Living The High Life

October 20th, 2017

Fellow wine Lovers,

How was last night?  Did you have a Gin and Tonic?  Shame, you should have done – following on from last week’s collection of national and international ‘days’, yesterday was International Gin & Tonic Day.  As proof, here is a link: – I think the two things that surprised us most were the fact that this is not the first year that this has been a ‘day’ and we’ve missed a trick and , perhaps more significantly, that none of our Gin suppliers (two of whom are solely Gin producers) made any mention of it to us.

As touched upon last week, ‘day’ saturation point has clearly now been surpassed, there are too many ‘days’ in the year for us to keep up with, whilst paradoxically there are not enough days in the year for all the ‘days’…

Moving swiftly on.

‘About two grand’

This is how much the Posh and the Becks allegedly spent on wine on a recent date night.

Not a lot really – with a combined worth of about £500 million, that is really the equivalent of me taking my beloved out for a couple of halves of Amstel and a sausage roll.  They consumed, according to the sources, a bottle of Chateau Margaux 1995 (nice choice, Victoria), a bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc 2012 (a trifle young, David) and a bottle of Chateau Lafleur 2006 (now that’s more like it, a bit of age and development).

Now, various commentators have tied themselves up in knots about the size of the bill et cetera but what we have to admire is a midweek date night that involves three bottles of wine, red wine no less, and not a glass of Prosecco in sight.

Beckhams – consider yourselves high fived!

‘About a hundred and fifty quid’

Yesterday was a tough day, one of those days that you’re all very lucky to be able to avoid.  But don’t show us too much pity because in fact we brought it all upon ourselves when we invited João from Sogevinus to pop in and see us.  João has the unenviable task of trying to sell Wayne port and he does this by pouring samples into glasses and then waving them under our noses before we taste and spit them out.  Or at least I spit them out, I couldn’t possibly comment on Wayne’s activities…

The ports all came from Kopke, a smaller house but as we well know, smaller does not diminish quality of course; they were established in 1638, is the eldest Porto wine export firm and is considered one of the leaders  in the “Porto Colheita” category.

So, what did we taste?

Kopke 10 year old White (half) – £23

Caramel, peach, soft and not as sweet as I expected at front, caramel again sweetens into the length and persistent peach stone fruit.

Kopke 10 year old Tawny – £22

More red fruit character, touch of cinnamon and nut, soft sweeter attack, milky coffee and red fruits, touch of warmth in finish, very classic winter warmer.

Kopke 30 year old White (half) – £52

Real dried apricot attack, lovely balance, coffee, nut brittle, layered and really long finish

Kopke 1987 Colheita – £75

Textured, soft and sweet but not aggressively so, cream fudge without the sugar, reddish fruit, touch of spice but overall impression is of elegance.

Kopke 20 year old Tawny – £42

Red cherry and chocolate on nose, interesting celery note too, spice more mocha notes on palate lovely intensity without sticky out warmth. Nice and long. Touch of cloves on palate too

Kopke 1967 – £150

Furniture polish, redcurrant, clotted cream, star anise, sweet but drier than I expected attack, red fruits, creamy toffee, butterscotch but a certain amount of power to it. Decent length.

We haven’t bought any of these yet (but have offered them to the Beckhams) but our favourites were definitely the Colheita’s – Wayne enjoying the elegance of the 1987 whilst Alex appreciated the power of the 1967 – and frankly a bottle that is 50 years old for £150 is very hard to beat in our view!

The rest of the day passed in a blur of VAT returns and hunger pangs – who knew that tasting port in the morning gives you the munchies – and now we reach the weekend and for many of our younger readers (!), half term.

It’s only a week off (or two weeks if you pay the right people) and if your lives are anything similar to mine, a glass of wine or two is the only way to get through.  With this in mind, this evening we will be opening a couple of bottles for tasting:

The white corner will be inhabited by Hubert Lamy Bourgogne ‘Les Chataigners’ 2012 (£26.99). The estate is based in St. Aubin (probably the best of them if we’re honest) and this Cuvée comes vineyards above the village on limestone soils. A real bobby dazzler of a wine, and if there is such a thing as value in Burgundy, this is surely it.

Red wise we’ll be tucking into Chateau Tanesse 2010 (£13.99) a cracking drop of claret from Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux. From a great vintage, this is a winning blend of 49% Merlot 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and a splash each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Time for a roast on Sunday?

We promise to stop doing this soon, but will just sign off with the news that today is the 8th Edition of #globalchampagneday.

Perhaps we can help?

That Was The Week That Was

October 13th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We had a cast around this week, wondering where to start with this  commentary. Friday 13th seemed a rather obvious place to start, a successful horror movie franchise from the 80’s rumoured to be getting a reboot, but right now Hollywood seems a subject best avoided.

We had a brief look at the news and discovered that Trump wants “the Nuclear Arsenal to be in tip top condition”. Only to be immediately trolled by Arsene Wenger stating “Arsenal may sell Ozil and Sanchez in January”.

