Every other Friday afternoon Jamie Hutchinson sends a long email to his customers (he's the founder of The Sampler, a pair of wine shops in Islington and South Kensington, notable for their early adoption of those clever sampling machines which allow you to take an affordable mini-gargle of some Chateau Haut-Brion 1982).
I like his emails. Why? They have heart, they're unpretentious and they read as if they've been written by a man who loves the grape. He's admirably consistent, sending out his 1,500 words at the allotted hour every two weeks. The voice he uses is authentically his own: there's levity in it. And the emails are conversational, devoid of that stiff, businessy formality which bedevils so many sales messages, especially those from large corporations.
Friday's email included a link to the report on The Sampler's buccaneering buying trip to the southwest of France; I especially liked JH's wry introduction to several of the most outre wines he discovered...
• Les Cavailles Blanc 2009 £17.30. Made from the tediously familiar blend of 70% Mauzac, 20% L’en de Lel, and 10% Oundenc and fermented in cement.Sign up here, people.
• La Combe d’Aves Rouge 2007 £19.60. Again, just your everyday blend of 50% Braucol and 50% Duras. Very elegant in style – that lifted, natural nose and a red fruited and refreshing palate.
• La Grande Tertre 2010 £28.20. Sticking with the international varieties again, this is 90% Prunelard and 10% Braucol.