Changes in the Budget!

You may be forgiven for thinking that yesterdays (9th March 2017) Budget had no change to alcohol duty. Well sorry to disillusion you but the duty will go up by the usual formula, the rate of inflation (3.9% this Budget). The announcement was actually that there will be ‘no additional increase’ in Excise Duty. Even worse, and a particular pet hate of mine is that Excise Duty attracts VAT. So that is a tax on a tax!

The increases for the popular lines are as follows:

Wine – 75cl standard bottle (8.5% to 15% ABV) – A rise of 8p per bottle. This means for a £10.00 bottle of wine you will pay £2.16 in Excise Duty, £1.67 in VAT and £6.17 for the wine, bottle, label, transportation etc.

Sparkling Wine (Champagne, Prosecco etc) – 75cl standard bottle – A rise of 10p per bottle. This means for a £15.00 bottle of fizz you will pay £2.77 in Excise Duty, £2.50 in VAT and £9.73 for the wine, bottle, label, transportation etc.

Fortified Wine (Port and Sherry) – 75cl standard bottle – A rise of 11p per bottle. This means for a £20.00 bottle of Port you will pay £2.89 in Excise Duty, £3.24 in VAT and £13.87 for the wine, bottle, label, transportation etc.

Spirits – The duty rate for spirits is complicated as is set by the ABV of the product, for a standard 70cl bottle the new rate is just over 20p per 1% ABV. To put some costs on these, an entry level Vodka with a ABV of 37.5% then expect to see an extra 28p in Excise Duty taking this to £7.54. For a bottle of Whisky with an ABV of 40% the rise in 30p to £8.05. However the quality spirits sold by Warlingham Wines will see Excise Duty rises of around 33p to £8.65.

With these increases and the competitiveness in some areas the Scottish Whisky Association now calculate that on the average priced bottle of whisky the tax now accounts for 79% of the price, up 21% since 2010

So yet again alcohol drinkers and the alcohol industry are being hit really hard by the Chancellor, thanks goodness he decided not to add those additional increases!


English Whisky Shows its Style!

English Whisky Company Chapter 14The English Whisky Company at the St. Georges Distillery continues to show the quality of their product by being awarded medals yet again this year. The Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible have awarded the Chapter 14 the award of being the ‘European Whisky of the Year’

Managing Director of The English Whisky Company, Andrew Nelstrop says, “We are honoured to have received this accolade yet again. It is a true tribute to the team at St Georges Distillery”

Chapter 14 is a classic single malt whisky, aged in bourbon casks for a minimum of 5 years. English Whisky do not use colourings or chill filtering in their whisky. This is to enable maximum enjoyment of the whisky.

When enjoying the Chapter 14 you will find that on the nose it is of warm vanilla Danish pastry. Fruity with lychees and rum soaked raisins. Demerara sugar and mandarin oranges. On the palate it is very fruity, bananas and light fruits. Hints of crème brulee. Almost like a light brandy. Warm alcohols and a long dry finish. It is also very smooth and silky.

Warlingham Wines can provide the Chapter 14 in several formats. On  the web site we have the standard Chapter 14 70cl or the smaller Chapter 14 20cl

We can also obtain the cask strength version in a 70cl decanter as a special order at present so if you wish a bottle please e-mail me at john@warlinghamwines,com.

If you prefer something peaty then have a look at the Chapter 15, available in 70cl size or 20cl size or again cask strength as the Chapter 14.

The English Whisky Company are also making some changes to their range. The Chapter 6 and Chapter 11 are being phased out. The chapter 9 (Lightly Peated) is now going to be an annual bottling only and the Chapters 10 (Olorosso cask), 12 (Pedro Ximenez casks), 16 (Peated Sherry Cask) and 17 (Triple Distilled) are now considered as rare so it is expected that only one of these will be available at any one time.