Then a thought struck me, hadn’t someone on the radio said it was National Curry Week? I’ll have a look into that, surely everyone likes a curry and it can’t be too controversial to talk about. Oh, how wrong can you be… it turns out that one of the nation’s favourite curry styles, Korma, is not the mild creamy dish that we all thought. Korma actually means ‘braising’ or ‘slow-cooking’ and can come mild or spicy! It’s not just National Curry Week though folks, it’s also Chocolate Week. Who organises this, surely it makes more sense and fun to make those two separate weeks?

Wool Week has been running for eight years, so if your curry isn’t hot enough you can put on a sweater. Why not take a walk down to the library because it’s also National Libraries Week, and National Braille Week. I have to say, I think Braille and Libraries make a better partnership than Curry and Chocolate. We then spotted the Arthritis Week and Dyspraxia Awareness Week and decided we were full up, we had 7 weeks in a week, and even the Beatles only managed Eight Days.

Positively marvelling at our impressive, if slightly uncharacteristic, time management skills in fitting so much in our week, we decided to look at today Friday 13th. Apart from being an impressive Horror Movie franchise of 12 films and a computer game, it is also a day that has sparked enough fears of bad luck that it has a personal phobia: Friggatriskaidekaphobia!

Friday 13th October 2017 is also World Egg Day, so you know what to have in your lunchtime sarnie. Randomly it is also National No-Bra Day as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and if you don’t believe us, you probably already know its International Sceptics Day.

Given how crowded just one week in the diary appears to be, we do wonder how effective they are. Did you hear more about Curry or Arthritis this week?

We are dead chuffed to discover the impeccable timing of the 6th National Wine Week, which runs 28th November till 4th December. Although disappointed we didn’t find out earlier, both Park Vintners and Wayne’s birthday fall in that week, so I suspect a bottle or two will be opened!

In other wine news it looks like France had the smallest harvest in 60 years. Those late April frosts really did the damage in Bordeaux, whilst the really hot spells in August wreaked havoc in the Languedoc. Throw in a storm or two in Champagne and you have a 19% drop overall on 2016! Italy will be top dog this year it seems.

Tasting This Weekend

Given the Korma controversy we couldn’t help but choose a white to go with our previous understanding of the creamy curry and taste Reserve de Gassac 2016 (£11.99). It’s blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Marsanne should be just the ticket.

Running the show in the red corner will be Uitkyk Pinotage 2014 (£14.49).  Back after an enforced absence due to it literally missing the boat from South Africa, it’s an elegant style that will be comfortable with a Rogan Josh, and no slouch with that barbecued leg of lamb that might just happen on Sunday!


Wayne gets the blues…

October 6th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It seems to me that there are many things wrong with the world. State police spending their Sunday beating unarmed citizens over a difference of view, another random man with too many guns shooting random innocents at a concert and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar all, rather sadly, spring too easily to mind.

The dishonesty of shrinkflation on bags of Maltesers, Minstrels and now even Jaffa Cakes all by producers who prefer to think we’re too stupid to notice. Walnut Whips without their walnut, how ridiculous.

A wrong that caught my eye this week is wine related.  French born, London based entrepreneur Aymerc Bruneau unveiled the first blue fizz made from French grapes at the Frieze Art Fair.  When I started to read this I thought “ah, maybe it’s some sort of performance art or publicity stunt”.  I read that the colour was inspired by Yves Klein’s trademarked ‘International Klein Blue’.  But then I saw “We created Eden with elegance in mind, artistic spirit in soul and art-de-vivre in essence.”  It is really quite sweet, (38g/l residual sugar) so that you can drink it over ice and it is claimed to taste better than champagne.

It’s blue! How on earth can something with blue dye in it be better? I’m not sure the wine world is any better off with this launch, but it is the first time Frieze Art Fair has been plugged in our missive, so maybe it is performance art… Anyhow a bottle will set you back £45 or a Jeroboam (4 bottles equivalent) £315. Even the maths is dodgy for an overpriced WKD!

Suffice to say we haven’t managed to find any fridge or shelf space for it.

However, we did find some shelf space for a plethora of beauties this week.

First up, and one Wayne is particularly excited about is Kalin Cellars Cuvée CH Chardonnay 1995, Sonoma County, USA (£40). Those of you with good memories may remember we had a bit of the Cuvee W last year and were just a little upset when it ran out.

Kalin Cellars make small parcels of wine from a selection of other people’s vineyards and then release it as and when they think the wine is ready. Robert Parker wrote: “Terry Leighton is one of California’s two most talented winemakers … (Kalin wines) are the wines of a genius. These wines are worth every effort to find in the marketplace” For our five pennyworth, we’d just say they are how Meursault used to be before all the oxy problems started to rear their ugly heads in the late ‘90’s.  This is from Charles Heinz Vineyards in Sonoma County and is absolutely stunning, rounded and dry, nutty, oatmealy and honeyed, really long in the finish, and still fresh as a daisy. A bargain!

