Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Park Vintners January 6 for 5 Offer

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Lovely, lovely, lovely, thank you very much.  Christmas was fab, New Year’s Eve was an appropriately late night and having the first few days of 2017 away from the grindstone was marvellous – how about you?

However, we are now back to the aforementioned grindstone.  Christmas decorations have come down, apart, of course, from the really obvious one that we won’t notice until mid February but that’s almost as an important part of the tradition as the big day itself.  We’ve even seen some customers – our first day back we mainly sold Champagne and fine wine, belated gifts allegedly but we think that more than one of these was a case of letting the good times roll, just a little longer!  We’ve looked at some sales figures but not too forensically – unsurprisingly Prosecco was our best selling fizz but, overall, Champagne outsold sparkling wine in December – as it should do.  Hepple Gin was still our best selling spirit, maintaining category dominance for a full year now and, as we have been predicting all year, our best seller overall, January to December, was Chateau de L’Aumerade Cru Classé Rose from Provence and at a canter.  Not a bad shopping basket that though – Rose for the summer, Prosecco for weekdays, Champagne for weekends, high days and holidays and Gin for 5pm – make mine a large one.

As you can imagine we are fully eschewing abstinence (tautology, perhaps?), certainly when it comes to alcohol – be a bit like being a vegan butcher really – although speaking of veganism, Wayne has fully immersed himself in Veganuary, because he’s clearly nuts and wants to become one, whereas right now all that Alex seems to have given up is telling the truth!

But, we know some of you will be dry January-ing so if there was any way that we could encourage you all to visit 126 Arthur Road sometime over the next 25 days, how could we incentivise you.  We’re all done on mince pies, smoked salmon and boxes of Celebrations, so perhaps we must offer something with a little more wallet appeal in these dark cold days…

6 for 5

… of course!  All we had to do was look at what we wrote in January 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 to find the appropriate mechanic.  Yes folks, as now seems traditional in this small corner of southwest London, might we present to you the Park Vintners January 6 for 5 Offer.  Similar to the ongoing Champagne and sparkling wine deal we offer all year, for January we will be extending this offer to wine too.  Why don’t we include beer as well!  But not spirits I’m afraid, all the profit on those is reserved for HMRC, unfortunately it’s our Duty.  Oh, and it’s only wines we have in stock currently.  And a couple of the Champagnes aren’t in the deal either but let’s not get caught up in all the Ts & Cs, this is a glorious offer – 6 bottles for the price of 5, mixable, a ‘16.66% off’ straight-up deal, none of this ‘cheapest bottle free’ malarkey.  Drive your cars down and fill your boots.

The other thing this deal doesn’t apply to is Wine School, sorry.  If 6 of you want to attend then I’m afraid you’ll all have to pay, although this might be a bit academic(!) since we don’t have six spaces left.  However we do still have some unallocated seats at the table so if, like our customers earlier in the week, you are still short of a Christmas gift then this could be just the ticket.  Equally, again like our other customers earlier in the week, if you fancy this as a gift for yourself, don’t let anyone judge you!

WINE SCHOOL – WEDNESDAY 25TH JANUARY UNTIL WEDNESDAY 8TH MARCH – £150 PER PERSON

Half term 15th February – further details attached.

WORLDS BEST MARTINI

http://www.worldsbestmartini.co.uk/

It would seem Hepple should be paying us a commission – two mentions in one blog!  Anyway, whilst we wait for that, how about seeing how they get on in this challenge on Tuesday January 17th up at Bar 366, which is just a hop and a skip from Clapham Junction or a shorter trip from the 156 bus stop at Plough Road.  Either way, they’ve done extremely well to make the shortlist of 5 Gins and well, frankly, as Victoria Moore once said, when writing in the Daily Telegraph “it might be the best Martini gin I’ve ever tasted.”  You never know, you might even see us there – Tuesday night Martini’s, let the good times roll!

That’s it from us – we’ll have a white and a red open tonight and tomorrow, we just haven’t had the energy to choose it yet, what with this new vegan diet…

Bananas!

Out with the old in with the new!

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers.

They’re stealing away our childhood memories, dad.