Warlingham Wines will have a selection of these whisky’s available, obviously subject to availability. Please let me know if there is anything you would like but not listed, we do have access to the entire range of English Whisky products.

New at Winbirri Wines

Winbirri CaseIt has been a fantastic year at the Winbirri Vineyards in Surlingham, Norwich. We get quite used to receiving the notifications of how well they have done at the annual wine awards. This year is a special year as the Bacchus won the Wine of the Year Award with another Gold Medal, the third in 3 years. Also Lee Dyer, the wine maker was disappointed as he did not quite make the the top 3 wine makers in the country but that surely is only a matter of time!

The award winning Bacchus is now available through the Warlingham Wines web site and all this success has caused a few changes at the vineyard, especially with labelling to make sure people get the right wine.

Warlingham Wines will be offering the introductory case throughout October but only on the web site, This comes with a discount and free delivery and can be found at

Winbirri Award Winning English Wine – Case

The main change is to the labelling of the Bacchus wines, these are now listed as two wines, the Award wining Wine of the Year is now simply the Winbirri Bacchus and can be found at: Winbirri Bacchus The other Bacchus is now the Bacchus Reserve and it has been aged an additional year to give this wine fantastic depth and character. This can be found at Winbirri Bacchus Reserve

There have been some other important changes to the wines, mainly due to it being a very good year in Norfolk for growing grapes, The Pinot Noir continues to be a great wine, a bit heavier than the Burgundy version. The Insignia (Red Blend) is a bigger wine this year, last years offering had great flavour but was quite light.

Lee is working hard to introduce new and exciting wines and I had a taste of the new Winbirri ‘Signature’ and what a great wine. Still under wraps but I can report a great fruity nose which follows onto the palate, still not ready for bottling but this will be fantastic when it is released so what this space.

Finally we are into the picking season so if you would  be interested in spending a day in the vines picking grapes please let me  e-mail me for details at, its a great day and you are rewarded with free food, wine and meeting the most amazing people who love their wine.


have a great week and we shall see what we have for next week, is it too early to mention the C word!

Our visit to Salcheto or Italy Part 2!

SalchetoThis is just an excuse to remember the summer and our trip to Tuscany before the autumn finally arrives. One of the highlights was our visit to the Salcheto Vineyards, near Montepulciano. This vineyard has completely reinvented itself in the last 5 years and this has had an amazing effect on the wines that they make.

Salcheto devotes itself to organic and sustainable methods of making wine. General Manager, Mario Turrini came to the vineyard with a mission to adopt sustainable practices and it has taken 5 years to do so, not to mention considerable investment and a bit of ingenuity. Many of the methods now employed at Salcheto are new and revolutionary. A great deal of thought was employed to maximise sustainability. The three storey winery is sympathetically built into the hillside and all of the lighting is provided through light tubes, no additional lighting is provided in the lower areas. Incidentally at harvest time the patio area is used to sort the grapes and start the pressing process. The grape juice is then passed down pipes that are fed through the light tubes. The pipes then fill the vats below. The vines are grown under bio-diverse conditions and they even have their own bees to help pollination and to make honey of course. Heating is provided sustainably by using the cuttings from the vines. Mario Turrini is also very realistic and states ‘Sustainability starts with a quality product that is sold at the right price. If the vineyard is not profitable it is not sustainable’. Salcheto wines offer great quality and great value.Salcheto

Salco means the willow tree in the ancient Tuscan language. An important plant for wine territories as throughout history its branches were used to bind the vines. Salcheto (Sal-k-et-o) is the name of the stream that winds through a valley and is the boundary of the estate. The vineyard is rooted in the historic district of Vino Nobile, in the southeast of the Siena province of Tuscany. The willow tree also contributes to the winery’s energy independence and is today prominently represented in their logo as part of the commitment to environmental sustainability.

