wine merchants and department stores
The traditonal haunts of the well-heeled wine shoppers. The advantages include specialised
staff knowledge, the availability of rare, interesting and small production wines, and
high levels of service. The disadvantage can be the higher prices often encountered, but
then you wouldn't really be shopping here for wines readily available from supermarkets
and high street chains whose volume buying can permit keener pricing.
Noel Young Wines
Top notch Cambridge-based operation with a huge, interesting and eclectic list.
Good prices. I've ordered from them before and received excellent service.
Until last year they had a shop in Primrose Hill which used to be a nice
lunchtime walk through Regent's Park from my Central London workplace, but this has now
been closed. Excellent fine wine range; slightly less interesting 'normal' range mostly
consisting of the wines that they are agents for in the UK. Manages to combine the best of
the old-style merchants with a more modern business approach.
Berry Bros & Rudd
Ultratraditional St James' St shop has to be seen to be believed: it is like a
museum! Berry Bros is an institution. Surprisingly for such an old fashioned merchant,
they have a pioneering online sales site. Prices on the high side.
Justerini & Brooks
Another ultratraditional St James' St merchant. You are greeted by polite young
chaps in pinstripe suits with impeccable accents who thrust a list into your hands, from
which you can order -- most of the stock is not held in the shop but must be delivered the
next day from the warehouse. Good list and mostly reasonable prices.
Fortnum & Mason
Wonderful department store on Picadilly, which has a lovely warm, traditional
feel to it. Excellent although slightly limited selection at fair prices: you'll find
things here that are difficult to obtain elsewhere. Helpful staff. Strong on Western
Australia, for some reason.
As you might expect, very strong on the classic regions. Impressive array of
famous names, with a few hidden gems tucked away. Prices are high, but you won't be coming
here for £7 Australian wines! It's a fun place to shop.
Rather refined atmosphere, and the staff can come across a little snooty, but
excellent, thorough range. Pricey though.
An excellent, imaginative range, particularly strong on Portuguese wines. Staff
are very helpful, and the store lacks that rather discouraging snootiness that some of its
central London counterparts possess.