One of my favourite places to browse for and buy wine has just been awarded small independent wine merchant of the year in the prestigious International Wine Challenge, which announced its winners at a glittering dinner in London.
Just over the Yorkshire border in Clitheroe, but so close that we can call it one of our own, D Byrne and Co is housed in a Victorian building which has changed little since the company began in the 1870s, a rabbit warren of rooms, creaking floorboards, with shelves, floor space and underground cellars stacked to bursting with thousands of bottles. You feel like Alice in Wonderland, round every corner a new surprise, a bottle you’ve not seen before and plenty of big name wines too. In short it’s a magical shopping experience, the polar opposite of starkly lit wine warehouses. Knowledgeable staff, decent prices and a staggering selection – and they’re happy to let you browse at your own pace.
D Byrne is now run by the great grandsons of its founder Denis, who used to cross the fells regularly by horse and cart supplying groceries, animal feeds and a few wines and spirits to farmers in the area.
The boys, who are also previous winners, shared this year’s honour with London based wine bar and English wine champions Artisan And Vine.
The awards, probably the largest in the world, singled out Tesco as having best own label wine range – the Finest*, which has been championed here before, and they won three of the six best Great Value Champion categories with wines from the range, Champagne, rosé from Spain and sweet wine from de Bortoli in Oz. Waitrose won Supermarket of the Year, and Majestic the High Street chain of the year. [Helen]
You can see all the winners on www.internationalwinechallenge.com
D Byrne and Co, 12 King Street, Clitheroe, BB7 2EP. Tel 01200 423152 www.dbyrne-finewines.co.uk