That now leaves us to look at the wines. Three of the Salcheto wines are currently imported into the UK. A Chianti, a Vino Noble di Montepulciano and a very special version of the Vino Noble which they affectionately refer to as the ‘Salco’ and comes from a specific area of the vineyard. The vineyard and wines enjoy the DOCG classification.

The Salcheto Chianti Colli Senesi is a fantastic wine and priced at under a tenner this is stunning value. Chianti is currently unfashionable and therefore the makers need to work much harder to get a following, it is for this reason that I love unfashionable wines! The Chianti is a dark ruby in colour. On the nose cherries, red berry and spicy notes. These flavours blossom on the palate along with notes of liquorice, and it is very smooth. A long elegant finish. This is a very easy drinking wine. It is to be drunk young, drinking well now or over the next  2-3 years. Predominantly the Sangiovese Grape it goes very well with lamb or beef, also great with pasta and tomato bases sauces.

Salcheto also produce a range of phosphate free wines, if this is something you would be interested in please let us know.


Whats Happening in the Wine World

As I sat down to write this weeks blog it occurred to me that over the last few weeks I have been bombarded with all sorts of changes about the wine business, some of these are good and some are not so good for those involved. Nevertheless this could be really good for the consumer and provide some great variety.

Wine World
Wine in Oak Barrels

The worst news is for the poor old French and the weather, worse than ours! The French Ministry of Agriculture have announced a loss of crops due to the weather conditions. This is at a time when French wine production was due to hit a record 44.1 million hectolitres (around 60 million bottles) per annum. Despite this some regions have been severely affected. This has been caused by frost in Champagne which has been followed by mildew (down 32%). The same for the Loire Valley with a further 32% loss. This has affected our Pouilly Fume and Coteaux du Giennois. Burgundy and Beaujolais have been hit by frost but avoided the mildew, down 23%. Bordeaux and the Languadoc-Roussillion fared much better with a 1% reduction in their crops. A bad year for the French, I feel that this may see a price hike for specific wines but I think there will be enough in the rest of the world!

Great news for English Sparkling Wine as it hits £1 billion in sales and is due to overtake Champagne in volume and with the quality right up there this is great news for the English and more bad news for the French. There are also around 5,000 hectares available for planting more vines, which bodes well for the future. We know from our own sales that the Winbirri Vintage Reserve Brut far outsells the Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne, both are really excellent and Gosset has a really good following in France but of course is much more expensive.

Some good news for the Austrians as the spotlight is on these vineyards as judging for the European awards in underway. The first issue for the consumer, is getting our tongues around new grape varieties like Zweigelt, Rotgifler and Gumpoldskirchner. The335951337 second is that the new Austrian Winemakers have some great new ideas. We have a stunning Merlot Eiswein and other wines coming to our website soon from Johanneshof Reinisch Vineyard in the Thermenregion of Austria so keep an eye on the web site!

The elephant in the room in any wine company or at any event is Brexit.  It is just a big unknown at the moment and is likely to have a major impact on the cost. The pound is down against most currencies by around 10%, and whilst some suppliers have passed the additional costs onto the consumer most have not done so yet and are hoping to keep prices at their current level until after Christmas. It is far to early to speculate on what trading will look like in the future but one thing is certain, there are so many great wine producers in the world that Warlingham Wines will be featuring great wines in the future and at great prices, remember ‘We do not sell cheap wine, we sell great wine cheaply”.

Norfolk, the very best of wines!


NorfolkWe spend loads of time talking about great wine from around the World, Australian Chardonnay, Italian Pinot Grigio, English Bacchus from Norfolk etc…. Sorry did someone mention English wine from Norfolk in the same sentence as great wine? Well yes I did. English Wine has been making a great reputation for itself over the last few years and every year it seems to get better.

Winbirri Vineyards in Surlingham, Norfolk are at the forefront of this revolution. About 5 miles from Norwich Winbirri is a lot further North than the more famous Kentish and Sussex producers but Lee Dyer has been producing some fantastic wines and picking up loads of awards for the last few years.