The nagging worked, and we can tell you that the Thiénot Brut NV (£32.99) is back by popular demand. Still as delicious, still not as famous as it should be, and still the Champagne that kicked Möet out of the 2013 Oscars party!

We’ve also listed our first XO Cognac (although it didn’t turn upon the delivery today – Monday they promise me!). Alex, with his love of hip hop and Grime music, was very keen to go down the Hennessey route, but when Wayne pointed out that there is much less Grime in Wimbledon Park than when we worked in Clapham, his voice was heard above the din.

Delamain Pale & Dry XO (£95) Established in 1759 Delamain is one of the last family-owned Cognac houses. They specialise in aged cognacs and this XO is a blend of 25 years old Grande Champagne cognacs, each one was aged separately before blending and ageing for another two years. Complex and powerful with floral and vanilla aromas. Mellow and subtle on the palate with concentrated fruits and hints of liquorice and vanilla.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll kick off the red corner with a wine we think ideal with windy evenings and falling leaves, Antonio Camillo Morellino Di Scansano 2016 (£14.99), is a cracking red from near the coast in Tuscany.

In the white corner we’re heading to Austria. Turk Grüner Veltliner Kremser Weinberge 2015 (£17.99). Weingut Türk dates back to the beginning of the 18th century and consists of fifteen hectares of vines in Kremstal at the heart of Austrian winemaking. Franz says that his aim is to capture the positive energy of the sun in fluid form. We’re not sure if he’s managed that, but this is typical, peppery Grüner Veltliner. A spicy nose, crisp and refreshing, a Grüner Veltliner that offers drinking pleasure and finesse.

Thanks to Tom Petty for sound-tracking us whilst we learnt to fly.

Wayne & Alex

Cheese, Wine, Sherry, Gin…

September 29th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

He’s back.  He’s reinvigorated.  He’s 90% fish and 10% Sherry.  He’s tanned.  He’s irritatingly relaxed.  He’s ready for Christmas even though he’s still wearing shorts whilst sweeping up crispy autumnal leaf fall.  He is, frankly, quite exhausting.

And he’s instituted some new shop rules – a couple of weeks of good, healthy living and relaxation has turned him proper bossy:

  • No sausage rolls – not good for us apparently, not even as part of a packed luncheon
  • No fighting outside Bristol nightclubs – no good for us but in a different way
  • No scrummaging or tackling – too dangerous and thus ends shop rugby as we know it
  • No testing nuclear weapons – put’s everyone on edge and fighter planes in the sky
  • No more dealings with Boeing
  • No more Hugh Hefner – not altogether sure what he means by that
  • No more trips on Ryanair – not enough flights and not enough consequential compensation
  • No more tweeting about taking a knee during the national anthem
  • No more ‘aid’ packages from Russia
  • No more discussion of October abstaining
  • No more heroes
  • No more Shakespearoes


At which point I stopped listening as he now seemed to be busying himself with Spotify….

But it’s good to have him back, really.  When Wayne finishes his summer holidays it means it is eyes down and full steam ahead towards Christmas, hold onto your hats.  We’ve started to order some of the Christmas wines, ready for delivery next month I suspect and we’ve been taking a leisurely look at our spirits – Rhubarb Gin?  Tequila?  Any interest out there, or is it just us?

Oh, and ‘normal’ Gin too.

Bizarre as it may seem, given the current juniper haze that has us all engulfed, we are struggling to find a Gin to replace Dodd’s.  It doesn’t have to be the same as Dodd’s, it just needs to be different from our current offering of Hepple, Little Bird, Dutch Courage and Monkey 47.  Local would be good, top quality and flavoursome is an absolute must, as is interesting.  Any thoughts?  We’ve had a number of suggestions from all sorts of far-flung places but have now taken the view that if people are consistently asking for one particular brand, then that’s the one we should look at more closely.

So if anyone has any suggestions, drop us a line and we’ll have a butchers!

Otherwise, not a huge amount to report on the home front his week.  Wayne’s return means that our instore tastings start up once more and Wine School kicks off a new term next week with a full classroom of eager oenophiles, followed swiftly by our first autumn Wine & Cheese Tasting on the evening of Thursday 5th October at 8pm.

Whilst Wine School is fully booked, we do still have 4 seats available for the Thursday evening tasting of all things good in the cheese and wine world.  If you fancy it, drops us a line or drop in – it’s £20 per person, bookable in advance, and is always a very fulfilling and satisfying evening!

If you can’t wait for next week to have your tastebuds tantalised, we will, as is our weekend wont, be opening a red and a white this evening and all through tomorrow.

White wine will be represented by an old favourite of ours – De Wetshof Estate ‘Lesca’ Chardonnay 2016, – £14.99.  From Robertson in South Africa, and named after Danie de Wet’s wife, this is a lightly wooded Chardonnay, exuding lively aromas of citrus, green apple and butterscotch on the nose.  With the elegance and intensity of great white Burgundy, it has a complex, racy palate of lemon, peach and ripe apple flavours with nutty and mineral notes.  Pork stuffed with prunes was the winery recommendation and we won’t argue with that.

