Even as his old employer the Threshers group crumbled, Andrew Lundy remained convinced that a sharply focused wine operation built around customer choice, local knowledge, good quality and gentle guidance could work well in Edinburgh.
So, after recruiting a few former colleagues, Vino Wines was born in 2010.
Nowadays, it has four Edinburgh shops Broughton Street, Stockbridge, Grange Loan and Morningside – and 24 staff in total.
Expansion brought slicker organisation and direct imports, along with the adroit application of social media and of technology. Vino, for example, was Scotland’s first retailer to acquire a Enomatic wine preservation system.
But what will that system be dispensing as we move further forward? Well, Lundy senses that Scots are getting increasingly excited by quality Italian reds and by good shiraz. Later still, he anticipates revivals in quality cava and well-made chardonnay.
Part of the shop’s current fun though is the “Trust Vino Loves You” feature, offering “blind” bottles you would not ordinarily select. One I tried turned out to be a structured cinnamon and vanilla influenced red from Victoria – 2014 Sixty Clicks Shiraz Mataro (£9.50). Using the traditional name “mataro” (rather than “mourvedre”) gives a nod towards the Spanish influences that I discern behind the wine’s red cherry fruit, stimulating acidity and modern-style soft tannin.
Among the whites, I was impressed by the characteristic butter and vanilla base to the barrel fermented 2014 Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc (£13.75). Enjoy here the smooth but subtle orange fruit with its zingy tangerine acidity and the sweeter spices that give the whole thing sophistication and complexity.
Moving north, look out for the delicate but savoury 2014 Colombo & Fille Cotes du Rhone Blanc (£10.75) from a top producer thereabouts. Given an hour to open up, it reveals smooth quince and orange texture, apple and lemon acidity and suggestions of orange blossom to contrast with its gentle underlying spiciness.
2014 Codici Negroamaro
Puglia, Italy, 13 per cent
Traditionally the rugged, slightly bitter negroamaro grape works best when blended with something mellower. Here, however, it is soft enough to stand alone putting concentrated black cherry fruit and graphite depth centre stage. While the tannin is predictably chewy and herbal, chocolate and tobacco undercurrents still show through well.
£5.99 – instead of £7.99 until 12 April – at Waitrose
2015 Zalze Reserve Chenin Blanc
Coastal Region, South Africa, 13.5 per cent
About a third of the grapes used here are from the Helderberg vineyards which helps to make this wine crisp, and smooth with an acidic lime prickle beneath its apple and banana fruit. A creamy honeysuckle edge with textured savoury components completes the picture.
£7.50 – instead of £10 until Tuesday – at Sainsbury’s
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