Over the last couple of months the Winbirri Bacchus was awarded the ‘wine of the year’ award at the 2016 English and Welsh Wine Awards.  This is a very keenly contested Awards ceremony. This was then followed up with the ‘Best Norfolk Producer’ at the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards, despite being more regional it is a very hotly contested award in a very rural community!

Winbirri is a truly family business. Lee’s father, Steve planted a few vines just to ‘see what they would do’. This became an established  vineyard in 2007 and is now covering 25 acres, producing around 80,000 bottles per year.

The wines that are produced by Winbirri are:

Winbirri Bacchus, clearly the star of the show having won gold medals for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages. It has also been voted in the top 20 Bacchus in this time, bearing in mind that almost every vineyard in England grows the Bacchus Grape but its shining glory is as ‘Wine of the Year’ at the English and Welsh Wine Awards in 2016.

Winbirri Vintage Reserve, What a great Sparkling wine this is, made from the traditional Champagne blend and using the same methods, this produces a great sparkling wine. Full of flavour and loads of little bubbles streaming up the glass, a sure sign of quality.

Winbirri Pinot Noir is by far and away the most popular red wine made by Winbirri. Maybe as it is a known grape but do not be lulled into a false sense of security. This is a much more robust wine in weight and character than you may be expecting.

A fantastic offer, to introduce you to these wonderful wines we have put a case together for you to enjoy, and to make it sweeter we will deliver it free!


Our Italian Sojourn To Caparzo


CaparzoSet in the heart of Tuscany the approach to the vineyard is just stunningly beautiful. The drive up the 3 mile dirt track lined with tall slim pine trees is exactly what you would image. Established in 1970, Caparzo is one of Montalcino’s 30 historic wineries, and is amongst those that contributed to the fame of Brunello di Montalcino. The vineyard was bought in a dilapidated condition in 1998. There has been much investment in the vineyard, modernisation in the winery and the help of winemaker Massimo Bracalente have all ensured that Caparzo is now a top Brunello producer.

The Caparzo estate covers 200 hectares. 90 hectares are vineyards and 9 of these are designated for Brunello, distributed throughout different hillsides in the DOCG, ranging from 220 to 300 metres above sea level.

So on to the wonderful wines we looked at, there were 7 red wines in total available in 3 sizes. All are available at but we shall feature 2 wines.

The classic Brunelli di Montalcino 2011. This is the wine for which the area is most famous and this is an excellent example of this wine. It is a Sangiovese grape that has been aged in french oak for 3 years and then a further year of bottle ageing. A ruby colour, tending towards garnet as it ages. A complex and ample bouquet, wild berry fruit, tea leaf and orange peel. Palate is dry, firm, both delicate and austere but smooth and warming, like a cuddle in a glass! Very long length and persistent tannins on the finish.

Sangiovese di Toscana is a bright ruby colour with hints of violet. An intense fruity bouquet, with ripe blackberries, wild strawberries and spice. The palate has a warm brambly feel, full of soft ripe fruit and a persistent spice to the finish. Very easy drinking and something to impress your friends. Stunning value at under a tenner!

Coteaux du Giennois Little Known Wines Great Value

Coteaux du giennois

CDGSo dry January is over and its time to restock the cellar. We thought that we would look at a great little vineyard with a fantastic provenance, what does this mean? Coteaux du Giennois (pro: co-d-jenwar). This is a little known appellation North-east of Sancerre and around the town of Gien, with the proximity to Sancerre there is no surprise that the wines are similar in style but at around two thirds of the cost. This offers some great wines at fantastic prices.

The Wines of the appellation are a crisp white, a dry rose and a fruity red.