The red representative, maintaining our theme of Burgundy grapes being used elsewhere, is going to be Southern Dawn Pinot Noir 2013 – £14.49, from Marlborough, New Zealand.  I could give you all the guff about the soil in the vineyards, the angle of the slope the vines are planted on, and the winemakers collection of 19th century corkscrews, but none of that is really relevant.  We sell this wine because we think it tastes brilliant: light with red cherry fruit character and a fresh finish.  I’ve no idea if he has a corkscrew collection but am certain he doesn’t use it for this!

No more from us this week – those are the new rules!

Wayne & Alex

Is that another week over with? Thank goodness for that…. I think I need a drink!

September 22nd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Is that another week over with?  Thank goodness for that…. I think I need a drink!

Some weeks are easier than others and, consequentially, some of these Friday missives are easier to write than others.  This week is a harder week, the news hasn’t really been playing with a straight bat and there is little humour to be derived from much of what we read each day.

Locally, the events in Parsons Green dominate the news and South West London has been rudely awakened to the reality that whilst we live in what seems to be a lovely, leafy, utopian suburbia, we are also still part of the greater London metropolis and can be subjected to the same terrors.  Thank goodness it wasn’t worse.

Internationally, the Donald got more time in the spotlight as he promised to destroy North Korea and put the squeeze on Iran – I’m not sure if he is planning on doing this unilaterally or with a UN jacket on.  Either way, he emphasised that it’s all in the name of making the world a safer and more peaceful place, which makes one re-examine that bit a little earlier in his speech when he stated ‘it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defence. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been’.  How safe does that make me feel?  Not sure, especially since Kim now sees his nuclear endeavours as the only sensible avenue when faced with a ‘deranged’ POTUS.  I hate it when the pot and the kettle argue….

The one joy was hearing the Melania, without any hints of irony, highlighting the dangers of cyberbullying and the important role we all have in curtailing it in a speech at a luncheon on Wednesday.  I can only assume she doesn’t follow her husband on twitter.

And then Theresa got up to have her say in New York on Wednesday but unfortunately she failed to attract the packed house that Donny T drew, as more than half the delegates had absented themselves from the room and some of the remainers, as it were, were busy talking amongst themselves.  Perhaps a good trial run for her speech in Florence today, gets her warmed up to the idea of not being listened to!

In sport, at a time when we should absolutely be celebrating the continued footballing ascendance of the England Lionesses, after their 6-0 drubbing of Russia on Tuesday, we are in fact staring gobsmacked at the ineptitude of the FA.  This football team has been getting better and better and has been a beacon of hope in a fairly poor English sport landscape.

But it was not to be unsullied.  Mark Sampson, their manager, has been sacked, almost 4 years after his appointment, for reasons that should have stopped him being hired in the first place.  But then he was investigated by the FA’s safeguarding unit and cleared in terms of his suitability to continue in football, in early 2015.  And Martin Glenn, FA chief exec,  says that now, ‘ (on) reading that report, I felt that what I saw was incompatible with the standards that we’d expect for someone to work at the FA.’  But later in the interview he states ‘Mark Sampson is absolutely clear to work as a coach in football.’


Either he’s a rotten apple and should be removed from the game completely or a good egg who has a clean bill of health?  Is he a bully, a racist or a risk to his players’ safety?  We really cannot tell from all the confusingly muddled messages emanating from the people who are meant to be in charge but one thing is for sure, it stinks.

When I started writing this today, I was hoping to come up with a selection of observations that might all snugly fit under the working title: 7 Reasons Why We Call It Fizz Friday. 

I’m not sure if I have succeeded but let’s all raise glasses this evening to life, to Parsons Green, to Mexico, to the North Korean workers, to Marc Bolan and Jimi Hendrix (died this week in 1978 and 1970, respectively) and, to lighten the mood, to Prince Charles, who confessed this week in 1983, that he talks to his plants!

To help with this I have decided to eschew white wine this week on our tasting and jump straight in with some fizz.

For years we sold Morton Brut NV from New Zealand and you all loved it.  It then went through a re-brand and now calls itself Leveret IQ Premium Brut NV.  A champagne in all but name really, being a blend of the usual suspects, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay it’s crisp and dry with a fine mousse, it’s exactly the sort of bubbly for Friday Night fizz after a hard week.  It’s £14.99 and is a bottled celebration of human intelligence!

