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John Gordons

Independent Wine Merchant crack

For the gourmand, Cheltenham is a hard place to be. However, if a decent bottle of wine or spirits is what you fancy, John Gordons, independent wine merchant, is there to help.

Situated in one of Montpellier’s prime positions John Gordons opened in 2007 as a wine and spirits merchant and bistro with live music at the weekends. Shelves cover the walls, straining under the weight of bottles of every shape and size from a dozen different countries.

Gordon is a jovial man with a mane of white hair and a ready wit. What did he think about Cheltenham’s lack of decent wine shops? “I think it’s a great pity and, when you think about it, quite surprising. There is certainly a lack of niche shops here.”

And how did he get started? “I had a small trade company in St. George’s Place supplying wine to hotels, bars and restaurants. Soon after we opened that, these premises became available. It’s a prime position, a beautiful shop and we have the use of the arcade.”

The arcade is a unique feature and has vastly improved since Gordon set up his tables there. “Absolutely, and we have live music, usually jazz, here every Friday and Saturday night in the summer. It’s a great atmosphere, it’s nearly always full and you could almost imagine yourself in Paris. ”The music is an important part of the set-up at John Gordons. “It’s very informal – there’s no stage and no special lighting. There is limited space for the music so it’s normally just a duo or trio. But it’s nearly always jazz in one form or another, so is not really intrusive while you are eating.”

What had been his grand design when he opened the shop, what was his mission statement? “To get
people to realise that they could drink house wines that are good. That was one of my main ambitions. Frequently when I’ve eaten out, I’m sure it’s the same for everyone; the house red or white is undrinkable. But we British don’t really like to complain, so there you are.”

But it’s not just wines that Gordon sells. “I suppose we specialise in whiskies. We have over 200 different ones at the moment. We’ve got single malt whiskies from Scotland, Ireland and Japan and bourbons from America. There are very few places that have as many brands as we do. Our wines are from all over but we have a particularly good selection of Bordeaux.”

How does he find his stock? Surely he couldn’t visit all the distilleries himself. “I wish.” he laughed, throwing back his head, making his mane of white hair glisten in the sun. “I get up to Speyside sometimes, where most of the distilleries are, but I’m really too busy here. We have an excellent supplier in Elgin and we also use half a dozen importers for our wine.