We’re thrilled to have added to the team here in our Truro wine shop with the extremely knowledgeable and experienced Simon Pearson. You can find him in the shop on Wednesdays and Thursdays, where he’s quickly become a hit with our regular visitors.
We waylaid Simon for a chat about his background in the wine trade, tapping into insights from his four decades in the business.
What first bought you into the world of wine?
My Father was very keen on wine, as was my Grandfather, who had a capacious cellar. When I decided aged 21 that University was not my forte, family friend Anthony Hanson (a founder of wine merchants Haynes, Hanson & Clark), encouraged me to go into the wine trade. I started as a Trainee Manager for a London retail chain but didn’t find it very inspiring.
However, after that followed a 5-month stint working in the cellars of a family winery in Germany's Nahe Valley, several months in Bordeaux, as well as a year in Australia – all recommended by Anthony as part of my basic training.
The experience of travel and seeing the cultural importance of wine in different regions sharpened my appetite for going into the trade. I also loved seeing how food and wine are interrelated, whichever wine growing region of the world you happen to be in.
How did you come to join The Old Chapel Team?
I first met Jamie when he worked for Laymont and Shaw, whose wines we stocked at Shampers, the restaurant and bar we ran in London’s West End from 1991 until 2021.
When he relaunched the business as Old Chapel Cellars, Jamie continued to supply us.
After Shampers closed Jamie and Louisa asked me if I would be interested in working in the shop. It seemed to me the perfect way to stay connected with the wine trade, and to work surrounded by people who share my passion.
What’s your role here at Old Chapel?
I work in the wine shop, looking after anyone who crosses the threshold, as well as putting together and sending out orders.
What do you think is the most intriguing wine style, grape or region and why?
I have always loved Riesling, with its ability to be taut and acidic when young, and become honeyed and graceful with age.
I also love Loire Chenin Blanc, like Montlouis, Vouvray and Savennieres for the same reason.
Actually, I love most wines, and think that wine’s capacity to reflect where it’s from makes every wine (ok, most wines!) interesting. Not forgetting the employment of biodynamic and organic principles, as well as minimum intervention in the winemaking process.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy interesting wines. Shopping with an independent merchant means that what’s in the bottle will always be more important than the branding.
What’s your favourite thing to advise on in the shop?
I enjoy figuring out what kind of tastes a customer has, and so trying to find what they really want to drink. It’s nice to be able to introduce people to a new wine you know they will like because you understand their tastes, or talk about food and wine matching ideas.
Which bottle did you take home last the weekend?
I bought a bottle of Martinez Lacuesta Rioja Blanco. I found it delicious, interesting and a bit exotic, with a rich mouthfeel balanced by lovely acidity. It was quite different to any white Rioja I can remember.
Which wine region would you most like to visit (that you haven’t already!)?
We had a bottle of Almalarga Godello from Riberia Sacra, Galicia a couple of weeks ago which was subtle and elegant but intense. When I looked up the vineyard, I was gobsmacked by the area's beauty and the near vertical sites where the vines are grown, a bit like the Mosel. North West Spain is still underrated I think, with its nod to the Atlantic rather then the Med. I’d very much like to visit there and find out more, plus I’m sure the seafood is excellent.