Theresa is in Tuscany so I thought it a wonderful excuse to open something very Tuscan – Sesti Monteleccio 2104 – £19.99.  In 1975, when Giuseppe Sesti came to Argiano, Brunello was distinguished but also dying out.  Only 25 producers remained in the area and many assumed Brunello would become a historical footnote.  He set about restoring the ancient vineyards of Argiano.  Monteleccio is Giuseppe’s baby Brunello, distinctively Sangiovese Grosso, the only grape of Brunello, with its classic aromas of dried cherries, cedar, truffles and tobacco.  The palate is concentrated but also soft and open with notes of mocha and chocolate lingering long into the finish.  As a footnote, Giuseppe did not initially choose a career in wine.  Instead, his Venetian upbringing inspired him to study music, art, and astronomy, the last of which became his profession which makes him the perfect person to keep an eye on the actions of Rocket Man and the Dotard!

That’s it from us for now – in all the hiatus I never got a chance to view the rugby last weekend – anyone got any idea how the All Blacks got on against the Springboks!!

I’ll love you and leave you now…

Keep your shoulders back and your heads held high!

September 15th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s that time of year when the Big Dog stubs out his stogie, stretches his legs, buries all his bones in the back garden and takes a well-earned holiday in the sun.  This year he is chasing cats and squirrels around Cádiz, Jerez and Sevilla, hopefully whilst refreshing himself regularly with mucho Tinto de Verano, Rabo de Toro and perhaps PX.

Which means, as a consequence, it’s the time of year that I get to arrive at work on time (as opposed to the standard 3 minutes past the hour); I get to stand behind the computer looking important and business-like, writing important sounding emails to impressive sounding people; I get to gaze into the middle distance, arms folded, with the expression of a man busy working out a complex problem; I also get to sit in the big leather swivel chair and, if there’s no one around, turn myself into some sort of human fidget spinner, careening around until giddiness becomes nausea.  And that’s just Monday morning covered; I’ve got two weeks of this.  Freedom, sweet, sweet freedom!

Plus I get to answer the phone.  This is actually nowhere near as exciting as he makes it seem when he is here:

Ring, ring, ring

  • Hello, Park Vintners, Alex speaking
  • Hello, can I speak to the owner of the business?
  • I am the owner, how can I help?
  • Hello Sir, are you the owner of the business?
  • I just told you I was
  • I am calling from the National Company of Power and I would like to reduce your electricity and gas bill today, who is your current supplier?
  • There’s no such thing as the National Company of Power, I think you’re fibbing…

And so the conversation goes on and on – I’ve watched Wayne, over the years, fielding these daily cold calls with the finesse of Jonty Rhodes and admired the length of time he can keep them hanging on the telephone.  Yesterday I broke his record – 8 minutes and 47 seconds – plus there was no swearing from either side and we parted on civil terms – I think the poor lady at the other end hadn’t realised she was the first person I’d spoken to for 4 hours and that I wasn’t going to let her go without a fight!

What else has happened?  Well, apart from sidling off into town yesterday morning to 67 Pall Mall to taste Armand de Brignac Champagne (google it, it’s bonkers) I’ve been chained to the shop.  I’ve bought some wine, I’ve sold some too, which is good for business;  I’ve taken my first Christmas order and I inadvertently listened to 3 hours of experimental jazz on Spotify on Wednesday which almost sent me loopy – elevator muzak on steroids –  God, how I miss the cricket and La Vuelta….

And now it’s Friday – the weekend is beckoning to us to hurry up and the gym can train itself tonight, we’re all having a glass of wine.  If it’s any help at all I’m planning on opening a couple of bottles here if you fancy coming and having a quick tasting snifter on your way home tonight, or anytime tomorrow (I’m here from 10.03am)

In homage to the guvnor’s trip to Spain I thought I might open some Iberian treats but from the opposite end of the country.

Dressed in white satin we have Quinta de la Erre Albariño 2016 – £15.99 which is a small, 10 hectare estate in the O Rosal area of Rias Baixas, coastal Galicia, an area widely regarded as a stand out region quality wise.  A cracking wine with a touch of orange blossom and nectarine fruit in the nose, nectarine fruit on the palate joined by spice, minerality and a lively dash of citrus. Hangs around in the mouth flavour wise, and is great as a partner to shellfish, or even on its own as an aperitif.

Sporting the red flares we have Alodio 2015 – £12.99 hailing from Ribeira Sacra which is just a little inland from the Albariño’s home turf.  A delicious, medium-bodied red, made predominantly from Mencia a grape variety that perennially reminds us of the great Cabernet Francs you find in the Loire Valley of France.  Blackberry fruit leaps out on the nose with some lovely tea caddy leaf notes.  Zesty on the palate with those dark fruits once more, a bit of spice to the fine tannins and crunchy dark fruit into the finish.  This is a lovely quaffer, ‘a real second glasser’ as the boss would say!

Finally a few notes of admin and dates for your diary.

Wine School starts in two weeks’ time – Wednesday 4th October.  We’ve told you loads about this already so won’t labour the point; suffice to say it’s filling up so if you’re planning on joining in, I’d suggest signing up sooner rather than later. £150 per person, bring a pal or two!

Wine & Cheese tasting – Thursday 5th October – still a couple of spaces left, £20 per person, just space for one pal!

