There’s a new kid in town. Well, to be precise, in Bath, a few miles down the road. And that’s where I went recently for the launch party of Novel Wines, a new independent wine merchant specialising, as their publicity suggests, in undiscovered wine. Or, to put it another way, in countries that might not be top of everyone’s list.
This, to me, should be the role of merchants such as Novel Wines: to source interesting bottles from passionate, artisan winemakers whose output often is too small for the high street chains or supermarkets. And, because these independents can take time to get to know their customers and their preferences, they can hand-sell wines outside the mainstream that would otherwise be passed by. As you might guess, I’m a big fan of these small-scale businesses. We’re lucky in Bristol with Corks, Grape and Grind, Clifton Cellars and DBM Wines (and a few others) already well established – and, from first experience, Novel Wines look to be a worthy addition.
Their main focus is on Central and South-Eastern Europe with interesting selections from Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, but they’ve also found a few real exotics: wines from Thailand, Japan and India, for example. And, they’ve got one of the best ranges of English and Welsh wines I’ve seen anywhere.
With over 100 wines open for tasting at their launch party, it was impossible to try everything (although, no doubt, some tried!), but, of those I tasted, my top 3 were Tibor Gal’s lovely red-fruited Titi Bikaver (£12.90) from Hungary, the black fruits and spice of Vina Koslovic’s Teran from Croatia (£11.90) and the soft, harmonious Tower of Dracula Feteasca Neagra – nice wine, shame about the name! – from Romania (£12.50).
If you’d like to give these, or any of their others a try, you can contact them on www.novelwines.co.uk or on Facebook or Twitter.