Archive for the ‘general’ Category

What can I suggest for those of you wanting something vinous, that is nebulously Hibernian?

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

For us it’s all about Ireland this week – Cheltenham, St Patrick’s Day, and the Ireland v England rugby on Saturday.

But our Irish week actually started last Saturday, when one of our customers popped in with a ‘strange request’.  We get a lot of strange requests, I think it’s something to do with being open in the evening once the hairdressers are shut, but most requests are nowhere near as strange as the quester believes, so eyelids, usually, remain unbatted.

This was different.  Jennifer, whose name I may or may not have changed to protect her anonymity, informed me that she was going to be celebrating St Patrick’s day with some pals this week and thus, what Irish Wines did I have?  Irish Wine?  Not so sure Ireland’s the place I’d go looking for wine.  In fact, we’ve just recently had it confirmed by our Irish representatives in the Northern reaches of London that, after a tasting at the Irish Embassy, we’re not missing much or indeed anything at all.

So I said to Jennifer, because that’s definitely not her name, that I had a fabulous bottle of Jack Ryan Beggars Bush 12 Year Old Single Malt Whiskey for £51.99 but if she wanted wine, I couldn’t help.  I think she had suspected this might be the case so she said that she was happy to take something else vinous, providing it had a loose connection to the Emerald Isle – and that she would pop back in a few days to see if I had had any thoughts.

I like a challenge, particularly one involving slightly tenuous wordplay, so I set about my task with gusto.

Difficult.

I can report that there are not enough wines out there (or at least in here) that fit within any of these criteria:

  • Made by someone called Patrick
  • With Celtic crosses on their labels
  • Or Harps or Shamrocks
  • With Emerald mentioned in their title
  • Or Serpents
  • Or March 17th
  • Or a Leprechaun, God be thanked
  • Associated to U2, Boyzone or B*Witched, again, God be thanked

So what can I suggest for those of you wanting something vinous that is nebulously Hibernian?

Any wine from Galicia – there is plenty of evidence or myth, depending on your viewpoint, that there is a shared genealogy between Ireland and Galicia – I won’t get into a debate here but suffice to say there are Celtic crosses galore in Northwest Spain.

If you cross the border into Portugal, you’ll encounter the zesty, clean wines of Minho –  Vinho Verde to be exact, which  I suspect we can all Google translate as ‘green wine’.

There’ll be others I’m sure but a here’s a selection of what I have on the shelf:

Leira Seca 2016 – £11.49 – Vinh O’Verde, Minho

Val do Xuliana Albariño 2015 – £12.49 – Rías Baixas, Galicia

Bioca Godello 2016 – £13.49 – Valdeorras, Galicia

Sameirás Blanco 2015 – £16.49 – Ribeiro, Galicia

Alodio 2015 – £12.99 – Ribeira Sacra, Galicia

Casal de Paula 2015 – £14.79 – Ribeira, Galicia

And here is the even more tenuous selection, which arguably we had more fun with:

Pouilly Fume ‘La Charnoie’ 2014 – £18.99 – made by a gent named Patrick

Puligny-Montrachet 2014 – £35.99 – made by a gent named Patrick but a different one

Powers Merlot 2012 – £13.29 – from Washington State in the USA but surely there’s a certain Irish Whiskey by this name…

Emili O’Moro 2014 – £17.99 – from Ribera del Duero, really called Emilio Moro but it’s the first wine I have sold this week with an ‘Irish’ connection

Riecine 2011 – £48 – because it’s made by Sean O’Callaghan.  And it’s delicious.  Even if he is actually an Englishman…

Hopefully that helps a little or a lot, depending on your requirements.  For those of you ambivalent towards these events, perhaps I can entice you to pop in for a taste anyway?

We’re going to open two wines from Galicia, mentioned above:

Bioca Godello – £13.49 – Godello is the grape here, grown at high altitude which helps give it real purity of flavour.  Lifted orange character on the nose and a vibrant, crisp, citrus focused palate with some background smatterings of minerals.  A very decent length finish and unerringly more-ish – if you want more though, you’ll have to buy a bottle!

Casal de Paula – £14.79 – A pimentón spiciness on the nose with some savoury red and black fruits in there too leading onto a delicious palate of sour cherries and tart red fruits.  Fine tannins with great freshness, typical of the region, and a real delicious drop.

So I think that’s about it from us – last day of Cheltenham today with Ireland leading 14 – 7, having had six winners yesterday but I think we’ll let them have the bragging rights providing we do the reversal on them in Dublin at the Aviva tomorrow!