Wimbledon Tennis Ballot – for those of you who like the strawberries and the Pimm’s in the rain and always seem to miss out on tickets, the ballot for next year’s tennis opened last week:

Here ends this public service announcement.

That’s all from me.  Rough day for South West London today, keep your shoulders back and your heads held high!

Wine School, Pais and Riesling

September 8th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Disarray, that’s the only word for it.

Cycling magazines everywhere, amongst the betting slips and stacks of newly listed expensive wines.  I thought I left you guys in charge?  However, it seems August scathed Wayne marginally less than last year and, as each day passes, he is talking less to the spider (Leslie, apparently) upturned in the corner of the window, and has managed to cease addressing the deer on top of the beer fridge as ‘Master’.

We’ll get there.

Otherwise, it seems that his lordship has been keeping you pretty well informed about the world and its varying idiosyncrasies, with the occasional bit of wine punditry – a nice balance.

They say that going on holiday is the opportunity to take some time far away from your usual daily toil and to unwind all those tightly-bound stress knots that have surreptitiously built up in your belly over the previous 12 months.  And they’re right.  Even with a brace of children in tow, after two and a half weeks away, donnez moi has given way to laissez faire, and ‘are we nearly there?’ loses its potency after the first 1,000km of driving.

Special mention goes to my daughter who was fairly certain (as she is about most things) that she could see the sea – we were about 100km south of Madrid.

Doesn’t take long to get back into the flow of things and before you know it Angry Alex from Arthur Road is back in the chair.  What has particularly galled me today is the joint report by the Royal Society for Public Health and the weight loss organisation, Slimming World.  Obviously, I first came across this report whilst skimming through the BMJ over my muesli but I believe it may also been covered in things called The Sun, The Guardian and the BBC – whatever they may be.  Anyway, I’m sure you’ve read the article but, if not, the nub of it is that we are all eating more than we should, only this time it’s not our fault, it’s the fault of those naughty old retailers – fast food outlets, cafes, supermarkets and pubs, to name and shame just a few.

Allegedly, it’s all to do with the evil sales tool ‘the upsell’, previously only known to those on the inside, and we are powerless, yes powerless, to resist.  Picture the scene – you’ve have walked through the golden arches of health and longevity and approached the counter.  Whilst ordering your ‘healthy’ snack the kind person behind the counter, let’s call them an assistant, since that is their role, enquires as to whether you might like a side order, a drink or perhaps make it a bit bigger for 50p more – customer service, if you will.  It is at this point, apparently, that we all become transfixed by such an offering and buy the lot.  And an apple pie!

I’m not going to labour the point but, having spent all of my working life behind bars (!) or counters, I might have come across this shady ‘upsell’ practice once or twice.  It can be seen as a positive force to show a customer something they might enjoy (if you like claret then you might enjoy this chianti) or it could be through necessity (sorry, it’s 4.30pm on Christmas Eve – Bollinger is the only champagne we have left…) but if the ‘upsell’ was so darned potent and pernicious then trust me, you’d all be walking out of here with a case of Cristal under your arm, every time!!

Point made – caveat emptor, no one ‘makes’ you buy anything and when one does go into a fast food chain, well, the responsibility is on you really, isn’t it?

Sorry about all that, think I might need another holiday….

Moving swiftly on, and back onto safer shores perhaps, all the schools have now gone back I believe, certainly there are plenty of smart new blazers and clean shoes wandering around each afternoon which won’t look the same come half term.

So, they’ve all gone back to school, how about you?

As we’ve mentioned before I’m sure, our Six Week Wine School kicks off its new term on Wednesday 4th October at 8pm, here in the shop.  It costs £150 per person and is currently half full.  We have noticed in the last couple of days an increased interest, and indeed sign-up, almost as if a momentum is building.  If you want to be part of this momentum and learn more about what’s in your glass 60 different times in October and November then contact us straight away and in return for payment we’ll reserve your place at the table.

Wine School

6 week course on Wednesday evenings

Wednesday 4th October until Wednesday 15th November (half term Wednesday 25th October). 

£150 all in!

Elsewhere a footballer, famous for getting drunk and acting inappropriately, has got drunk and acted as expected.  Test cricket is running the risk of making ODI’s look a little bit laboured; Chris Froome keeps labouring up hills that most of us would struggle to walk up, and the US Open has an all American ladies semi-final round which, considering the paucity of quality in US ladies tennis of late beyond Venus and Serena, is a bit of a turn up.

And lastly, it’s the Denbies Half Marathon on Sunday – a beautiful run through the Surrey Hills with a wine tasting every two miles – who needs a medal – good luck to anyone foolhardy enough to be getting involved!

With wine tasting in mind how about a drop this weekend?  Having fully diluted my stresses whilst on holiday it seems they are slowly building up again, so what shall we try?

Tackling the white wine side of things will be Novas Gran Reserva Riesling 2016, Bio-Bio Valley, Chile (£11.19).   A new one in the shop this very week, made by the clever folk at Emiliana, and, just like its predecessor, is organic. The wine is crisp, dry, with lime fruits, a bit of minerality and has a lovely zesty finish.

