Thank you to Bites wine writer Bryn Stephens – to read more from Bryn, click here…
One of the things I hear muttered often at parties and in restaurants is ‘Damn I wish I knew more about wine’. Majestic Wine, despite their relentless pursuit of selling Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, have got a lot of things right, and their offer of the short ‘Introduction to Wine Tasting’ evenings was a revelation on the country’s wine scene. But asking around my friends who have shown an interest in taking their wine education further, they have not had the faintest idea of where to go and who to speak to! Well opening in Clifton Village, Bristol shortly is a one stop local shop for all your wine education needs.
Red & White (RAW) is formerly a Devon, now Bristol based independent wine merchant, run by Master of Wine and trans-Atlantic rower Liam Steevenson. His recent move up to Bristol has brought with it an energy and approach that is truly unique within the world of wine. A tasting I attended at the Red Lion Wine House (itself having a truly awesome wine list, go and try it!) hosted by RAW was a huge success. ‘Pinot, Priorat, pie and raucous sea shanties @redwhitewines inaugural tasting in Bristol tonight. That’s the way to run a wine event!’ to quote Fiona Beckett, the Guardian’s food and wine matcher.
Liam has achieved a lot in his relatively short career. He was the youngest person, at the time, to have ever received the Master of Wine qualification, getting it when he was just 28 years old. He started RAW in 2005 and started supplying many hotels, pubs and restaurants in the South West, before opening a flourishing shop in Kingsbridge, Devon in 2010.
Ben Austin joined the company just a few months ago, but may be familiar to some of the readers as a wine blogger. He started his career in Australia, before coming home and spending 4 years at Majestic Wine. It was then he decided to go down the restaurant route, becoming Sommelier at Bell’s Diner in Montpelier, and finally Head Sommelier at Bristol Hotel Du Vin, all the while gaining his diploma from the WSET.
The first thing you notice about them is that they obviously take real pleasure in what they do and educating others in the world of wine. Both being so young, the approach is fresh and informal, but their knowledge is extremely wide and deep. ‘The focus for RAW is to help people get more out of their wine experience’ says Liam. ‘Just a little knowledge and understanding can make a huge difference to the appreciation of what you are drinking, no matter where you are drinking it! ‘
RAW will be opening a shop (run by Liam and Ben themselves) and a dedicated wine school in the Clifton Arcade very shortly and will be offering courses up to the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 to start with and at some point in the future, the WSET Diploma and Master of Wine tasting tutorials. On top of this they will be looking to do regular appreciation courses, masterclasses with noted industry professionals, cocktail mixing classes, and even offering nights for hen and stag do’s! All in all a packed event calendar. One thing is for certain, the energetic, unstuffy approach will be most welcome on the Bristol wine list!
Full details of the courses and their wine list are available through their website – www.red-white.co.uk, through which you can also order wines and get them delivered. You can follow them on twitter @rawwineschool and @redwhitewines.
A couple of wines to try from Red & White – One red and one white!
Cal Pla Tinto 2006, Joan Sangenis, Porrera, Priorat, Spain – £12.95 – Priorat is one of the most stunning regions in North Eastern Spain with its black volcanic soils. This wine is a blend of Garnacha, Carinena and just a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose full of Christmas spice, cinnamon and pepper. Palate absolutely bursts with blackcurrant fruits and a body that hugs the tongue and caresses the throat. I would pay £20 for this and be happy… wow!
Basa Blanco, Telmo Rodriguez, Rueda, Spain – £9.95 – Rueda is the source of some of Spain’s best white wines and this zippy little number is no different. Gloriously innovative winemaker Telmo Rodriguez blends Viura and Verdejo for this lip smacking white, showing aromas of peach, green guage and a grassiness that is very similar to a Sauvignon Blanc in character. Great summer white!