As someone notably said back in 1996:  Good things come to those who wait! (anyone remember who?)

Sláinte!

All about eto…

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This time last year we wrote that stage 3 of the “Race to the Sun” (Paris-Nice) had been cancelled due to snow; this year we’ve had no white outs and Julian Alaphilippe is currently in the yellow jumper after five stages.

A gentleman, much wiser than me I’m sure, once described football as “a game of two halves”. I’m not sure we will witness a better manifestation of that than what we saw in the Champions League this week.

In case you missed it Arsenal demonstrated that a 5-1 drubbing is awful away, it’s even worse when repeated at home. Barcelona were busy rejecting the Arsenal game plan entirely, with a fight back against Paris St. Germain that will be talked about for years.

Some clever video chappy, I’m sure, will be able to splice the two halves together to make a motivational video.

We’ve not managed to get any comment on stories that Arsene Wenger has joined the Government’s Brexit team.

With Six Nations action as well this weekend, control of the remote is going to be key.

We’ve had a Budget putting booze up again but the biggest surprise was Spreadsheet Phil cracking jokes!

In other news, Resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, was found to slow the aging process in mice. Before we all get carried away, you would have to drink around 2000 litres of red wine to get enough to replicate the enriched diet the mice had. That is something we would counsel against even if we can be Dorian Gray!

Cheese & Wine for Thursday 30th March has two places left at £20 per head – We start at 8pm, are you coming?

New Stuff
You may have noticed we’ve been opening the shop a little late on, or possibly greeted you with a rather purpled smile. That’s because it’s been prime tasting season and we’ve been out hunting and gathering.

Keep an eye on the shelves, some new wines are showing up already, some more to come too. There’s an awesome new Chardonnay from South Africa, a few Sicilians, and we’ve even listed our first alcohol free bubbly!

Tasting with Tom
Those of you with long memories will recall that Tom Cotton is the designer behind eto.

Eto is of course the innovative wine decanter that allows you to decant, serve, and preserve your wine’s full flavour we were telling you about last week.

Tom is all fired up and ready demonstrate in the blind taste test comparing freshly opened wine with its eto 7 day preserved equivalent. This will take place this evening in the shop from around 5.30pm. We’d love for you all to come down and taste the difference.

As we mentioned last week, Tom is local, a dad at Wimbledon Park Primary School, and is a proud Welshman – “eto” is Welsh for “again” as the decanter allows you to enjoy your wine again and again… and we’re very excited to get the chance to be involved in the taste test. So come on down, have a chat with Tom, taste some wine and you’ll be home in time for the Wales Ireland game at 8.05. Who knows it may even kick-start the Wales Six Nations campaign!

www.etowine.com is the website or follow their news on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

So eto has the red accounted for, I’m not giving away any secrets when I tell you we’ll be tasting The Long Barn Pinot Noir (£12.99), from California.
The white corner, meanwhile, will be hosting Luis Pato Maria Gomes (£11.99) which rather splendidly says on the back label to drink as a welcome drink. I can’t help but think that on Friday night a glass of wine is always a welcome drink, so this seems perfect!

See you all at 5.30pm then….

Spring Sprung, eto, Rueda

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Hooray, hooray, Spring is in on its way!  According to our correspondent at Metro (the paper of choice if travelling between Earlsfield and Waterloo for a tasting), Wednesday was the first day of the meteorological spring this year, while March 20 is the first day of the astronomical spring.

What does that mean really?  It means lighter mornings, lighter evenings, lighter moods and, I suspect, light rain in places.  It means daffodils and leaves on the trees and lamb in the fields and the oven.  It means Wayne going on holiday, impromptu 20 degree days and Rosé back in the fridge, with a vengeance.  Oh, and it means the last Spring Budget is in the offing – next Wednesday, 8th March – a time when we all wait with crossed fingers and unrealistic dreams of cheaper fuel and, ideally, wine.  This won’t happen of course so we need to remember that Spring is on its way we have lighter mornings and warmer evenings….

Fearful of currency fluctuation, poor vintages and duty increases, we have been spending an awful lot of our time of late staring through the bottom of wine glasses.  Plus ça change, you might say, but actually this has been in the name of finding new wines.  Often we get asked if we get to travel to exotic climes to try wines and we can now confirm that we do – we’ve been to Victoria Street, Southwark Bridge and the Pimlico borders, and that’s just this week, last week we were more Soho focused… Anyway the good news is we have, we think, found some new gems and some replacements for delisted wines and are hoping the Chablis crisis might be resolved but, with a 60% drop in yields in some cases, this doesn’t look too hopeful.

