As a long-time wine professional and complete wine nut, I am delighted that a notable independent wine merchant has opened a short stroll from my home. Not only has a decent new shop opened in our neck of the woods, but it sells wine!
This rather glamorous, thoughtfully run shop sells a broad range of interesting wines, spirits and beers, often too off-beat to be found on supermarket shelves. What's more, they showcase their range with regular evening wine tastings. As the name suggests, it is run with theatrical flair and exuberance.
Owner, Daniel Illsley used to be an actor but became disenchanted and in the late 1990s gravitated to Oddbins (where I started my wine career a few years earlier). Soon he was managing the Greenwich branch before launching Theatre of Wine nearby in 2001. A decade on, he decided to expand north of the river and, last December, opened a branch in Junction Road, having realised that Tufnell Park, Archway and Dartmouth Park form somewhat of a black hole as far as decent drinks shops are concerned.
The eclectic range offers a good potted selection of European classics and a discerning en primeur offering, but Theatre of Wine comes into its own with lesser-known, quirky wines. As I write this I am sipping a glass of Casa Lapostolle Semillon 2007 from Rapel Valley in Chile, from low-yielding old vines – rich and concentrated, with an almost waxy texture, stony and sweetly spicy. It's a big, satisfying mouthful of wine and, at £9, a distinctive bottle to serve at or take along to a dinner party. I'm looking forward to tasting some of their wines from Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy, let alone an apparently Chablis-like Georgian wine (Tbilvino Tsinandali £10.90). Often overlooked wines from provincial France also appear to be well represented.
If your new year's resolution has been to reduce your alcohol consumption, decent local independent merchants like Theatre of Wine give you the chance to trade up a bit and focus more on quality, rather than quantity. Your palate and your liver will thank you.
124 Junction Road
Tel 020 3490 2147