A horrible year continued its malevolent course over the Christmas period as George, Carrie and, suddenly Debbie too, all left us behind.  It’s high time we move on from ‘bad 2016’ and looked to remember the happier events that happened in ‘good 2016’…

January – we started the year singing I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger, as we encouraged you to join our Wine School and get involved with our annual 6 for 5 deal.  Updated healthy drinking guidelines were published – confirming once again that riding a bike or driving a car are still more likely to knock you off your perch.  Then it was Burns night, an end to abstention and whisky galore.  And Black Tower was rebranded and relaunched, with an initial focus on the northeast…

February – the Six Nations came back to town as did Valentines day, half term and Lent – all things that are mutually exclusive to each other.  And the end of the month brought us the headline: Donald Trump cements frontrunner status after big win in Nevada (The Guardian) – oh my, how little we knew…

March – Wayne practises jokes on Rufus the dog (If I’ve got three eyes, four ears, two mouths and a sprouting beauty spot, how do I look?  Ruff, he replied) as the start of the month seems a bit slow.  Mother’s Day was well celebrated, Maria Sharapova got busted and sparkling wine sales in the UK topped £1 billion – I think we all helped here, certainly if Mimi sales count in this!  The Chancellor then increased duty on wine to £2.52 a bottle whilst a week later Tesco sold bottles of Champagne for £7.50.  And the sun shone…

April – in the first instant we had people believing Wayne was about to become a Country and Western singer covering Shania Twain songs – frankly, for some of us, that was the highlight of the year!  We then bought some rum from Panama, as it was in the news (Panama, that is) and some Gin from Peckham, because it’s so nice (the Gin, that is).  Thinking of Gin, the Queen hit 90 this month.  We bought a pallet of Provence Rosé, just as it started to rain…

May – the first vote of the year.  With what was to happen later in the year we really should have seen Ankit, leader of One Love and the alleged Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, who wanted to clear air pollution whilst simultaneously legalising pot as our new Mayor.  Sadiq from Tooting in fact won, and there was no controversy or gnashing of teeth.  Wayne came back from cycling and Alex went to play golf.  In the midst of this they tasted lots of different wines  – Wayne’s tasting note, for the Handcrafted Gruner Veltliner (£13.99) reaching new peaks of lyricism – ‘that’s right dangerous that, you’d need at least a six box for the weekend!’  You can take the boy out of Essex…. And early promise of sunshine remained elusive as Alex watched cricket wearing a beanie and two coats, sitting on the bonnet of the car to steal the engine warmth on 21st May…

June – Europe played football whilst England watched, street parties celebrated the Queen, 52% of the country was victorious in a plebiscite, I forget what it was about but suffice to say it was quickly forgotten…

July – Jags and SUV’s swamped SW19 as the tennis rolled into town.  Or were the Jags and SUV’s already here?  Anyway, Murray won and collective gloom was alleviated as the sun shone and our favourite jolly Scotsman joked ‘it’s not that bad is it?!’  And then the Jags left and the SUV’s left and the summer solstice took the last train to the coast and Wayne wondered if it was something he had said…

August – Wayne swept the shop and put the signs out everyday, like a character in a novel, waiting for a customer to waft in, the Olympics went off very well for Team GB, Leigh-on-Sea was voted happiest place to live by Rightmove and we wallowed in a heatwave…

September – stand by your beds, schools are back and life is back.  We advertised our Christmas Fizz tasting for December and it sold out almost overnight.  Pitt and Jolie split whilst Trump makes comments about women that most now surely make him completely unelectable and our last Wine School for this year started…

October – Cod speak in regional accents.  Not sure what papers Wayne  reads, but his was one of his discoveries this month.  Trivial?  Not if you’re the one receiving the research grant.  The Pound slumped and wine got more expensive handily just at the time all retailers are putting in their big Christmas orders.  The clocks went back and Sloe Gin and King’s Ginger strode back into the limelight, brandishing hipflasks…

November – we had Black Friday.  We had our first (very successful) Whisky tasting.  Boris talked of making Titanic efforts and Trump got in…

December – this is us, this is where we are, still, just about.  We celebrated our 6th Birthday we drank Champagne and we closed at 5pm on Christmas Eve.  You came and saw us, drank Champagne perhaps and kept us busy – thank you!

