People in Wine #1
September 4, 2009
General Manager of bottle apostle
Mention Hackney to a lot of Londoners and they recoil with comments about guns, gangs and stabbings. Not the first place then to consider opening a new wine shop. While the borough does have some run down estates and troublesome spots the perception that it’s ALL crime infested is very far from the truth. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a lovelier place to live and raise a family than on the north side of Victoria Park.
In estate agent parlance this ‘village’ is now home to one of east London’s very few wine specialists, the cunningly named bottle apostle (the lower caps are intentional) which opened its doors just under two months ago. Situated alongside the renowned Ginger Pig Butchers and opposite a swathe of rather nice eateries, the area is full of first generation Hoxton hipsters looking for a more mellow pace of life, usually with a first or second child in tow. Bottle apostle is one of London’s most beautifully designed shops and stocks a good sized range of off-the-beaten-track wines, beers and spirits, CD&H caught up with Tom Jarvis to get his views…
Congratulations on the shop, it looks fantastic, what has the response from the public been like?
It’s been really positive: lots of “just what the area needed”, and “wow, this looks lovely”
The design, look and feel of the place is very different to most wine shops. How did this come about?
The backgrounds of the bottle apostle team are very wide ranging and include design led activities like property development and the hotel trade. We were very keen to develop a strong brand identity from day one, with a design level to match. As well as aesthetics, more practical matters were key – such as having plenty of room in store for pushchairs. We deliberately control the size of the range so that the shop does not get messy or intimidatingly full of wine and remains user-friendly.
How do you survive as a wine retailer in ‘uncertain economic times’?
Vary what you offer! Bottle and case sales, gift packs, wedding lists and so forth. We also 32 wines on tasting via our Enomatic machines, and a weekly line-up of events including introductory wine tasting classes, food and wine matching and winemaker events
What would you say is the driving force behind the wines you stock?
Tasting them before we stock them and saying “yum”
Do you have any particular specializations?
I have a passion for Italy, Portugal and New Zealand are also doing well, as are lesser-known French wines such as Picpoul and Pacherenc de Vic-Bilh. But we aren’t intentionally specialising just yet.
Which wines have proved to be the most popular so far?
Our two Grüner Veltliners from Kamptal; Hirsch‘s 2006 Heiligenstein (tangeriney! £14) and Birgit Eichinger‘s 2008 Hasel (appley and minerally, £11) are flying out. Our ‘house’ rose from Domaine Montplo (£6.50) is going great guns. Our Casteggio Oltrepo Pavese Barbera (£7.50) is shifting, as are all of our Barberas. At the top end the Douro blockbuster Meruge 2005 by Feitoria (£26) has gone down very well.
How did you get into wine in the first place?
I was interested in wine from my teens but only joined the wine trade after going into an Oddbins to get a bottle of vodka after being made redundant. I also picked up an application form and, once I’d sobered up…well the rest is history.
Are there any wines that you’d like to stock but can’t get at present?
Greece and the UK perhaps. Right now I’m more preoccupied with finding a nice small cider producer.
If money was no object what would you be buying at present?
A race tuned 250bhp delivery van with go faster stripes. Otherwise the last of the 96 Vintage Champagnes perhaps.
And in reality?
Am hoping to grab the last of Gimmonet‘s 2002 Fleuron. Überfizz.
Tell us about an aspect of your life that might come as a surprise…
I have led a very boring life.
95 Lauriston Road
020 8985 1549