White wine – 100% Sauvignon Blanc and offers a fruity dry white wine, a pale straw yellow in appearance. The nose has some minerality with floral and quince notes. this leads to bright citrus flavours with a crisp finish, great with goats cheese or chicken in a lemon sauce or just on its own! more info – 

Rose Wine – A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, a dry rose with plenty of fruit flavours, pale salmon in appearance. Fresh notes of peach and nectarine on the nose leading onto tart fruity flavours. A very refreshing wine. Great with seafood and shellfish with creamy sauces, perfect on a balmy summer evening on its own with good friends. More info –

Red Wine – A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. A medium bodied wine with a fantastic ruby red appearance. On the nose there are red and black berries and a gentle pepperiness. This leads onto subtle  flavours of black fruits and a generous finish. We like this wine a lot. Great with roast pork, barbecued duck, try it a little chilled in the summer! More info – 

A bit more information

The wine maker – Domaine Philippe Raimbault

Philippe Raimbault is a 9th generation winemaker. His family have been making outstanding wines since 1701.  He has been learning his craft since the age of 10, working closely with his grandfather and father for many years until he decided he wanted to make wines completely by himself after his father retired.  They produce wines in three appellation only from their own grapes. The càve and Sancerre vines are in our village of Sury en Vaux, about 6km from Sancerre. Pouilly Fumé vines are just the other side of the Loire River. The third appelation is Coteaux du Giennois, which is about 15km from the Pouilly Fumé vines. He has 16 hectares in total. Philippe is an award winning, hands-on, driven and passionate winegrower, striving to make the best wines possible.

Coteaux du Giennois has a total vine area of around 475 acres, about half of this is planted for white wine, 40% for red wine and the remaining 10% for Rose wine. This gives a total of around 450,000 of wine or 335,000 bottles if you prefer!


Soil: The vines are planted on silica or limestone soil There are also old Loire terraces at Gien and extensions of mainly Sancerre limestone geological formations to the east of the Cosne fault, and silica to the west, with tertiary flint deposits.

Climate: A temperate climate with a continental influence, this appellation is often at risk for spring frosts. The average yearly temperature is comparable to that of Sancerre. Average annual rainfall is 850 mm (33.5 inches), the highest in the Centre-Loire.


New Alcohol limits, are they fair or right?


Size matters!The Government have changed the limits with out any consultation to the drinks industry. Is this fair?

The new recommendations are amongst the lowest in Europe, is this now ‘Nanny State’ mentality or realistic advice?

The New Rules focuses on the limit for men down to that of women i.e. 2-3 units per day and a maximum of 14 units per week but now including not drinking on consecutive days and a total abstinence for pregnant women. Full guidance is at This also includes ‘In particular, stronger evidence is available that the risk of cancers, especially breast cancer, increases directly in-line with consumption of alcohol.’ But the limits for women not been changed?

Industry thoughts on the change are focused on the lack of consultation with the industry, the industry has worked with the government over the last 19 years to educate us on safe limits. The Wine and Spirit Association has shown that this education has helped reduce alcohol consumption by 19% over the last 10 years, that is contrary to the picture that the press paint! As to the health benefits, it is suggested that following these recommendations make your  chance of dying from an alcohol related disease less than 1% or about as dangerous as watching 1 hour of television a day or a couple of bacon sannies a week! A great article was published by Harpers through the following link –

So what are our thoughts? Well we are not experts or doctors but we have seen a bit of life! We also promote responsible drinking. As a career Policeman I have seen the effects of irresponsible drinking and in the same way that any addiction can destroy lives. YES, I do get fed up with being demonised because we sell and drink alcohol, good quality alcohol in our case. People baulk at buying a case of 12 bottles of wine for a month but that is just 3 bottles per week and usually shared between two, is that excessive if taken between Friday and Sunday with dinner, the government says yes! Yes whenever this is portrayed on the news they show some town centre on a Saturday night where people have been illegally served drink whilst already drunk, no action is taken against the night cubs or bartender, isn’t this where the problem lies? What are your thoughts?

John Tisshaw, Owner of Warlingham Wines