Red wine will roll in from Itata in Chile courtesy of A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2015 (£15.99). Over the years we have tried our fair share of wines from the grape variety País. Most of them, to be fair, have been a bit rustic, chewy and big but, somehow, just didn’t do it for either of us. You can imagine the eyes rolling when our chum Phil brought this in. We had to swallow our words, this is not like any of the others. Really lifted fruit on the nose, fresh and juicy, almost spritzy even in the mouth with really fine tannins. A proper vin de soif that’d be perfect with some slow cooked pork. Come along and taste it, tell us what food you’d have it with.

Oh, and whilst you here, would you like a case of Cristal with that?


Sunny September Sidles In!

September 1st, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So that’s that then, transfer window slams shut and somehow more money than ever before has been spent on names most of us didn’t know until 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon.  Looks to me like Swansea have done some good business… buy Wilfried Bony for about £12 million, get 35 goals out of him, sell him to Manchester City for £25 million, buy him back for £12 million after they don’t give him any games!  The Premier League really does bring Fantasy Football to life!

Bake Off is back, all be it on a different channel. As a quick guide for future episodes, Noel Fielding is the tall one with long hair who isn’t Sue, Sandy Toksvig is the short funny one who isn’t Mel, Prue Leith is the glamorously dressed one who isn’t Mary, and Paul Hollywood is the one from the old show who eats all the cakes.

Strange unexplained clouds seem to be a bit of a thing lately. There were a lot around on Wednesday, not only did our gardens here in Wimbledon Park get a good dousing, but so did the cyclists riding La Vuelta a España whilst in the mountains just north of Almería.

Meanwhile, the good folk of Birling Gap had to be evacuated from the beach due to an unexplained cloud too. Concerned, we called in the Doctor for a chat. Whilst unable to explain the exact nature of these unexplained mists, he did point out that all his emails are in the cloud and questioned their security!

Meanwhile, in south-west Sicily, scientists from the University of South Florida have discovered some storage jars in a cave on Monte Kronio. The exciting find put wine making in Italy as far back as 6000 years ago, about 3000 years earlier than originally thought. Until now it was thought that winemaking in Italy arrived with the colonisation by the Greeks in around 800 BC.

In Paris, thieves have tunnelled from the Catacombs into a private cellar and stolen around 300 bottles of wine valued at around €250,000. Police sources say “They didn’t tunnel by accident”. It’s unclear if any of the wine was Sicilian!

Back to School

Time to pick up the kids from Grandma’s house; they need to go to school next week. A more adult concern, Wine School starts here on Wednesday 4th October at 8pm.

Cost is £150 per person and there is no cross country running. Is your name on the register?

Back on the Shelf

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon (Barrel 594) is back in stock now and is still priced at £50.99.

We also managed to lay our hands on a few extra bottles of Japanese whisky too. Ask us for details.

Tasting This Weekend

On the white front we’ll have a guzzle of Fleur Solitaire Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2016 (£10.99) a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Viognier, 7.5% Roussanne, 7.5% Marsanne, 7.5% Clairette and 7.5% Bourboulenc, this is a fairly rich peachy style of wine, with a lot going on but never sacrificing its crispness.

The red corner will involve a wine from Toro in Spain. The Gran Colegiata Lagrima Tinto Roble 2014 (£12.99) is a very tasty drop made by the Fariña family that just happens to laze around in barrels for four months, having been made from only free-run Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo).

Lastly, Wayne thinks the new Queens of the Stone Age album ‘Villains’ is worth a listen, if you’re of a mind – Rock on!

Precious Things

August 25th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well I’m back, did you miss me? I’ve been on a road trip with my family and have learnt (and in some cases re-learnt) several things over the last fortnight. My kids concept of time is completely dependent on their environment. It would appear that time spent in a swimming pool zips by quicker than a trip in the Tardis, whilst time spent in the car seems to move more slowly with every minute being an hour like endurance. On the other hand the Alhambra really is beautiful, houses really do hang from the cliffs in Cuenca and oysters are as magnificent with Muscadet as they ever were.

Enough about me, how are you? Has Wayne been looking after you? He certainly doesn’t seem to have done much round here, just handed me the keys this morning muttering something about going for a beer with his father-in-law.

I see the football season has started in my absence, Huddersfield certainly seem to be enjoying themselves!

Vuelta a Espana is on, I didn’t see any yet, but I’m sure Wayne will have kept you up to date. It ends up in Cuenca today so I’ll relive a small part of my holiday!

Tomorrow sees the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup with England facing New Zealand in Belfast. Come on the Red Roses!

I’ve had a quick scan of the news this morning and the most interesting item I saw was that Mike D of the Beastie Boys has taken a job as a sommelier, helping to choose the list for a new Hollywood restaurant Hearth and Hound. Fight for your Right (to Chablis)!

