Archive for the ‘general’ Category

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

Friday, 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.’

What?

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!

Friday, 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:

www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/tickets/ballot_uk.html

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

Friday, 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?

¡Salud!

Sunny September Sidles In!

Friday, 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

Friday, 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.

Cheers!

Wine in School, Tastings, and the Big Brother House

Friday, 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.

Smile, Thyme Square and Vouvray

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we’ve seen psychopathic joggers, crazed world leaders trying to out crazy one another, and children arrested in Iran for dancing Zumba. Now, I don’t know about you but it seems to me everyone needs to calm down, take a deep breath and count to five, or maybe just join Alex by the pool for a glass of something fresh.

Perhaps this from Spike Milligan will help.

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.

 

I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.

When he smiled I realized I’d passed it on to him.

 

I thought about that smile, then I realized its worth.

A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.

 

So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.

Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!

 

In sport, the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicked off, with England giving Spain a thorough 56-5 drubbing, whilst Ireland beat Australia in a 19-17 thriller.

 

I see Big Mo is in his last track 5000m tomorrow night before plans to move up to Marathon running. I can’t help but wonder if Mrs Mo knows just how long his Sunday morning runs are going to be now!

 

Premiership Season kicks off tonight with Arsenal hosting Leicester. Elsewhere it seems Chelsea and Manchester United are still looking for players, and Danny Rose is unhappy with his pay at Spurs.

 

In other news, Groundhog Day the Musical is playing on Broadway at the moment. On Tuesday evening Bill Murray was in the audience, as he was on Wednesday. If you’re reading this from New York, the show is at 8pm this evening, and tomorrow.

 

As has become something of a tradition whilst Alex is on holiday I have bought something new. By way of departure from the norm, it is a beer rather than an exciting Italian red.

 

Adrian from Belleville Brewery dropped by with my new purchase yesterday morning. Thyme Square Saison (£2.60 33cl can) is one of their seasonal brews. It pours a hazy orange in the glass with herby and citrus aromas.  On the palate it is fruity with some herbal notes, the weight of a wheat beer and a lovely refreshing finish that isn’t bitter at all. A lovely summer brew that’ll refresh the farmer in all of us!

 

Talking of exciting Italian reds our latest allocation of Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2014 mysteriously arrived during Alex’s absence too. So if you think a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Cabernet Franc (15%) that just happens to be one of Italy’s most iconic bottlings might be up your street, just let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

 

Tasting this weekend

 

I’ll never get the Sassicaia past the budget committee, so thought instead we could put our tasting gear to action with another newbie, the Cours La Reine St Chinian 2015 (£10.99). From one of France’s oldest appellations, it has our old chums Grenache and Syrah in the blend and I can’t help but think it’s ideal for this time of year.

 

Vouvray Coteaux Les Tufiers Demi-Sec 2015 (£11.99) from the North Bank of the Loire valley is where we’ll be on the white front, for no better reason than I fancy it! A perfect partner to some sashimi, smoked fish, or maybe some tandoori fish kebabs on the barbecue.

 

Pop in for a taste and give us a smile!

Exodus

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Week 2 of the Great Exodus of 2017 – nothing extraordinary to report from Arthur Road.

Alex reminds me from his hammock that, in the month of August, I can write pretty much what I please since most people’s inboxes have been left on their desk at work and the term ‘internet access’  becomes ‘no internet access’ once you get past Salisbury.

But what does one do with such a blank canvas, aside from stare blankly at it?

I could kick off with some trivia about how August used to be called Sextilis when it lived higher up the charts in sixth place rather than eighth.  I could then whimsy a little about how nice it would be if it was still at number 6 because that would mean there would be no January or February, which are terrible months filled with abstinence, cold weather and family birthdays!  I could continue the whimsy with the proposal that it would be great to celebrate Christmas and New Year with the knowledge that spring is only three weeks away and my closing argument would centre around the premise that, in a world that is becoming increasingly metric, a 10 month year would seem logical and if the US want to maintain their imperial measurements they can keep January and February and have ours too.

And that would be the first paragraph written.

After the whimsy I could then discuss what’s been going on in the world and I could start with The Guardian and a selection of stories that they’ve published in the last two weeks:

  • Heavy drinking will kill 63,000 people over next five years, doctors warn (24/07/17)
  • Booze is a joy – so stop criticising women for drinking (25/07/17)
  • Sport and sunshine fuel surge in UK supermarket alcohol sales (25/07/17)
  • Is it time to tackle Britain’s alcohol problem? (26/07/17)
  • Regular alcohol consumption could cut diabetes risk, study finds (28/07/17)

I’m still not sure which message The Guardian is trying to push here and I’m positive they don’t have a clue either but one has to admire their spread of clickbait.

