Simon Taylor, owner-director: ‘I was at Sotheby’s for 23 years, as a picture expert and then as a manager. But I got fed up with meetings, admin and making people redundant, so I left in 2002 and set up my wine business the next month. Now I’m owner, director… in a small wine business you do everything.
'We tend to like wine made on the edges [of familiar regions]. For instance, this malbec (Vicien Malbec, Argentina 2006, £6.25) is from some of the remotest vineyards in the world, 5,000 feet up, on the edge of the Andes mountains in Catamarca, north-west Argentina. There’s no hail, no bugs, no fungus – no rain, either, they get their water from snowmelt. It’s a frankly insane place to make wine. But this tastes pure and fruity, with none of the jamminess Argentinian malbecs sometimes have. The sauvignon blanc (Fryer's Cove, Sauvignon Blanc, Bamboes Bay, South Africa, 2007 £10.25) is from another place on the edges: Bamboes Bay, 300km up from Cape Town, where the vineyards are in sight of the sea. The Atlantic is freezing there: the wind off them keeps the grapes cool and means they can make intensely flavoured wines.
'But if you told me I was only allowed to drink the wines of one region for the rest of my life, I’d go for Languedoc-Roussillon in France. In this country, we think of their wines as chugging wines but there are some marvellous small producers. They’re fantastic value – this is the best source of good reds in the £6-£9 bracket in the world. And the area’s full of young, hungry winemakers like Geraldine and Xavier Peyraud (Mas des Brousses, Coteaux du Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac, 2005, £10.95). Her family have been here 500 years; his are winemakers from Bandol. Their land is crammed right up against the Massif Central. They work hard, they know what they’re trying to achieve and the result is a wine like this, balanced, elegant and rounded. It’s for drinking now – all our wines are, it’s in the nature of mail order. We have a warehouse and a courier and if you order before 1pm you can be drinking your wine by the next working day.’