So, if wine is to become a more valuable asset whether we like it or not, then we need to make sure we don’t waste any – Did you know that every year in the UK alone, almost 50 million litres of wine are poured down the plughole – a massive £470 million down the drain!

That fact came from Tom Cotton  a Product Designer with nearly 20 years experience of bringing designs from concept to market, for global companies including Bacardi, InBev, Diageo and P&G, to name but a few.

But now he is the man behind eto – and here are his words and musings:

So what’s the Problem?

You know how it is; you crack open that one last bottle with friends at the weekend and then the rest ends up on your kitchen counter for 3 days, exposed to oxygen, and your vino can taste more like vinegar.  Sure, there are wine preservation devices out there but they’re either ineffective as the wine is still in contact with some air, or expensive, and you’re tied into pricey refills.  I thought there had to be a better way, and so came up with ‘eto’ – an innovative wine decanter that allows you to decant, serve, and preserve your wine’s full flavour.

How does eto work?

Decant your whole bottle into eto … this ‘opens up’ the wine and brings out its character. Pour yourself a glass – the sharp lip gives drip-free pouring.  But then, at the end of the evening, you push down on the neck and the unique, patented design forms a complete seal preventing any further contact with oxygen.

OK sure, but how do we know it works?

Science: Independent tests conducted at the laboratories of Bangor University show that eto far out-performs the more conventional wine-preservation methods on the market today.

Taste: This is where you come in… At Park Vintners we’re carrying out a blind taste test comparing freshly opened wine with its eto 7 day preserved equivalent.  This will take place on the evening Friday 10th March in the shop and we’d love for you all to come down and taste the difference.

Tom is based on the Wimbledon Park grid, is a dad at Wimbledon Park Primary School, and   is a proud Welshman  – “eto” is Welsh for “again” as the decanter allows you to enjoy your wine again and again… and  we’re very excited to get the chance to be involved in the taste test

www.etowine.com is the website or follow their news on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

So that’s tasting next week, what about this week?

This week we’ll open Nisia ‘Old Vines’ Verdejo 2015, Rueda, Spain (£17.99) it is from really old vines in Rueda, the youngest were planted in 1942, and went down a storm at a recent private tasting we did.  A crackingly complex white wine with a flavour profile that is similar to Sauvignon Blanc, but a softer finish.

Red wine drinkers will swirl, slurp and swoosh with Malbrontes Malbec Torrontes 2015, Mendoza, Argentina (£12.79) where the Malbec is blended with a splash of Torrontes just to give the fruit profile a bit of a lift. Deliciously dark fruited red that we think is perfect for a sirloin Saturday supper.

A Wedding Proposal…

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, how does it feel now that the dust has settled and the wonderful reality is starting to set in?

I’m referring, of course, to that romantic proposal you received on Valentine’s Day last week!  Did he get down on bended knee?  Had she made your favourite pudding?  Were you in the pub?  Up a mountain?  On a beach?  Was there a ring at the ready or was it an impromptu number fashioned out of paper clips?  And did you say yes?!

Assuming that the answer was in the affirmative and that everyone has been told (heaven forfend we spill the beans before Aunt Phillida knows) then now you have a whole set of new challenges to face.

The prospect of a dress that costs more than your student loan debts and will hold its value in much the same way.

A tailored morning suit that will be prove to be a superb investment over and over again when you go to Ascot and the Opera and all the other society events during the season.  Except you don’t go to Ascot and you had the suit fitted when you had been going to the gym for months in preparation for the wedding and now, well, now you don’t seem to find as much time for weights and treadmills.

Soon, you’ll become an expert in marquee dimensions and hard wearing carpet; in flowers and place settings; in etiquette; in invitation writing; in smoked salmon mousse and many, many forms of chicken; in canapés; in cakes, too; perhaps even in wine and Champagne?

What we do

It’s here that we can help.  In the hundred years since we joined the wine trade we have helped out with all manner of weddings and their wines.  Deliveries to restaurants, hotels, marquees, fields, barns, beach-houses – you name it, we’ve rolled up in the trusty Volvo with a bootfull of red, white and fizz, some beer and a couple of nice bottles for the best man and ushers.  It’s what we do.

So if you, or anyone in your near vicinity, are planning on getting married soon and are looking for top notch wedding wines, we really should be involved.  We’ll match wines to food and to budget; we’ll then arrange a tasting of these potential wines with you, which is always the fun part; we’ll advise on quantities and potential pitfalls and we’ll deliver in the trusty Volvo.  It’s what we do!

