of our own. After a period of two months with the works completed we are pleased to announce that we have now returned back home. Why not pop in and let us know what you think of our efforts.

Moving out. Ron with his favourite tool.

Organised chaos- the move continues.

The dream team

The refurbishment begins.Don the tiler/ painter/ chippie/ cleaner/ telephone engineer allegedly working hard.

Two weeks later and Don has laid the third tile.

The work continues.

And continues

Settling in the work almost finished

The wines are back on the shelves ready for business.

Looks like a busy wine shop once again.


As part of his UK trip to the Australian Wine Fair in London, Grant Bellvé, the International Manager of Tyrrell's Wines paid us a visit. We at Village Wines have always been great enthusiasts of Tyrrell's Wines and Grant was keen to show how much they value the support they have from the independent wine trade. We thought it would be rude not to sample some of their recent vintages which Grant had brought along. This re-enforced our view of Tyrrell's as a producer of the highest quality which has lasted for five generations of the Tyrrell family. The range of Tyrrell's wines offered by Village Wines can be found by clicking here.

Russ with Grant Bellvé on his visit to the shop.Grant is the good-looking one on the left.


We thought 25 years as an independant wine merchant was something worth celebrating so our annual pre-Christmas wine tasting seemed as good a time as any to lay on a "bit of a do", complete with a large cake and some special wines. As you can see below a good time was had by all.

Believe it or not we still retain our enthusiasm for bringing wines which have the stamp of originality and individuality to like minded wine-lovers. Of course much has changed in theworld of wine in those 25 years, perhaps the most striking being how much the overall quality of wine has improved. Deciding which wines to list has become much more difficult and sadly involves us in much more tasting! However, our dedication to continuously seeking out wines (and winemakers) that continuously provide quality and value for money, despite the many upward pressures on wine prices, has ensured we have a wine list of which we are justifiably proud

The Cake

Marcelle and Andrew

Mr Evans and

Dr. Sutton deciding which medicine to purchase.

Les from Village Wines says a few words

And some more.

Les cuts the cake.

Les listens to comments about a wine being sampled.

Kay and Lou


We have teamed up with our good friend Giuseppe Tomaselli, who has extensive knowledge of wine and food, to run evening wine courses in the comfort of your home. Each lesson will include how to taste wine, with six wines from Village Wines; how to recognise quality in wines, matching food and wine and much more, all for £15 per person. As a bonus all participants will get 5% off any wines ordered. More details are available on request and Giuseppe will be also at our own tasting to promote this new collaboration.


We at Village Wines have always prided ourselves on offering quality and value at all price points. Whilst we acknowledge that in wine the concept of “you only get what you pay for” is broadly accurate, occasionally we find wines that are definitely punching above their weight in terms of quality and price. We like to think that this is particularly evident in our current crop of new wines. Sicilian Fiano, South African Chenin Blanc From Franschoek and Portuguese Touriga Nacional are superb grapes in the right winemakers hands and allied to some fine examples of modern French and Italian wines all feature in our Newcomers “Six of the Best” mixed case which exemplifies the concept of quality and value.


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