Please see below for all the latest news from the shop, including adding a Master of Wine to our team, our new stores in Oxted and Wadhurst, the various awards that we've been very honoured to win, our forthcoming promotions, the new simple rating system we've devised, our buying trips, and any other news and ideas we think are worth committing to the site (however surreal).
Bordeaux 2012 En Primeur Offer - April 2012
Mike has completed his tasting notes on the 2012 vintage and prices are already being released. Despite a difficult vintage, there are some very good to excellent wines available and it's a real drinkers vintage. Initial pricing suggests that some Chateaux have actually listened to the market and reduced their prices accordingly - if you select carefully, there's some great value around.
As usual, we'll be offering our Mix Your Own Case service when we've secured the right wines, a good vintage to do this. We'll also be running a regular en primeur offer (i.e. in full and half cases) with offers sent via text message. Email your mobile number to email@example.com to sign up. Click on the link below for the full notes.
Bordeaux 2012 En Primeur Tasting Notes (with estimated prices)
A new venture - The White Hart, Buxted - January 2013
We're always doing something new - and the latest venture is being a partner in what will be a very nice country dining pub in the East Sussex village of Buxted. We've purchased the freehold of the pub and are currently extending and refurbishing before we open our doors later this summer. Expect a seasonal, locally sourced, incredibly delicious menu along with an extensive range of local beers, spirits and soft drinks. And the wines? A fantastic list (lots by the glass), all priced at just £6 more than our retail prices. Yes, that's right, just a £6 corkage added to each bottle, from the house wine to Chateau Lafite, meaning you can drink better wines without paying through the nose. Which is the way it should be. We'll confirm the opening date as soon as we can.
Mike & Adam's Argentine Adventure - September 2012
Invited to their country as guests of Wines of Argentina, read all about Mike and Adam's brilliant trip to Buenos Aires, Patagonia and Mendoza. Truly stunning landscapes, sublime wines, top food and warm, welcoming people. Some excellent new finds to add to our list, read Mike's notes here and Adam's version here.
Mike also heads to Tuscany - June 2012
Hot on the heels of Mark's trip, Mike also visited Tuscany for four days at the end of June, seeing a different group of producers. Some really stunning wines and less meat than Mark's trip - read the full notes here.
Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur - Mix Your Own Case Offer
Please click the link below to download the order form for the Mix Your Own Case offer. A short list this time around as value was difficult to find.
Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur Mix Your Own Case Order Form
Email the form back to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01892 537981 if you have any questions.
Mark's trip to Tuscany - April 2012
Read about Mark's tasting trip to Tuscany here, a tale of red wine, meat, a bit more red wine, some more meat, and a bit more red wine & meat. Oh, and some Vin Santo. And some more meat.....
Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur Offer - April 2012
Mike has now completed his tasting notes for the 2011 vintage. And, despite challenging growing conditions, there's some lovely wines available that should be well priced - especially compared to the previous two vintages. Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux and St Emilion all showed well with classic wines that compare to such vintages as 2001, 2004 and 2008.
As usual, we'll be offering our Mix Your Own Case service when we've secured the right wines. We'll also be running a regular en primeur offer (i.e. in full and half cases) with offers sent via text message. Email your mobile number to email@example.com to sign up. Click on the link below for the full notes.
Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur Tasting Notes (with estimated prices)
Local Corkage Scheme - January 2012
We're asking local restaurants to offer a corkage scheme during their less hectic services (generally earlier in the week). If you buy the wine from us and present your receipt in the restaurant, then they will charge you an agreed corkage - meaning you can drink the wines you love, have a great meal and support local businesses.
The list below are those that have signed up. If you'd like your favourite place to offer the service, ask them to contact us and we'll spread the word.
The Black Pig, Tunbridge Wells - 01892 523030 - £10 corkage deal available Mon-Wed
The George & Dragon, Speldhurst - 01892 863125 - £10 corkage deal available Mon-Wed
Kitsu Sushi & Noodle Bar, Tunbridge Wells - 01892 515510 - BYO (no corkage), every day
Cigar Range Now Available Online - August 2011
Given that our range of Cuban cigars has been selling well through the shops for a few months now, we thought we'd make them available to our online customers as well. Click here to take you to the range we offer.