In Germany, a supermarket in Hamburg took all the foreign products off the shelves in a bid to make a point about diversity. We thought it a brave move for a company to make, but a fine point well made that life would be poorer without Italian lemons, Spanish olive oil, and French wine…

Wine Course

Still some places left. Term starts Wednesday 4th October here at 8pm. £150 buys your seat at the table where you’ll taste around 60 wines, discuss their differences, and a whole lot more besides.

Precious Things

We still have a bit of Chocolate Block 2015 (£23.99 each or 6 for £120). It’s the first vintage where all of the fruit is from Swartland. A blend of 71% Syrah, 15% Grenache Noir, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cinsault and 1% Viognier giving us the rich and polished wine we’ve come to expect from Boekenhoutskloof. Don’t be shy, it won’t be around for ever.

Bank Holiday Monday – As usual we will be closed for the Bank Holiday.

Tasting This Weekend

Well I’ve been very keen to retaste the Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Pinot Noir 2014 (£21.49) that we bought recently. It’s from Nelson and we were really impressed the first time we tasted it in May.

So while I’m at it why don’t we go for the full Nelson and try their Chardonnay too. In which case, the white corner will be from the Upper Moutere in the shape of Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Chardonnay 2014 (£20.99).

If you’re planning grouse one of these should be perfect.


Wine in School, Tastings, and the Big Brother House

August 18th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Isn’t that sunshine glinting off your phone annoying? Doesn’t the sun know you’re trying to read something?  If only it would pop behind that puffy white cloud for just a minute.

This week I have had my annual communication with your colleagues, and am now armed with a lengthy database of people who are in the escalation business.  Some of you have returned from your travels, I have heard tales of the nightlife in Avignon, the beauty of Ljubljana, and the romance of a shipwreck bar in Cyprus.

I have also had communication from abroad. Alex wrote, wondering if his hat might be more useful on his head than in the window. I have heard nothing since sending the photo demonstrating how fine a job it was doing in the window.

One of our international correspondents checked in with tales of gales and monsoon rainfall in Adelaide, I found myself wondering of the similarities between Adelaide and Wimbledon Park last week.

Otherwise, I have had a number of lengthy conversations with the alarmingly large number of people who seemed concerned that my gas and electricity supplier may be overcharging. Despite assurances otherwise, they like to call everyday just to check I’m happy.

In a surprising turn of events, President Trump has been in the news this week. The man that takes no holiday, has returned from his golfing holiday sacked his business advisory councils, and wiped $5bn off the value of Amazon with one tweet. If only you could do something constructive with a tweet!

So how did the opening weekend of the Premiership fair for you? The large number of goals scored gave me comfort that Arsenal might not be the only team with a lacy defence. Elsewhere in football, Astana proved they should stick with cycling losing 5-0 at Celtic in the Champions League playoffs.

This weekend the proper sport kicks off again with the start of the Vuelta a España. Saturdays start sees a team time trial in Nîmes (I know, I thought it was in France too!). Will Chris Froome win this race as well? If he does, he’ll be the first person in 39 years to do the Tour de France/Vuelta a España double. Alberto Contador is retiring after the race so look out for a stage win from him, and also both of the Yates brothers are racing with Orica Scott putting out a very strong Grand Classification team. Pull up a chair!

In wine news this week we learned that Sarah Harding has been hiding bottles around the Big Brother house, and that researchers at the University of Graz have discovered a glass of wine helps with writers block. This is obviously something that would come as no surprise to either Dylan Thomas or Ernest Hemingway!

Congratulations to all the students receiving their A-level results this week. I know many of them shouldn’t be reading this, but please Mum & Dad, do convey our congratulations. We may have been using quill and parchment when we received our exam results but it still seems like yesterday.

Wine School

Still some places left. If you’d like to taste around 60 wines, learn about wine and have some spare evenings on a Wednesday do come and see us. Cost is £150.00


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
04/10/17 11/10/17 18/10/17 01/11/17 08/11/17 15/11/17


Cheese and Wine Tastings

There are still a few places left on each of these dates. £20 per person saves your place!

Thursday 5th October at 8pm

Thursday 2nd November at 8pm

Thursday 30th November at 8pm


Tasting this Weekend

We thought we’d start the weekend off with a drop of Monte del Frá Soave Classico 2015 (£13.99). One of those wines you may have drunk on holiday as it is from that beautiful part of Italy near Verona and the lakes. This one is made from 100% Garganega (rules state minimum 70%) grown at 150m on volcanic soils. Aromatic, with blossom notes and a crisp dry slight nuttiness that is really versatile food wise.

Staying with the food versatility theme, the red jumper will be sported by Percheron Old Vine Cinsault 2016 (£8.39). Don’t let it’s small price tag lead you astray, this is cracking glass of wine from gnarly 60 odd year old bush vines in the Western Cape. It is medium-bodied with soft tannins, savoury fruit character and spice to finish. An elegant wine that’ll go with almost anything food wise.