Second paragraph done and still no mention of cycling but not for long…

For now I can mention my persistent sadness that I never seem to get a place in Ride London but hope that next year might be my time but in the meantime I’ll keep pinging myself round and around Richmond Park and down Sydenham and up Box and Leith and other places that Alex has never heard of… at which point I will realise that I forgot to stick my political joke in earlier about how if you had bought a pint of milk on the day Anthony Scaramucci was hired it would still be good to drink – one of many very good jokes going round about America’s best loved communications director.

And the order of the email won’t matter because it’s Sextilis.

I now envisage that I am on the home straight and need to start thinking about what I should have on tasting this weekend – in the blanc corner we have:

Domaine Morin-Langaran Cuvee Caroline Picpoul de Pinet 2016, France – £11.99

Picpoul: a grape variety that has been grown for years on the banks of Lake Thau, in sight of the famous oyster-beds of Bouzigues.  The vines bask in the sunshine, being gently aired by the salty breeze and thus this wine is unmistakably Mediterranean.  Domaine Morin-Langaran has been in the same family since 1966 and they produce a classic Picpoul, aged on its fine lees for complexity and the perfect match to shellfish (oysters perhaps?), grilled fish or just as an aperitif!

Château de Belleverne, Beaujolais Villages ‘La Basse-Cour’ 2015, France – £10.99

A lovely drop of Gamay this one.  A fresh, delicate and light wine with vibrant fresh strawberry aromas, a lovely freshness of red fruits and a lightness of touch on the palate.  People seem to be rediscovering Beaujolais at last, with good cause – we’d suggest popping a Brie in the oven and tucking in with some crusty bread!

And that’s the August email template done – a quick mention of the Wine School that starts on Wednesday 4th October and is a six week course over a seven week period and costs a remarkably sensible price of £150 and then a witty sign off and we’re done.  I’ll keep this format for the next few weeks and indeed for next year, just need to remember to tidy it up a bit before I send it….

Wayne & Alex

Big Brother is watching you!

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As I sit here by the pool, 30 degrees registering on the mercury, a sea vista to the front of me, the rolling hills behind me and a Tinto de Verano to my right, a wave of nausea nostalgia washes over me as I wonder what is going on back in Blighty.  No television here, no English language radio, the buzzing and clicking of cicadas only supplanted by the whining of mopeds, the shrieks from the tennis court and the gentle popping of corks…

Is there anyone left in Wimbledon Park, I wonder?  Certainly, when I joined the airport queue at 4pm last Friday there seemed to be a lot of people in front of me and very soon double the amount behind me.  The flight was full but fortunately no unaccompanied teenagers were booted off, nobody tried to open the door at 30,000 feet and we departed well within the 38 hour delay record that was in the process of being set by Thomson up in Aberdeen.  Arrival was suitably sun drenched and sweaty, the hire car was a ‘similar’ model to the one we had requested and thus smaller of course, whilst the offer of extra insurance and a GPS was dismissed by my wife with some very agricultural language not usually heard on the Costa!

By Saturday, happily ensconced in the hammock, it was time to review activities back in Arthur Road, via the newly installed antler mounted CCTV cameras that Wayne didn’t know about until now (assuming he can read this email whilst out on his bike).  Initially I thought I had the screen on pause: no cars were passing, no pedestrians hoved into view, nothing stirred.  Then Wayne wandered across the shop, put some beer in the fridge, stood in the doorway surveying his domain, shrugged, turned around and went back to the counter where, I suspect, the Tour de France was being surreptitiously viewed.  At this juncture I fear I might have dozed off for an hour or two, a combination of a un-chlorinated chicken luncheon and such desperately uncompelling viewing but, when I awoke at around 6pm your time, there was Wayne, once again in the doorway, followed by the same shrug and, entertainingly, a very Jackson-esque moonwalk back to the counter!

Thus it would seem that there is someone left in Wimbledon Park, his name is Wayne and he’s keen for customers or, at the very least, a dance partner!

So, as I said, in the absence of television and English language broadcast I can only guess at what has been making the news this week, so here goes.  Trump has tweeted something inflammatory that has caused the Republicans to bury their heads in their hands once again; a footballer, talented but no Ronaldo, has been sold or potentially sold for 40 times Gary Lineker’s salary; we are struggling in the cricket; some scare story about Brexit, probably linked to border crossings, as it’s holiday time; articles about how boring/exciting Jordan Spieth/Chris Froome/Joe Root is; Theresa May; Jeremy Corbyn; Southern Rail; Lady Di…. am I close?

EARLY CLOSING SATURDAY

Having watched enough CCTV footage to convince me, I have decided that Wayne can take an early bath this Saturday, and in fact every Saturday through until the end of August.  So, he will be closing the doors promptly at 7pm tomorrow, and the 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th August too – you have been warned!

Before he closes, however, he will be busy selling spaces on our 6 week Wine School that starts at the beginning of October (details attached) and will also be tasting a couple of wines with all you lucky punters still in SW19.