The Secret Cellar shortlisted for Decanter's Best Regional Merchant Award - August 2011
We're delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award - one of only 8 merchants across the UK, and the only one based in the South East. Thanks to those customers that recommended us, always nice
Bordeaux 2010 En Primeur Offer - July 2011
After a long campaign, we're pleased to put out our Mix Your Own Case en primeur offer, where you can mix and match claret - just so long as you have multiples of 12 bottles. A top vintage, some ridiculous prices, but we've managed to secure the good stuff for our customers. Click on the link below and email back your order to us.
Bordeaux 2010 Price List & Order Form
Bordeaux 2010 En Primeur - April 2011
Further to his trip to Bordeaux at the start of April, Mike has now completed his tasting notes for the 2010 vintage. Unquestionably there are some great wines, but there are also some over extracted alcoholic monsters that lack freshness and balance. Pauillac and St Julien were the most impressive communes with good wines also made in Margaux and St Estephe. St Emilion and Pomerol were a mixed bag - some lush offerings alongside some big clunky wines. Additionally, there are a handful of good everyday clarets and some scrumptuous Sauternes.
As usual, we'll be offering our Mix Your Own Case service when all the prices are released. We'll also be running a regular en primeur offer (i.e. in full cases) with offers sent via text message. Email us your mobile number to sign up.
Bordeaux 2010 Tasting Notes
Bordeaux En Primeur Explained
New store open - Wadhurst - September 2010
Our new store opened officially on Saturday 25th September. Sited in a great little unit in the grounds of Wadhurst Castle, we've got a shop as well as warehousing for the business as we expand. We'll have a big tasting event there soon, but for starters we want to make sure everything works as intended. We'll keep you posted via the newsletters and Twitter.
The Vindependents Launch Gets Nearer - September 2010
As mentioned earlier this year, we've set up a group with 10 other quality independent wine merchants from across the UK and we're working together to source cracking small parcels of wine exclusive to us, as well as sharing ideas which will ultimately benefit you, the consumer. We'll keep you updated of the launch date, the wines (Italy and Burgundy being shipped now), as well as special offers and events (Vindependents' Day is not to be missed).
Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur Pick & Mix Your Own Case - July 2010
Now that the 2009 en primeur campaign has seen all the Chateaux release their prices, we're glad to put forward our 2009 Pick and Mix offer, where you can mix your own case of 12 clarets from a brilliant vintage, all at very competitive prices. See the tasting notes and order form below.
Bordeaux 2009 Price List & Order Form
Bordeaux 2009 Tasting Notes
Adam's Chablis Trip - Laroche Wines
Finally my first trip, a chance to see the world.. well Chablis, a chance to taste some of the world's best Chablis, a chance to get away from Mike & David! So I packed an overnight bag, hopped on a ridiculously early flight and headed down to see what Chablis had to offer. All the wines were from Domaine Laroche and with a bit of luck and the right price, some of these wines will be appearing on the shelves of your nearest Secret Cellar shop very soon. Click below to see tasting notes
Chablis Tasting Notes
New Zealand Wines Promotion - May 2010
Throughout the month of May, we'll be promoting the wonderful wines of New Zealand under our "Inspired by New Zealand" promotion. As well as offering generous discounts on all New Zealand wines throughout the month, there will be a number of competitions, tastings and fun. See below for details (promotion runs in both Tunbridge Wells and Oxted stores):
- 10% discount on all NZ wine purchases throughout May. This includes New Zealand wine purchased online - use the Coupon code NZPROMO at checkout.
- free tastings throughout the month - a minimum of 5 wines always available to taste.
- £10 Taster (Tun Wells) - Thursday 6th May - some brilliant wines on show (see Tastings & Events for details).
- the chance to win a wine fridge in a New Zealand Winegrowers' competition.
- free menu cards and food match suggestions.
- our own Grand Cru tasting (in Tunbridge Wells) where we'll ask you to judge the best New Zealand Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc on Saturday May 15th.
- the chance to win a £200 case of wine from The Secret Cellar in our wine & food matching competition. Simply organise a meal or dinner party featuring some Kiwi wine purchased from us, then take a photo and email it to us with your food/wine match and why you think you deserve the case of wine. Please only send photos of your dinner party rather than what happens afterwards!! We look forward to receiving some imaginative emails. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st May 2010.
Enjoy the wines and good luck with the competitions.
Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur - April 2010
Right, we're back. Is it as good as they say? Well, yes and no. Whilst it's not as consistent across the board as other great vintages, the best wines really are outstanding and there's lots of other great wines too. Whilst the top wines are going to be in massive demand (meaning massive prices), we've also found some lesser known gems that will appeal to those that want to drink the stuff, rather than just invest in it.