So that’s it.  A year referenced solely through our emails – I’m sure other things happened but if they didn’t make into the ‘Fellow Wine Lovers’ blog then they cannot have been too important…

Thank you for all your support through the year, especially those of you who raised Wayne’s sombrero to check he was still breathing in August – here’s to a wonderful New Year full of nice surprises and joy!

Carpe Diem, as a Cod might say in his best Brummie…

An Army of Dads

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A special hello to all of you who are still at your desks – we salute you!  If you’re pulling a late one or working tomorrow, then we not only salute you but we also play you a short fanfare.  If you’re working on Sunday, then you’re perhaps a footballer or a cabbie (but definitely not a train or tube driver), or an emergency worker or a publican – either way, a crucial cog in the Christmas wheel and, for this, we salute you, play a fanfare and raise a toast!

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you will be fully aware that we’re almost there, Christmas is upon us and that this is the penultimate email of 2016.  Next week we’ll give a round-up of the year but right now we will try, probably unsuccessfully, to be succinct in our prose…

Don’t panic!

Lance Corporal Jones had it in nutshell.  There’s still time.  The shops are still open.  A great number of them will be open on Monday.  We are open now until 8pm today and then tomorrow from 10am until 5pm.  7 hours of opening on Christmas Eve, 8 hours left today – 15 hours.  Masses of time, masses.

You stupid boy!

Having said that, as we get closer to ground zero, to 5pm tomorrow, there will be less and less stock in the shop as boots get filled and wish-lists get ticked off.  Just because we had 12 bottles of Krohn’s 2007 LBV on Monday doesn’t mean we have any left today (we don’t, the last bottle left yesterday) but we have plenty of Krohn’s 2011 LBV – £18.99 to replace it – another stellar vintage.  Don’t miss out – if you know you want it, don’t get caught out!

However, if you’ve been fruitless in your search for the right gift for that special person, don’t forget that we still have spaces left on our Wine School that starts on Wednesday 25th January and takes place for 6 of the next 7 weeks, with a week off for half term.  6 weeks, 60 wines, £150 per person – a gift that keeps on giving!  Full details attached.

They don’t like it up ’em!

Taking time off from being bossy and impertinent, something that has caught our eye, and subsequently made it water uncontrollably, has been Burgundy.  This time of year we sell a lot of red and white from this delightful region, their wines being almost perfect foils for much of the favoured festive foods.  At this time of year we also get invitations to early January tastings of newly released vintages – this time it’ll be 2015 release.  Wayne had a scoot through the various offerings earlier in the week and unearthed some scary, to us at least, facts.

Firstly, the drinking windows seemed remarkably short for the majority of the wines on offer, which means these are not wines for investment.  Secondly, the prices.  Now, Burgundy hasn’t had a great time of late with some atrocious weather conditions and lower yielding vintages.  Triumphing over such adversity hasn’t been easy, but thanks to a combination of smaller production and higher pricing,  ‘drinking’ Burgundy has gone through the stratosphere whilst ‘collecting’ Burgundy is somewhere near Mars.

On our shelf currently – Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 2012 (Tremblay) is £35.99 – the next release of Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 2015 (Billaud) will be circling around £60.  Puligny Montrachet 2013 (Miolane) is on our shelves for £35.99 – whilst the next release – Puligny Montrachet 2015 (Chavy) is a nice round £50.  On the collecting side, Domaine Leflaive is releasing the debut vintage for their Saint-Véran under the Domaine’s label – this will be about £35 on the shelf – gulp!

We could go on but it’s not going to cheer anyone up – might be time to look elsewhere.

Don’t tell him, Pike!

We’ll be opening wine as usual today and tomorrow.  As it’s Christmas, it’s a bit of a lottery really – we’ve been asked for wine matches for Carp, Pike and Herring from those customers who celebrate on Christmas Eve and Turkey, Reindeer and Rib of Beef for the Christmas day celebrators.  It’s hard to choose just one wine for such a smorgasbord, so we often sit on the fence.  This week, having visited France and Italy over the last few weeks, we’ve decided from our safe position, legs astride the barrier, to look at the new world a bit more closely.

