What The Press Have Said
FSB Voice Nov/Dec 2016
The Leicester Mercury 21 Sep 2016
FSB supporting Small Business Saturday
she's gearing up for the event: FSB member Emma Robson, of Bat and Bottle wine merchants
The New Statesman, by Roger Scruton January 2004
Bat and Bottle
The true love of wine is a love of people, cultures, landscapes and their history. It is a desire to drink the inner meaning of things, and to do so without damaging the planet. Good merchants understand this and help us to subsidize reputable people, living in settled ways, in places that they love, without troubling them with a visit. This was what Ben and Emma Robson had in mind, when they dropped everything and went with their two small daughters to Italy, there to explore the by-ways of the Colli Euganee to the west of Padua, and to acquire the expertise required to run their mail-order business back home. If, like me, you appreciate the wonderful volcanic landscapes of North East Italy, while having not the slightest intention to visit them except in the glass, then you should make contact with the Bat and Bottle, situated in Oakham (email@example.com).
Italian wine is of two kinds: that prepared for foreign morons and distributed through chain stores, and that which must be hunted down by those with love in their hearts and time on their hands. The wines discovered by the Robsons are of the second kind. Their labels are written in Italian, their flavours are Italian, and their quality fully explains why their growers are so reluctant to release them onto the global market. Our encounter with the Robsons’ list helped us through the horror of Christmas, until the thankyou letters had been written and the toys were all on the fire.
Inevitably attracted to an estate with the name of Le Volpi, we opened the 1999 Cabernet Franc-Carmenère blend half expecting a musky whiff of fox-scent. We were at once surrounded and captivated by a fruity claret-like aroma, as the dark damson-coloured liquid filled the glass. At £9.50 a bottle this is a match for any claret at that price. A catalogue photograph of the vineyards of Le Volpi, with a view across to the Arqua’ Petrarca, shows conclusively that it would be such a crime to open this place to the tourist trade that we are under an obligation to drink its spirit at home.
One of the Robsons’ greatest discoveries comes from a region that we associate with plonk: the Valpolicella. Most Valpolicella is made from the grapes that are left over after the best have been set aside for drying, before being made into Amarone. The Robsons’ Casel Vegri 1998 is from an old family estate that makes real Valpolicella from the very best grapes, and the result is an extraordinary revelation of how wonderful this wine can be.
If you think that champagne is an over-rated drink for over-rated people, you should celebrate your next divorce with an Italian Prosecco, of which the Robsons have excellent examples. Rather than describe all the wonders that these serendipitous travellers have brought home with them, however, I urge you to visit them yourself.
Rutland Living November 2004, (when Ben had hair):