Wine Wisdom - The Cabinet Inn, Reed, nr Royston

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Article on Wine at the Cabinet Inn, Reed nr Royston

The Cabinet Inn, High Street, Reed, near Royston, Hertfordshire SG8 8AH Tel: 01763 848366

This 15th century coaching inn is both the local pub for Reed - a single village that's swallowed up what used to be five smaller ones - and a destination for weekend walkers and day-trippers intent on hiking or mountain biking.

Paul Bloxham reckons it's located in the highest point in Southern England - and he and his team have been setting equally vertigo-inducing standards since taking it over a few years ago, whether appealing to the Mercedes set in the restaurant or the tractor brigade in the bar.

Talking to propriertor/head chef Paul Bloxham

Type of food

Very much regional and seasonal. Much of the meat and veg (70% or so) comes off the farm next door, which doesn't get much more local. Prepared "very simply".

Number of wines on the list

About 100.

Wines by the glass

The whole lot, if you want. I'm not scared to open any bottle. Once it's open, we'll sell it that evening. We've got good staff here. Even on an expensive bottle of wine, you have to look at how much you might be writing off - often only £25, say. You have to take a village attitude. I can't be dictatorial like I was in London.

House wines

About 10. I divide my wines into cabinets: French, European and New World and I've got a selection in each. They start at around £12.50, with things like Rooks Lane Shiraz/Cabernet/Sangiovese or Boland Cellars Chenin Blanc.

Most expensive wines on list

Tignanello 1995 Supertuscan, a Premier Cru Nuits St George Cuvée Signature, and a Chapoutier Cote Rotie all for £95. Krug 1990 is £199, Cristal £135.

Most used merchant Bibendum.

I've worked with them for many years.

Typical mark-up

Your business has to make 70%, so you mark it up at that, then see what it looks like on paper. My fine wines are usually 40% to 60% because I want to see people drinking them. The fast-movers are your bricks and mortar. They've got to achieve 70% or you're going to go out of business.

Countries to watch

Italy, Portugal and especially Spain, who are making a massive noise. Marques de Caceres' Gran Reserva and their Reserva Gaudium are brilliant. I can't sell enough of it. Antea white Rioja is flying as well.

Trends you're seeing

Last year was South Africa, especially for Sauvignon Blanc. This year it's rosé, Spain and back towards France. You've got the young bucks taking over and putting a lot of energy back into the vineyards.

How do you make wine sell?

Offer it by the glass and give people a little bit to try. If you believe in something it's easier to sell.

Do you run any events?

Occasionally. I'm going to do something with tapas and Spanish wines in the summer.

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