But not before we open some English Fizz.  ‘We never list new wines in December’ is our stock response to any of our reps who try it on in late November.  But then Louisa emailed us to let us know that the Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé Brut NV (£36.99) had just been awarded a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge, the place Alex slopes off to every six months for some intensive, blind-judging.  Anyway, we used to sell the Brut from these chaps, so asked for a sample, which we proceeded to taste with a group of willing tipplers at our Wine & Cheese tasting.  It was gorgeous, so we listed it, and thus broke our ‘no new wines in December’ rule.  Come and try it, I think you’ll understand why!

And then we’re off to New Zealand and the USA.  Neudorf Chardonnay 2014 (£26.99) coming from Nelson in the South Island, this is really quite stunning – elegant, concentrated and rich, much like Wayne.

From the USA, we have Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2013 (£33.99) which is smooth, fruity, spicy with a little sultry smokiness, again, much like Wayne.  When we put on our Pinot Around The World And I Can’t Find My Favourite tasting earlier this year, this was the outright winner – no fence sitting there.

Port?  Why not.  Krohn’s 2011 LBV (£18.99) as mentioned above, will be opened and awaiting your glass, form an orderly queue.

Put that light out!

Not much more to add.  We’ll be here right up to the last knockings tomorrow – 5pm is our estimated turfing out time, although over the last six Christmas’ we have still had browsers in at 5.01… and then we’ll turn the lights back on next Thursday 29th December, just in time to write the next email!

So swing by, have a mince pie, some wine and port and let us wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Cheers!

‘Twas the Weekend before Christmas

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Friday 16th December, folks, and we’re into the final countdown (diddle-er-der, diddle-er-der-der, diddle-er-der…. etc) with just an armful of shopping days left until Christmas, a few more after that before New Year’s Eve and then, bosh, we’re bang smack in 2017 without a clue what to do.

Will prices go up?  Will the currencies behave?  Will prices then go down?  Will somebody break ranks and admit things have gone wrong due to their own incompetence rather than blame it on, the as yet un-actioned, Brexit?  Will we have guard-less trains on Southern Rail?  The big questions of today should finally have their answers, whether we like them is a different matter and, from what we have witnessed this year, these answers are likely to be in direct contradiction to those predicted!

To be honest, we’re a bit nervous of what the New Year will bring, tales of doom and gloom always sells more papers and the murmurings from the trade are no more positive.  To calm these nerves, Wayne likes to start his day with a soothing glass of Saliza Amaretto by Bepi Tosolini (£25.99) whilst Alex finds a quick half bottle of Moutard Grande Cuvée Champagne (£16.49) helps him maintain his famous effervescent bonhomie, until at least 11 o’clock – when we open, in other words…

By lunchtime, the effects of the restorative sherry at 11am (Equipo Navazos Fino en Rama – £10.99 for a half bottle), will have truly worn off, so it’s time for a glass of Burgundy.  It’s not oysters every day for lunch for us, so when we opt for some hand carved smoked salmon, we find the perfect foil comes in the guise of Talmard Macon Uchizy 2015 (£14.99).

It has long been advised that a post-prandial siesta is the secret to a long and happy life, or at the very least gives one a fighting chance of surviving the evening beyond 8pm, and we stay true to this advice as much as possible.  With the lunch slate now rubbed clean and the sun starting to move over the yardarm, the prospect of a ‘cheeky magnum’ as Wayne likes to call it, now looms into view.  What to have though?  Do we stay true to the classics and decant the Chateau Patache d’Aux 2009 from Medoc (£50.99) or do we throw our hat in the ring with those chaps in the new world and enjoy an oversize bottle of Meerlust Red 2014 from Stellenbosch (£26.99) – decisions, decisions….

And then it’s the Port.  Much maligned as the primary purveyor of hangovers, Port is often left on the shelf for another day.  We don’t need to drink a whole bottle – the colheitas and the tawny ports can be kept open for ages due to their style of aging, so a quick glass of Krohn Colheita 1982 (£44.99) tends to up our sugar levels, in time for the evening rush.