The white this week is one we haven’t had on taste for over a year, which is very surprising since it’s a wine that oozes summertime: Leira Seca Alvarinho e Trajadura Vinho Verde 2016, Minho, Portugal – £11.49.  Alvarinho and Trajadura are grown on the sloping banks of the Minho River, which is the natural border between Spain and Portugal.  It’s as deliciously crisp as you’d imagine with lemon and lime citrus notes, lovely stone fruits flavours and a crisp long finish.

Staying in northern Iberia but at the eastern end, the red of choice this week is Celler de Capçanes Mas Collet 2015, Montsant, Spain – £13.99.  Once you’ve crossed the French Border, skirted around Barcelona and hit the outskirts of Tarragona, take a hard right into the hills and you will hit the region of Montsant after about 20 minutes.  Its relative proximity to the French border means that Carignan and Grenache are still very much in charge here but not without a fine showing from Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aged for 9 months in barrique this is deliciously rich, smooth, balanced, polished and frankly, utterly delicious.

And that’s it from me for now, it’s hot and I need a swim.  If anyone is in Arthur Road today or tomorrow do pop in and see Wayne, have a glass of wine and a dance and don’t forget to wave at the deer on top of the beer fridge!

Abyssinia,

Wayne & Alex

PS if anyone owns a small business, read this link, I think we’ve all been there! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40728480

The Park Vintners Gender Gap

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Running a wine shop seems sometimes to be a series of ebbs and flows, known jobs and unknown jobs.  Clearly there’s the usual, buy wine, sell wine, chat with customer bits as you’d expect. Then there is the other stuff.

This week, as expected, Alex completed our quarterly VAT return, Elaine from Z-Group came and checked that he’d put all his decimal places in the right place and had the correct receipts.

Unexpectedly, Wayne found himself wielding sandpaper and paintbrush to protect the flaking window ledge from the weather.

We found ourselves writing some tasting notes, doing a couple of deliveries but also wondering why a photograph of a signature is less acceptable than a scanned signature to the finance industry. Ultimately we bought a stamp and sent a real signature!

Importantly though, we have no glaring pay gaps that the government feels we need to share with the newspapers. Despite the myriad of jobs and responsibilities both of us are paid at the same rate. Very much an equal opportunity employer is Park Vintners, with no gender pay gap at all. Rufus the spaniel regards himself very much as a volunteer, definitely not an unpaid intern! He is very happy to keep an eye on the back garden in exchange for the occasional ear scratch.

In sporting endeavours, the cricket was a complete debacle, with South Africa running amok to level the series. England’s selectors have turned to Essex batsman Tom Westley in the hope of some runs.

In the footie, England beat Scotland 6-0 in their opening game of the Women’s Euros. No gender gap in Scotland then, but perhaps the English men’s team should watch and learn!

In the golf, The Open has started at Royal Birkdale with many hopes on young local boy Tommy Fleetwood.  It seems Dustin Johnson finds favour with the bookies, though Wayne thinks it could be Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson providing the excitement on Sunday. But what does he know about golf?

In real sport the most open Tour de France in years is drawing close to the Champs Élysée. Will Chris Froome win his fourth tour or will Romain Bardet give France their first winner since 1985, when Bernard Hinault was victorious?

Unexpectedly, we have four places on this week’s Cheese & Wine Tasting.

Thursday 27th July at 8pm – £20 per person.

Let us know if you’d like to come along and join the fun.

After this one, the next Cheese & Wine Tasting is Thursday 5th October.

Wine School

It may feel like ages but September will be here before you know it and with it the start of the new term of Wine School.  For those of you who don’t know about this we’ve attached some details but, in a nut shell, over the course of six weeks you will learn about and taste around 6o wines.  You’ll fall in love with Chardonnay once more, discover life beyond Malbec and be able to spot a corked wine from 5 paces.  You’ll do a lot more than this obviously and all for only £150.

Sign up today, before you go away.

Wednesday 4th October till Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 8pm.

£150 per person.

Wednesday 25th October off for half term.

Currently we have plenty of spaces left, so tell your friends too!

Tasting this weekend

With a nod to the crowded skies filled with departing holidaymakers this weekend we thought we’d crack open a bottle of the Max Ferd. Richter Zeppelin Riesling 2015 (£14.49). Crisp, zesty apple and peach flavour with a finely focused slate character, typical for the vineyard  this is great as an aperitif wine or with light seafood and poultry dishes but, more significantly, is a great wine to persuade people that Riesling is an enjoyment not a punishment!

In the red corner we’ll be opening Castello di Luzzano Umore Nero Pinot Nero 2015 (£15.99). It’s a new listing, we’ve been looking at Pinot Noir’s from Italy for ages and struggled, if I’m honest, to find one we were happy with. Little did we know that the entire time this was right under our nose and we’d just never tasted it!

So come and enjoy a glass with us this evening or tomorrow whilst you book up your seat for the Wine & Cheese tasting next week!