Prices are released over the next few weeks, so we'll put out our price list as soon as we can, but tasting notes can be viewed below. Please email email@example.com if you'd like the price list sent to you when released.
As last year, we'll allow customers to mix cases so you don't have to commit to full cases of each claret. Let us know if you'd like more details.
Bordeaux 2009 Tasting Notes
Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur Campaign - April 2010
Mike and David are off to Bordeaux at the end of March to taste the much hyped 2009 vintage. Starting with Mouton on Monday morning, we'll be tasting hundreds of clarets to find the best that Bordeaux can offer. As last year, we'll be offering our unique en primeur campaign whereby customers can mix cases, rather than buying full cases of each wine. As long as prices don't go too crazy, it should be a good vintage to buy. Full report and tasting notes to follow shortly.....
New things happening - January 2010
What with one thing and another, it's been a couple of months since we updated this page. Plenty of excuses though - the busy Christmas period being one; trying to find a third store another; plus all the round of tastings that happen each January. However, we're now settling down a bit and a few improvements to tell you about.
The first is our new tasting machine in Tunbridge Wells that means free samples are available every day, not just on our Saturday tastings. Sign up to our newsletters for details of what's on. Secondly, we've finally got a load of glasses so we can offer the free glass hire that you keep asking about. Thirdly, there's masses of new exciting wines arriving, details of which will be sent via newsletter and uploaded onto the website as they arrive. Some cracking stuff including Argentina's (and the world's) first Malbec Torrontes blend - Malbrontes. Yes, it's the name of the wine. No, he doesn't play for Fulham any more. We've also got our own van now for deliveries (rather than sticking them in the back of my car), so call if you'd like a smart young man to deliver wine to your door rather than facing David in the shop.
And finally, we're working with a small group of like-minded independent merchants across the country in order to offer a real national alternative to the big boys. More details to follow shortly.
Master of Wine Joins The Secret Cellar Team - October 2009
We're delighted to welcome aboard Master of Wine, Nick Adams, who will be working closely with us from October 2009. Nick has been an MW since 1992 and has worked with an extensive list of the world's top producers, as well as holding some prominent positions within the UK wine trade. He's one of the most down to earth Masters of Wine there is, making dealing with him not only informative but also great fun, and it's an honour to have him as part of our team.
Nick's focus will be on organising tasting events (especially dinners and corporate events), conducting wine tours for small groups, cellar plans, Master of Wine recommendation cases, and sourcing new gems for our list. He will be a real benefit to our business.
More details will be forthcoming but please do contact us if you have a request.
WineOneHundred by The Secret Cellar in Oxted opens - September 2009
After much hard work, we opened officially on Friday 4th September, with Jilly Goolden popping open a bottle of Bollinger RD 1996 to celebrate (that's Jilly on the right, Mike in the middle and Mike's wife, Jo, on the left).
With the emphasis on offering the one hundred best tasting wines available today, and allowing customers to sample the wines before buying, we've been warmly welcomed into the local community and we look forward to a long and successful stay in Oxted.
International Wine Challenge & Decanter Awards 2009
We were delighted to be shortlisted this year for the Small Independent Merchant of the Year at both the IWC and Decanter awards (these were the trophies we picked up a couple of years ago) but, despite our best efforts, we were pipped in both by The Sampler. Whilst we would have loved to have won them again, congratulations to Jamie, Dawn and the team at The Sampler. Well deserved.
New store opening in Oxted, Surrey - WineOneHundred by The Secret Cellar - August 2009
Apologies for not updating this page for a couple of months, but we've all been busying away working towards our new store which is due to open in Oxted, Surrey at the end of August. Called WineOneHundred by The Secret Cellar, the shop's core range will simply be the 100 best tasting wines available at that moment in time. Offering our wines in this way means that we can make purchase cost savings, which we can pass on to you, and we can keep the wine list fresh and exciting, focusing on those wines that taste brilliant at that particular time. The new store will also offer a decent selection of fine wines, champagnes, ports, dessert wines and beers, with lots to try before you buy, and there'll still be the same high levels of care, attention and service that you've come to expect from us. More news on the Grand Opening shortly.