What else do we do?

We run a shop – as I think most of you know!  The other day a chap called Tom walked in to this shop of ours and we had a chat.  Tom is a product designer and has come up with a rather novel and interesting approach to wine preservation that rather appealed to us.  He was going to send us some notes about his product but I suspect is up to his eyeballs in silicon and glass somewhere in his lab, so I’ll try and give you the gist.

In simple terms, it’s a redesigned bottle that you pour your bottle of wine into.  You then pour and drink from this, as you would normally, and when you have finished for the night but not finished the wine, there is a clever plunger action that expels all the air, thus preserves the wine.  I tasted a bottle that had been in this contraption for 7 days against a bottle of the same wine that had been opened 5 minutes previously and I have to say there was barely anything between the two wines – in fact the 7 day old one I slightly preferred!

The product is still being road tested, which is where you come in.  On 10th March, on the Friday evening, Tom will be in with a wine that has been in his product for 7 days and we will taste it against a wine we will have opened that evening – the same wine, of course.  Ideally, we’ll do a white and a red dependent on how many prototypes Tom has available and it would be great if you could come and help us taste the wines and give your opinion.  Don’t worry, we’ll remind you again over the next few weeks but thought it might be good to introduce you to the concept now.

It’s called eto, by the way, and here’s the website: www.etowine.com

eto | wine preservation decanter

www.etowine.com

Decant | Serve | Preserve – eto: wine preservation decanter. For wine as fresh as the first pour; tomorrow, next week, and beyond. Coming soon to Kickstarter.

And when we’re not doing that, what do we do?

My business making clothes out of cheese has gone bust – Turns out that fromage frays.

The first of Wine and Cheese tasting of 2017 went off last night with all the usual hitches.  Having done over 40 of these now, this is still Wayne’s best joke by far but, apart from this, it was a fantastic evening.  If you didn’t manage to get a space here yesterday, we still have a couple of seats left for the next one on Thursday 30th March and 6 places for the one on Thursday 25th May.  Both start at 8pm and both cost £20 per person – bring a joke.

And finally, what do we do at the weekend?

We open bottles of wine to help ease away the worries of the week.  This week we’ll be opening a white from Chile and a red from Portugal.

Aromo Viognier 2015, Maule Valley, Chile – £8.49 – We really rate this wine and have been selling it for almost 10 years now, one way or another.  Consistently great value and great quality this has lovely peachy-apricot fruit characters and a nice crisp finish.  Mellow and ripe and a great foodmatcher.

Ciconia 2015, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal – £10.49.  A Ciconia is a kind of stork that settles on the plains here.  There’s no bird in the wine though, it’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Aragonez.  Plenty of berry fruit on the nose, spices and rich dark fruit on the palate with a bit of grip from the Touriga.  Something rustic on the grill would complement this nicely, perhaps not stork though…

And that’s us, done!

Cheese Wine and Chewie

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

If I may be so bold, might I suggest that this half term week seems to have instigated a small return to the normal?

There have been school trips, Instagram photos of mountains with snow on them, sports in the park and cinemas visited. Internationally, Mr Flynn has discovered that if you get caught telling porkies to the boss there are consequences, and we all suspect the kids could have warned him!

Future Star Wars movies may be in jeopardy though, due to reports that Harrison Ford maybe about to lose his pilot’s licence. As we went to press, despite several attempts, we had been unable to contact Chewbacca.

On the sports front we have No Nations Rugby this weekend (or a rest week if you prefer!), Arsenal managed their usual capitulation to Bayern Munich, and in a surprise move it would appear Barcelona used the same playbook. Joe Root is the new Alastair Cook, and as we move closer to winter testing, Mercedes have announced former Ferrari whizz, James Allison, as technical director. Clearly they’re keen to hold on to that world domination thing they have going on!

In wine news, Cliff Richard’s estate, Quinta do Miradoura which has been on the market since last year has just seen €3 million knocked of the price. If you have a spare €6.5 million under the bed you can snap up 11 bedrooms with sea and vineyard views, private pool and tennis court and all the winery and equipment too. Form an orderly queue!

More seriously, in a sad day for Swartland wineries it appears that the Swartland Municipality is opening up part of the Paardeberg for sand mining. Despite a two year battle involving lawyers, local, regional and national authorities the Municipality issued two licences this month, and  with the precedent set there will be little to stop a multiplication of mining activity in what, until now, was one of the leading regions in modern South African wine.  Progress, eh!

