I was driving through Basingstoke recently. Not something that generally fills a person with joy, but this particular day there was a silver lining to the cloud. Up above the dual carriageway on a rather grim trading estate was the Berry Bros & Rudd Outlet Store. Yes, the oldest wine shop in the world, official supplier to royalty for generations has an outlet store in what was their old bottling plant.
Bin ends, over stocks, vintages that they no longer carry are all available at a minimum 25% discount on retail. They’ve tried really hard to make it look like a factory outlet, or a wine warehouse with a pile ’em high sell ’em cheap mentality, but it’s clear that they just don’t have the heart to do it, wines are carefully laid out and the bargain shopper is handed a pretty little wicker wine carrier to help them stock up. Any wines you identify as gifts are lovingly wrapped.
The staff are delightfully polite and helpful, bubbling over with enthusiasm for the wines, and keen to share a glass or two with you to help you decide. Basingstoke is suddenly a more attractive place to drive through.