The wine cellar style interior of Cavavin in Newcastle. Photograph by Graham Soult

Today, I started my morning at a pub in Durham – visiting The Waiting Room as part of my Indie Durham City work – and ended it in a wine shop in Newcastle!

Cavavin is apparently a well-known fascia and buying group in France, but it is still relatively new to the UK. There are currently five franchisee-run UK stores, including this one in Newcastle that opened a few months ago.

Cellar feel

Cavavin's bright interior catches the eye. Photographs by Graham Soult
Cavavin’s bright interior catches the eye. Photographs by Graham Soult

Cavavin occupies a refurbished railway arch in Westgate Road, not far from the French Quarter and the Split Chimp. Apparently it’s the first time anything has traded from this arch in 30 years.

Railway arches can be challenging spaces, but this one works really well for Cavavin – the curved roof almost creates a wine cellar feel, and the bright and striking interior catches the eye of passers-by. French wines are on the right; everything else on the left.

Exclusive range

The range includes some unusual Lebanese wines. Photograph by Graham Soult
The range includes some unusual Lebanese wines. Photographs by Graham Soult

Store MD Ash is awash with knowledge about the wines that he stocks, and was telling me that most are exclusive to Cavavin, thanks to the direct relationships with wine producers that the company has nurtured.

I always like “Rest of the World” wines, so made a beeline for the section with some interesting Lebanese bottles – plus a Moroccan that I may well try next time.

Brave location

Overall, the location is quite brave, but it does work – and the shopfit, range and service are certainly good enough to build up a loyal following via word of mouth.

Ash was pleased with the reaction to Cavavin so far, and I wish him all the best for the future!

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