2008 Bordeaux En Primeur - Pick & Mix Your Own Case
We've finally put together our en primeur offer, which is different to any other merchant in the UK (as far as we are aware). Rather than force customers to buy each of their wines by the full case, we are offering clients the chance to pick and mix their own cases. We've chosen about 20 wines across the board (from Lafite down to some reasonably priced wines) that we tasted and rated highly, and we're offering them to you at opening prices. You just have to make up cases of 12 bottles to fit your tastes and budget. Full details of the offer (and an explanation of what en primeur is all about for those new to the game), tasting notes, prices and order form can be found on the links below.
Pick & Mix En Primeur Offer
Bordeaux 2008 Tasting Notes and Prices
If you enjoy drinking good claret, then you won't find a better offer out there.
2008 Bordeaux En Primeurs
Mike has just got back from Bordeaux tasting all the 2008 wines that are soon to be released en primeur. (For those new to this game, that means you pay for the wines now whilst they are still ageing in the barrels, and you get the wine delivered in about 2 years' time. And the benefits, you ask? Well, the idea is that, by paying early, you get a price that is a lot less than the price when the wines are actually bottled and released. So, if you enjoy drinking fine claret, this is a good way to purchase). Full tasting notes to be posted soon, but a brief overview is that there are some very good wines that will represent really good short to medium term drinking if (and it's a big "if") the release prices are sensible. Early indications are that they will be, but it's the French we're dealing with here, so who knows.... Watch this space for the tasting notes and our first ever en primeur offer (which will be very different to every other merchant). Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more in the meantime.
The Secret Cellar starts to Twitter - March 2009
Many of you will say that we're always twittering on about something or other, however we have started using the social networking site twitter to post various updates about what we're doing, tasting, etc. Whilst we can't claim to be prolific posters, if you do want to keep up to date with what's going on with us then you can follow us at www.twitter.com/thesecretcellar.
International Wine & Spirits Challenge - South East Merchant of the Year 2008
Well, what a nice way to end 2008 and begin 2009, with another award for us - this time from the IWSC. We heard about this very prestigious award during the Christmas rush so sorry we've been a bit slow announcing it. However, we're very chuffed with ourselves to have been recognised for our efforts. Thanks to the IWSC judges and our customers for supporting us.
New Year's Eve at The Black Pig
If you're looking for something to do this New Year's Eve, then why not trot off to The Black Pig gastro pub in the middle of Tunbridge Wells. As we all as a very fine looking menu on offer, we've supplied a number of superb wines to go with the food, so it should be a superb evening. You can have a good look at the menu and the wines here.
Christmas Opening Times 2008
For the first time this year, we'll be opening on a couple of Sundays coming up to Christmas - Sunday 14th 12 to 4 (which is our Grand Tasting weekend) and then on Sunday 21st 12 to 4 again. The rest of the hours are as normal. We look forward to seeing you in the shop.
International Wine Challenge 2008 - Highly Commended for South East Merchant of the Year
We are delighted to announce that we've been recognised again by the IWC, with a Highly Commended Award for the South East Regional Merchant of the Year category. Whilst this actually means we came second this year, it's great to be up there alongside some great independent merchants in the South East. And another great evening out at The Grosvenor for the Awards Ceremony.
The Weekend Tasting Table - July 2008
One thing that we've always done as a wine merchant is to listen to our customers, and one thing that we keep being asked for is even more tastings. So, hey presto, your wish is our command. Starting in July, every fortnight we'll host The Weekend Tasting Table. A pretty simple concept - on the Friday & Saturday, the large table in the front window will have a number of wines on it available to taste at your leisure (obviously in the hope that you will like and buy some of them). We'll ping an email out to our mailing list a couple of days before to tell you what's going to be on and then we look forward to seeing you if you fancy it. It's all free most weekends, although every so often we'll put out some really top kit and we may make a small charge for this. Keep an eye on those emails for some brilliant wines over the coming months....
We are delighted to be working with New Zealand Winegrowers’ Association for our Summer promotion of
As well as the Masterclass, we’ll have the following:
● Free Grand Tasting on Saturday 7th June, showcasing 15+
● A range of wines available to taste in store throughout the promotion
● 10% discount on all
● Special mixed case offers
● Customer competitions – prizes include a £1,000 Fisher & Paykel wine fridge
● Food matching ideas and menu cards courtesy of our Kiwi friends
● A chance to discover the range of superb wines available from this wonderful country
Price increases - but you've still got time!!
