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South London gets “Whirly” wine shop

A new independent wine shop opens in south London today which brings completely new labels to the UK off-trade.

Wine distributor Whirly Wines has opened its first shop in London’s SW17

Called Whirly Wines after the founder’s existing wine importing and distributing business, the shop is located in Balham’s Ritherdon Road, on the site of Thorold Wines, which closed over six months ago.

Speaking to the drinks business yesterday, Simon Newson, founder of Whirly Wines, said he had been looking for a retail outlet for the past 2.5 years, having established a business supplying restaurants and private customers with a range of exclusive wines back in 2001.

He described the site in London’s SW17 as a “great location”, pointing out that all the neighbouring shops were independent, as well as the restaurant next door, called The French Café.

He also said that the response from local residents has been one of interest and support, and noted that the people living in the area were “discerning”.

Whirly Wines will carry a range of around 130 wines which Newson said were all sourced by himself over the past 12 years, and, as a result, wouldn’t be found anywhere else in the UK.

Whirly Wines’ shop at 22 Ritherdon Road

Although the range is global, there is a bias towards wines from Australia and the Pacific Northwest coast of America due to Newson’s extensive travels around the wine regions in these areas.

Newson was restaurant manager at London’s Bibendum Restaurant in Knightsbridge until late 1999, leaving just before the start of the new millennium because he “didn’t want to work another New Year’s eve”.

After nine months spent travelling around vineyards in Australia he returned to the UK to start Whirly Wines, an importer and distributor focused on the London on-trade.

His shop sees the range of wines arranged alphatecially according to grape variety, and he has also obtained an on-premise licence, allowing him to serve wines for consumption in the shop.

Of note are the wines from Australia and Oregon, which include a 2003 Shiraz/Viognier from Cobaw Ridge in the Macedon Ranges, a 2001 Willespie Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River, a 2008 Pinot Noir from Amity Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and a 2006 Chardonnay from Bethel Heights, just six miles south of Amity.

“All the wines have been sourced by me, and you can only find them in the UK through me, apart from one,” he told db, admitting that he had decided to augment his exclusive range with Casal Garcia’s Vinho Verde rosé, “because it’s so good”.

Simon Newson outside the shop, which was formerly Thorold Wines

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