Wine & Cheese

The February and April dates are sold out but we still have a few places each for:-

Thursday 30th March and Thursday 25th May.

As usual an 8pm start and £20 per person.

Tasting this weekend.

The sudden balmy turn in the weather hasn’t lessened our quest for some wine with sunshine running through them, and this week we’ll head toward the Mediterranean end of France.

Standing in the white corner will be our chum Domaine Antugnac Chardonnay 2015 (£11.99), a cheeky little number from the plateau above Limoux. No oak at all just sun ripened Chardonnay grapes and the tip top winemaking.

The red corner will be occupied by a charming new red called Jean. Jean Gamay Noir 2015 (£13.99) is a new discovery for us, lovely spiced cherry fruits and medium body. Come and give it a taste and let us know what you think.

Cheers!

There are just a few days until St Valentine’s Day – we consider it a community service to remind you all – let’s face it, getting in trouble on a Tuesday is less than ideal!

Friday, February 10th, 2017

 

Ayes to the left and noes to the right – not as easy as they say!

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So that’s it, is it? We’ve had a couple of days debating a series of ayes to the left and noes to the right and now the timetable is all ready for the action ahead. We’re expecting some hard knocks along the way and the possibility of some disappointment, too.

First off though, we’ll tell a remarkable tale of healing. This tale, whilst not as incredible as the idea of a former security guard becoming President or  a former property developer hanging up the phone in an apparent huff with the leader of another country, is nonetheless amazing.

No, no, no, readers, the Australian in this tale is called Eddie and the remarkable tale of healing is that of Joe Marler, who looks likely to start for the England rugby team despite suffering a fractured leg barely a month ago.  Tough as old boots, these rugby fellows!

The Six Nations starts on Saturday, with the action starting at 2.30 with Scotland hosting Ireland at Murrayfield. A chance for a comfort break and a quick visit to the wine shop before England stick it to host the French at Twickenham, at 5pm. We round off with Italy hosting Wales in the Sunday game, at 2pm.

In other sports, local giant killers Sutton United FC, having already squashed the cup dreams of AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United, are relishing their 5th round draw at home to Arsenal, who, in the form they displayed this week, must be terrified.

In proper sports, the Tour of Dubai is proving rather eventful. Mark Cavendish came 3rd on the opening days racing, having ridden the last 4km with a puncture. Then, on day 3, Andrei Grivko was kicked off the race and fined 200 Swiss Francs for punching Marcel Kittel. Kittel commented: “I guess Grivko had a coffee too much this morning”.

In other news, we find out that Francis Ford Coppola’s wines will be those poured at this year’s Oscars. In classic Hollywood understatement: ‘What seems logical to me is that if anyone’s going to provide wine to the Academy, it ought to be the Coppola family,’ Coppola said. ‘We were one of the earliest of the film people to get into the wine business; we have the most established, broad-based wine business of any film celebrity and, as a family, I imagine we have won as many nominations and wins as any.’  We understand around 2100 bottles will be consumed on the evening, not a bad sale, we thought!

Whilst we’re on the subject of wine, the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that we put some dates in the diary for some Cheese & Wine tastings. First up is Thursday 23rd February at 8pm and I couldn’t help wondering if it might make for a suitable gift for Valentine’s Day. £20 per person gets you a seat at the table , cheese, wine and crackers. Surely that’s more fun than a bunch of roses!

Whilst we’re on the subject of sweethearts, we couldn’t help but notice that Dame Vera Lynn is celebrating her 100th birthday by releasing a new album. It contains guest appearances by Aled Jones, Alfie Boe and Alexander Armstrong; stories of a follow-up featuring Bruno Mars, Billy Idol and the Bay City Rollers are unconfirmed.

We’ll be raising a glass to Dame Vera this weekend with Handcrafted Gruner Vetliner 2016 by Martin & Anna Arndorfer (£14.49). They are particularly lazy in the winery  and this delicious white wine is made with a real minimum of intervention: unfiltered, unfined, and with a gentle spritz. Fresh, with a real, life-affirming zestiness.

On the red front, we’ll go a little more mainstream with Boekenhoutskloof’s Chocolate Block 2015 (£23.99 or 6 for £120), a rather delightful little number that you may have heard of. This vintage, all of the grapes are from Swartland.

That’s it from us, Dame Vera deposing Pete Tong’s Classic House from the top of the album chart might be fun.

We’ll meet again!

