Wandering on to the Roberson Wine e-store can be a hazardous business. Tempting offers pop up all over the shop and it’s dangerously easy to navigate and buy. You can even purchase a single bottle for delivery to a UK address, though the likelihood of doing so is slim given the choice on offer. “We want every wine we sell to be the best of its type, from a £10 rosé to a £3,000 grand cru burgundy,” says owner Cliff Roberson, who opened Roberson Wine as a bricks-and-mortar shop in Kensington in 1991 before moving the business online.
Shoppers can browse by “collection” – curated lists such as Wines with Hygge, or Almost Famous, a cache of undiscovered but on-the-up finds – or by region. Click on Alsace, for example, and the selection is dominated by maverick biodynamic natural wine producer Jean-Michel Deiss (co-planted, multi-varietal Engelgarten 2014, £38) with some gems from 13th-generation winery Trimbach (Clos Ste Hune 2012, £459 for three). Bordeaux is inevitably well-represented, from Château Ausone’s much-prized (and hyped) 2005 vintage at £2,090, to the £17-a-bottle Château Franc-Cardinal 2012, from the Francs Côtes de Bordeaux sub-appellation, the newest, smallest and currently most underrated of the region’s AOPs.
If Spain is beginning to creep across your vinous bows (and it should), the offering ranges from the crisp, cheerful Paco y Lola Albariño (£15) from Galicia, to the mighty Unico 2005 (£669.60 for three) from Bodega Vega Sicilia, Spain’s equivalent of Château Latour, according to wine expert Hugh Johnson. Germany is the only weak point, with only the Mosel and Rheinhessen represented, albeit by top producers like Ernst Loosen and Markus Molitor (the latter’s Badstube Riesling Auslese 2015, £51, is an “astonishingly fine, age-worthy Riesling”). Vegan-friendly wines also get a look in at a dedicated section that includes the aforementioned Deiss and Franc-Cardinal offerings, as well as the Californian (US wines are another of the site’s strong points) Monterey Pinot Noir 2013 (£17) from Italian emigré winemakers Moobuzz.
Those overwhelmed by the choices can opt instead for the Wine Club: a quarterly subscription service (£99 per quarter) that delivers (to residents of England, Wales and southern Scotland) a mixed case of six interesting (“or just plain delicious”) wines, with accompanying notes. And Roberson continues to innovate, operating “London’s first, fully operational urban winery” in Fulham, producing own-label wines with grapes of varying provenance. The London Cru Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (£15), for example, was made from grapes grown in southern France, but the focus is increasingly shifting to English grapes. Tours and tastings are also on offer.