23 March, 2007

Nicholas Dawes

Bertrand & Nicholas, Bourne End, Buck


Your shop is burning down - what three things do you grab as you leg it

My favourite wine, Mas de Daumas Gassac from the Languedoc, the till drawer and a fire extinguisher.

What's the most bizarre thing that has happened to you while serving a customer?

Before Christmas one of our regulars came in for a sweet wine tasting and we offered her a glass of port. I was talking to her about the tasting and as she was standing in front of me sipping her drink, she started nodding off. My conversation is obviously very scintillating!

How do you deal with irritating customers?

I'm not lying when I say we like everyone who comes in. Our customers are bloody superb, we're quite gobsmacked. We don't have any troubles with kids, we tell them not to try buying from us and they leave the shop alone. Nobody is rude or sarcastic, they're fantastic people.

Would you still go to work if you won the lottery?

I would but I wouldn't do as many hours. I would choose to be here for the busy times because I would miss that, but I wouldn't be here for 12 hours a day. This would become a hobby which is what it ought to be.

If you could swap jobs with anyone for one day, who would it be?

There's a chap who comes into the shop, a big giant of a man, who owns a farm. He's just planted an acre of vines and has made his first wine which he brought for us to taste. He was beaming and we're so chuffed for him. It's his spirit that appeals to me and, given the chance, I would like to do the same thing. If I could speak French fluently I would move to France and make my own wine.

What gadget or piece of technology can you not do without?

The computer is invaluable for things such as keeping tasting notes. I find that copy and paste is a life-saver when it comes to making tasting notes for our wine club.

Your philosophy in a nutshell?

At my age I want to enjoy the best I can find and have the quality rather than the quantity. When you realise you're half a century old you make everything count.

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I was asked recently what I thought the biggest change had been in wine fashion in the past five years. My answer was unequivocal: sales of pink wines. From being a niche that expanded and contracted with the sunshine, rosé has subtly but steadily become a stalwart of many merchants’ ranges, with Provence firmly at the top and asked for by name.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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