January Sale, Wine and Cheese Tastings

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A cold week, a foggy week and generally a week worth forgetting – a typical late January week if we’re honest with ourselves – and a week filled with comings and goings:

  • Mr Trump arrived demure and understated as ever, whilst Obama slipped out through the back door and giddily ran for the hills.
  • Zoe and Chris, from The Cake Parlour, finally made good on all their threats and shipped off back to Australia, just in time for Australia Day and 24 degrees in the shade – can’t imagine why they’d want to leave! The new owners of the Parlour seem very nice though, so I’m sure business will rock on.
  • It would also seem that, according to one of our sources (but we haven’t corroborated this with any of the hairdressers yet), Just Pause, beside the Post Office, has also left Arthur Road – certainly the windows are all blacked out and the shop has been completely cleared, so something is definitely afoot. Is this now the opportunity for one of you to open that Wine Bar we all know the area needs?  Or a hairdressers, perhaps!
  • As a country we’ve still left Europe but then, on the other hand, we haven’t quite managed it yet as there now needs to be another vote about a vote that we’ve already voted in – ah, the never ending layers of bureaucracy, surely that’s one of the things we were hoping to leave in Europe….
  • All the Brits left the tennis in Melbourne and the Open suddenly seems to have turned into a Veterans event.
  • And January has almost left us, and with it the 6 for 5 deal, but February is around corner, with its Six Nations deal to keep our weekends lively.

And we’ve been busy.  Monday was paperwork and deliveries; Tuesday found Alex trying to go to a supplier tasting and lunch in Farringdon, only to discover the event was on Wednesday; Wednesday was the start of Wine School and consequently all of Wayne’s jokes needed to be dusted off and given a good polish to honour the event; Thursday was Australia Day and appropriately, colder than the Baltic.   Most of every day we have been wrestling with Office 365, we’ve lost our Outlook Calendar, found it again on our phones, re-instated it on Outlook and then crossed our fingers each morning when we relight the computer praying that it’ll still be there.  And we’ve organised some dates for upcoming tastings.  And now it’s Friday, payday, hip, hip hooray!

WINE & CHEESE TASTINGS

Many of you have been on one of these, a significant number of you have been on two or three, and lots of you have never been.  None of these reasons should exclude you from coming to one this year.

We have developed a very good relationship with a French cheese wholesaler who, in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, is located in Wellington Works, which is more commonly known locally as the end of the road Alex lives on.  Anyway, the cheeses are great, not always French which is also great, and different every time – what’s not to like.  The wines come off our shelves and we always endeavour to select wines that will tantalise the tastebuds and complement the cheeses, rather than torture them.  2-3 kilos of cheese, 6 or 7 wines, bread and crackers – where do I sign up!

Dates are:

Thursday 23rd February

Thursday 30th March

Thursday 27th April

Thursday 25th May

Each evening will start at 8pm and we have a maximum of 12 seats.  The cost is £20 per person and, as places are limited, we ask that any reservation is supported by payment, to avoid disappointment!

IF THOSE TASTINGS ALL SEEM A BIT TO FAR DISTANT

We will have wine open in the shop this weekend, as ever.  As it was Aussie Day yesterday and we all wish we were somewhere warmer right now, we’re opening a couple of stonkers from down under.

Pauletts Polish Hill River Aged Release Riesling 2009, Clare Valley – £18.99

The name is a bit of a mouthful but then so is the wine!  Aged Riesling from Australia may seem like a market without demand but as the wine is so blooming delicious it just sells itself.  Honeysuckle, citrus, apples, orchard fruits in general, close your eyes and you can almost smell the shrimps blackening on the barbecue…

Paringa Estate Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015, Mornington Peninsula – £27.59

This may seem like a slightly awkward compliment but this is my second favourite Pinot Noir.  The first is from Oregon and has a suitably niche and elevated price tag and, significantly for today’s purposes, is not from Australia.  This chap, the silver medallist in a photo finish in the race to become my favourite, is from Mornington’s most celebrated estates.  Soft, ripe cherry red fruit, hints of spice in the background and an enormous pleasure to drink, which is a very Australian approach to winemaking and we fully support it.  Come and taste some before I polish it all off…

Should your cockles need more serious warming we do still have a number of our whiskies open, plus the sloe gin and of course King’s Ginger, the perfect foil to the cold weather.

Right that’s it from us, we’re off now, buoyed by The Donald’s confident assumption that Mexico will pay for the wall, we’re going to tell our neighbours to pay for a ski holiday!

To emulate Wayne’s herculean efforts this week, how about joining us for the slightly less frenetic Wine School that starts next Wednesday?

