You know you’re in good hands when a wine is described as a slap in the face and way too hip hop for drinking after 9pm. This particular wine was also characterised by not having “screaming gooseberry” flavours, and the ideal one to pour in your glass when you’ve had a ***** of a day at work.
The wine merchant is Sean Welsh at Flourish and Prosper in Howden in the East Riding. The wine, False Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from South Africa, comes at the entry level price of £6.99. And delicious it is too, dry, herbaceous, with a slight prickle but none of the over the top tropical flavours which can come from Southern Hemisphere SBs. My kind of wine, my kind of wine merchant.
Sean and his wife Julie have been in their shop in Bridgegate for the last 18 months since he stopped travelling for the champagne firm Bollingerto achieve a quieter life. Together they’ve created a little gem, a wine shop (with more than 500 wines), a deli, and a cafe with a very distinct personality.
Sean began in the hotel and restaurant industry, but then found out what he was good at – being a salesman. And, boy, is he good. Not pushy, a fount of knowledge, and a quick understanding of what people want. No bull.
He arranges his wines by style, beginning with light to the left and ending up with the blockbusters at the far right. So you’ve got wines from different countries, different grape varieties sharing the same shelf on the premise that if that’s what you like, you may decide to try something new. Most of us, says Sean, are pretty unadventurous. Which is where his advice and suggestions come in.
He does deals, knows his market and operates with tighter profit margins than his London counterparts. Whilst we were there, the owner of the local Chinese, who is a wine nut, came into browse the champagne shelves. He later called to ask the price of something he’d spotted – £46 a bottle to him as a regular customer.
Ironically, Julie is allergic to wine, but shares her husband’s love of good food and good quality. She stocks cheeses, charcuterie, pickles, jams biscuits and other lovely things.
Some are local like Holmfirth’s Grumpy Mule coffee, Bracken Hill preserves from Elvington, White Rabbit chocolate from Beverley and Lowna Dairies’ cheeses. But there are Spanish goodies from Brindisa, cheese from Neal’s Yard and beyond, olives imported by a firm in Dorset. The list goes on.
On Fridays and Saturdays Sean and Julie do deli platter lunches in the room above the shop – bread, a selection of cheese, salami, pickle and a good glass of wine at a bargain £12 for two. If you want to be served something you’ve spotted in the deli as an extra, you’ll only be charged shop prices. Our slate board had Beenleigh Blue, a Ribblesdale and a Wigton cheese selection, a course pate from Brindisa, tomato jam and a huge basket of chunky granary bread. Delicious and showed off the Ribuera del Dueroto perfection. Lucky Howden.
Flourish and Prosper, 64, Bridgegate, Howden, East Yorkshire, DN14 7JH Tel: 01430 430006 www.flourish-and-prosper.com