I know it's not easy news to digest but, like everyone else in the industry, our prices are having to increase. You'll be aware of the extra 14p that the Chancellor added per bottle, but what you may not be aware of is the other factors that have contributed to the increases. The main one is the relative weakness of the pound against other currencies (adding 10% plus to cost prices in some cases), but we have also had increases in transport costs (high fuel prices) as well as there being fewer grapes in the world (many countries have experienced drought conditions). Oh, and to add to this, the cost of glass has soared. Nice.
Seems all doom and gloom for the discerning wine drinker, but it's not all bad. Firstly, we're keeping the increases to a bare minimum, so it shouldn't be too bad. But, better than that, we're keeping our prices the same until April 1st 2008. No, it's not an April Fool's joke, it's just that we've got a lot of wines to re-price and it takes a bit of time. You, dear customer, are the winners in this as long as you get your orders in within the next couple of weeks.
Happy 1st Birthday Emily
It's David's daughter Emily's 1st Birthday on Sunday 2nd March, so Happy Birthday from all of us!! David is dressing up as Iggle Piggle from In The Night Garden, complete with little blanket, and a picture will be posted here shortly.
Tasting events for 2008 released
Sorry it's a bit later than usual this year, but we've been incredibly busy through January and February (which is fantastic, as it's normally a quieter period). Anyway, we've finally confirmed what we're doing, with whom and when, and the full list of events can be seen on our Tastings & Events page (link at bottom of page).
We've got four great Masterclasses throughout the year, as well as two Free Grand Tastings, a repeat of our successful Be a Wine Buyer night, and lots of corporate & private events in between times, so it should be a busy and fun year....
A big heartfelt thanks to all of our customers and suppliers that made 2007 such a brilliant year. We promise you that we're working even harder to improve on every aspect of what we do so that we make 2008 better still.
STOP PRESS - THE SECRET CELLAR WINS TOP MERCHANT AWARDS
International Wine Challenge 2007 - Small Independent Merchant of the Year and South East Merchant of the Year
Hot on the heels of our Decanter success, we are equally delighted to be awarded the Small Independent Merchant and the South East Merchant of the Year in this year's International Wine Challenge. Thanks to all the judges at the IWC, we are very honoured indeed.
Decanter World Wine Awards - Small Independent Merchant of the Year 2007
We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have won the very prestigious Small Independent Merchant of the Year award at Decanter's World Wine Awards. The winning merchant was decided by public vote and we collected our award at a fabulous ceremony on Tuesday 4th September. We'd like to thank everyone that voted for us and we are understandably thrilled with the result. Thank you.
The above photo is of Steven Spurrier, Mike (looking a bit like Bruce Forsythe) and David (looking a little pie eyed).
David's trip to Northern Italy - September 2007
Notes shortly to be added of David's buying trip to Piedmont and the Veneto, including a detailed account of his killer mosquito encounter. We're lucky to have him back......
The Secret Cellar Rating System - August 2007
Confused by the multitude of points scoring systems presented by the experts? So are we, so we've devised our own rating system to try and simplify matters a touch (you'd think we had nothing better to do....).
There's no points scored in our system, just a simple rating given by us based on the quality of the wine and the value for money. Our ratings are as follows:
Exceptional - the top rating and one we don't hand out lightly. No siree.
Outstanding - a wine that we rate as being outstanding quality and value.
Excellent - as it says in the tin, but bear in mind that we do have very high standards.
Very Good - wines that are well made and offer good value for money
Good - I know that simply "good" wines shouldn't really appear on our list, but occasionally new vintages just aren't as great as the previous ones.
It's a massive job, but over the next few months we'll be re-tasting and rating every wine on our list so we can try and make life for customers a little less complicated. Whilst we will still quote Parker, Robinson et al, we'd like to think that, as an independent, we can offer you our own view.
Silver Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 featured in The Sunday Times Style Magazine - August 2007
As Courtney Cox's favourite wine (Monica from Friends), available only from yours truly (we have the last few cases stocked in the UK). We had an order for this wine from Justin Timberlake last week as well, so act fast if you want to have a taste of what the stars are drinking this summer..... And it is a rather good wine.
Mike's Wine Tour of Australia and New Zealand - March 2007
Invited to a two week tour of wineries in Oz and New Zealand by one of our suppliers, Liberty Wines, what else could I say but "yes please". And what an amazing experience it was - very tiring (all the travelling) but incredibly rewarding!
Please click here for the full tasting notes of the trip - and there's a couple of photos below to show what hard work the trip was.
Plunging the cap in McLaren Vale.
Irrigating the vines in Marlborough.
Tastings & Events
Wooden Wine Box Co.