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘122 wines (2 of them twice, just to check), 3 olive oils, countless grissini and a couple of pints of Guinness.’

It’s rare, but occasionally we get a sneaky glimpse into Wayne’s diary to find out what he’s really up to when he claims to be cycling/visiting family in Essex/trimming the hedge/painting the fence/swinging the lead… To be fair, he does spend a significant portion of his non-work life engaging in all of the activities above but every now and then he goes off the reservation and hits the town.

This happened on Tuesday.

A quick warm up tasting at the Oval (30 wines tasted, 3 olive oils, various breads) was an exercise more focused around trying new vintages of wines we currently list and a couple of esoteric peripheral treats – for example, a quality Lambrusco and then a 1978 Terrantez from Madeira that was a rare treat but, at over £150 for a half bottle, it is unlikely to be appearing in the shop anytime soon!  Olive oil was all delicious and green and herbaceous and frankly we got side-tracked…

Next stop Langan’s.  Well you should really, shouldn’t you, if the purpose of your day is vinous extravagance.  A baker’s dozen of wines here, tasted in the upstairs room with all the photos of all the luminaries propping Peter Langan up, the sort of photos Hello and co aspired to present but none as classy and cool as this collection.  Again we got side-tracked.  Some really tasty and interesting wines from Beaujolais (the ‘next big thing’ apparently if Lambrusco doesn’t get there first, or posh Madeira), some genuine horror stories from various bits of the New World, some melt in the mouth slivers of hand-carved Serrano ham and we’re out the door, all within half an hour.

Quick courtesy call at Marks & Spencer’s and then a route march down to the Albert Hall, having misjudged the intervening distance.  Tasting wasn’t in the hall but when you’re tasting next door, this is the landmark you aim for.  Here is where teeth turned black, and tasting notes grew monosyllabic.  Almost 80 wines tasted and noted – the two Cremant were re-examined a few times, just as a respite, just as a palate cleanser and then as a treat – sometimes it is just too rude to spit.

And the Guinness.  Now that tasted fabulous, the requirement to spit was no longer there and a body that had been teased all day by the prospect of a tasty tipple was finally given its reward.

If that’s what he gets up to on a Tuesday, one can scarce imagine what his weekends must be like!

Last call for Wine School

Following on from Wayne’s herculean efforts this week, how about joining us for the slightly less frenetic Wine School that starts next Wednesday, 25th January at 8pm?

Admittedly, over the six week course you will only taste about half the number of wines Wayne tasted on Tuesday, about 10 each week, but to be able to be like Wayne you need to have been like Wayne for a long time – and not many people have….

Anyway, over the six weeks you will learn about all your old favourites – Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and friends – but you will also get to learn about, and taste, other grape varieties that perhaps you are always a little wary of when confronted with the wine list.  Treat yourself to this in 2017 – if wine is going to get more expensive, it might be time to explore the roads less travelled, where greater value hides!

Wine School – Wednesday 25th January to Wednesday 8th March

(half term 15th February)

£150 per person, 4 places remaining.

6 for 5

16.66% discount.  On wine and beer.  Many of you have partaken, more of you haven’t.  It ends when January ends, as does abstinence – you might well need a bottle or six by then!

Haggis time

This time next week we’ll have celebrated Mr Burns’ night.  We’ll have asked ourselves why we don’t eat haggis, neeps and tatties on a more regular basis.  Then we’ll remember what we read in the paper about the critical shortage of courgettes and other veg from Spain and Italy at the moment, and it will dawn on us that maybe we will be having neeps and tatties more regularly, like it or not.

But it’s not all bad news.  The joys of the haggis meal are limitless.  It’s the simplest dinner party in the world – boiling and mashing whilst leaving the wee beestie to its own business in the oven means more time for socialising and champagne drinking.  There’s barely any washing up.  It tastes fabulous and when else can you open a bottle of whisky and pour it onto your food ‘as a gravy’ – Wayne, of course, thinks this rocks!

So, speaking of Whisky we can offer:

Benromach 10 year old £36.99

Speymalt Macallan 2006 £37.99

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 £38.99

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 £42.99

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 £45.99

Highland Park 2006 (Cask Strength) £50.00

Connoisseurs Choice Royal Brackla 1998 £52.99

Coopers Choice Glenrothes 1997 £69.69

MacPhail’s 21 year old £69.99

Ardmore 1996 £72.99

Should you not wish to use up all your units on hard spirit we have plenty of wine recommendations for the Scottish dinner.  Reds from the Rhone and Spain have historically given us great pleasure and with this in mind we’ll break from the norm this week and open two reds for tasting, one from each of the above regions:

Celler de Capçanes Mas Picosa de flor en flor 2013, Montsant, Spain (£13.29) – Montsant is the area surrounding Priorat, in the hills behind Tarragona, just south of Barcelona.  This is a winning blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah giving us plenty of brambly aromas with a juicy vibrant palate and a lovely fresh finish, which we think will be spot on with almost everything meaty.  Oh, and it’s organic.

Boutinot Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux’ 2013, Rhône, France (£10.99) – Common practice in the Côtes du Rhône is to bottle the best cuvées as a single named Village wine and the rest as basic Rhône Villages.  The philosophy with this wine, however, is to start with the intention of making the very best Côtes du Rhône Villages possible.  They source wine from the vineyards of named villages and enrich them with a small proportion of barrel-aged wine from Sablet, Séguret and Cairanne.  The results are fabulous, as you can taste here, with well-balanced brambly fruit and soft tannin that is bang on the money and always a crowd pleaser – can you believe we haven’t put this on a weekend tasting since April 2011?

So there you go – a round-up of the week just gone and some ideas for next week including an offer some fun wine education!

We’re off now to play a kazoo duet at the Trump inauguration – do anything for a buck and a corndog in January!

Knowing Sauvignon Blanc from Cabernet Sauvignon is a real life skill…

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Is it me or is it getting a bit chilly?

This week has been rather eventful on the news front, real, imagined or fake. Now, I think it may be my age but I find it increasingly difficult to distinguish which is which. I saw that Jay Rayner is going to approach 2017 by staying furious about food for the whole year; I may take a similar approach to the news.

If Emily Maitlis or Jon Snow say it, we’ll assume it to be mostly real news or valid opinion, if it’s Paul Merton or Ian Hislop we’ll assume the same with a humorous twist, and anybody else’s news we’ll assume to be imagined, faked or reality (which, as we can tell from the TV, bears no resemblance to the real world at all!)

It was with some surprise that we saw the A303 appear all over the news wires this week. For boys from Essex and Kent inhabiting South West London, the A303 is a road we spend a surprising amount of time talking about.

Alex has, by virtue of marriage, become rather better acquainted with the road than almost anybody else who grew up in Kent, whilst Wayne takes a similar approach to the road as he does to golf. He listens sympathetically, has a couple of key facts, and then looks blank if the conversation takes a technical turn.

The A303 reared its ‘slow on a Friday’ head this week with the news that they’re planning to put a tunnel under Stonehenge to ease the ‘slow on a Friday’ aspect of the A303. I’ll be the first to put my hand up to paying less attention in tunnel engineering class than I should have, but tunnel under Stonehenge?

Stonehenge, I seem to remember, is a collection of really big stones that arrived from Wales by unknown methods, possibly religious, a really long time ago. Given we don’t know why they turned up, or how they got there, is it not a bit dangerous to just go tunnelling underneath them. Has nobody in government heard of the Mines of Moria? Progress marches on, eh?

Wine School

We would be as bold to suggest that knowing Sauvignon Blanc from Cabernet Sauvignon is a real life skill, as much as being able to make a fish finger sandwich or mushroom risotto, let alone opening a bottle of champagne without spraying your guests.

Come along to wine school and enhance your life, we can’t help with the fish finger risotto or the mushroom sandwich but, the Sauvignon thing, we’re all over like a rash.

School starts on Wednesday 25th January at 8pm.
£150 per person.

Wine Trade

We’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that the wine trade can be a funny old business, full of quirky people and strange traditions. One of those quirky traditions is that January is stuffed to the gunnels with tastings as all the new release Burgundy is about and many suppliers take advantage of the fact.

In their infinite quirkiness several of our suppliers are having a tasting on Tuesday and as a result
we shall be closed on Tuesday 17th January.

We’ll be busy tasting wines to try and keep all your palates tingling throughout 2017. Apologies for this, we hope you understand.

Weekend Tasting

The white corner will be inhabited by Southern Dawn Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (£10.49) a cracking example of what Marlborough does best.

The red corner is also going to be inhabited by a chap from the southern half. De Bortoli Heathcote Shiraz 2014 (£12.39) which is a lovely drop of red from Heathcote, directly north from Melbourne but quite a long way inland, well balanced with blackberry, plum and spice character – very appropriate for the current coldsnap.

That’s all from us – don’t forget we’re still doing our 6 for 5 offer – so pop by , book a place on the wines school and then take six bottles home for revision!

Stay cool!