And then it’s all over, the customers have drifted off happily into the night and it’s time to close the shop.  With the array of choice here, and the different treats already supped, now must be time for the ultimate palate cleanser – Champagne.  With such a choice, we never lack variety in our glass, as we choose from (amongst others)

Champagne Thiénot £32.99, 3 for £90 or 6 for £164.96

Champagne Bollinger £45, or 6 for £200 (low stock)

 As we lock the shop up, tired from the days endeavours, we reflect that life isn’t so bad, next year can’t be that bad and if nothing else, live for today – or is that just the drink talking?!

‘Same time tomorrow, Wayne?’ ‘Same time tomorrow, Alex, have a nice evening.’

Talking of time…

SUNDAY 18th DECEMBER: 11AM – 3PM

MONDAY 19th – FRIDAY 23rd DECEMBER: 11AM – 8PM

SATURDAY 24th DECEMBER: 10AM – 5PM

 

SUNDAY 25th – WEDNESDAY 28th DECEMBER: CLOSED

 

THURSDAY 29th DECEMBER: 11AM – 8PM

FRIDAY 30th DECEMBER: 11AM – 8PM

SATURDAY 31st DECEMBER: 11AM – 6PM

 

SUNDAY 1st – TUESDAY 3rd JANUARY: CLOSED

 

WEDNESDAY 4th JANUARY: 11AM – 8PM BACK TO NORMAL!

Back in the real world…

Whilst it would be great fun to practice what we have preached, our days aren’t quite so action packed. However, there are possibly the seeds of a Christmas Day Drinks Template amongst the wines selected above – but perhaps not for everyone.  With this in mind, this weekend we will be opening:

Champagne Thiénot Brut NV(£32.99) One of the new kids on the block champagne wise, having been founded in 1985 but being owned by a former grape broker, they definitely get the pick of the bunch (sorry).  Deliciously rounded and with a nice bready note and the star selection at a recent tasting. Choice pour at the 2013 Oscars pre-show party, too.

M & B Talmard Macon Uchizy 2015 (£14.99) Mallory and Benjamin produce just one cuvée of Macon each year from their 20 hectares just north of the Macon hills.  Richer and riper than many, it has a generous weight, subtle, almost tropical fruit with aromas of melon, ripe pear, and all the other flavours you’ll notice when you pop in to taste!

Bouchard 1er Cru Beaune du Chateau 2012 (£29.99) this is wine from Bouchard’s own vines, and named after the family home, which the family have owned since 1820. Lovely red cherry fruits, a touch of that truffly, forest floor note, and a lively balance of fruit and structure on the palate. Perfect partner to poultry!

Chateau Les Mingets 2012, Sauternes (£11.99 37.5cl) where would be without an emergency half of Sauternes to call on? This is from Bommes in the heart of the region and is an absolute classic. Honey and apricot marmalade notes but with a beautiful citrus zest of acidity to balance the sweetness and keep everyone tidy.

Drop in for a mince pie and a taster!

Wayne & Alex

Dear Santa

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers, Dear Santa,

I hope you’ll forgive us for writing a joint letter, but we thought it would save you some time as you do have an awful lot of reading to do at this time of year, before you make all those deliveries.

We have been good boys nearly all year, being careful to avoid discussing North London football teams between ourselves without a neutral adult present.

Alex has very kindly laughed at Wayne’s jokes, even the ones he’s been hearing on a weekly basis for about ten years.

Wayne has patiently listened to all the golf speak, without, he hopes, letting on that he has no clue what is really going on in the game.

We’ve been looking at what everyone would like for Christmas, and as we are in charge of the keyboard they have asked us to ask you.

Chateau Patache d’Aux Magnum 2009 (£50.99) for Frank, he’s always thirsty and likes a good vintage of claret.

Hepple Gin (£38) for Auntie Vicki, and some of that fabulous Saliza Amaretto (£25.99) for Christine.

Bryan would like a box of Thiénot Champagne please (£32.99 or 6 for £164.96) as he has to buy some gifts for his team and it is in a gift box and was delicious when he tasted it last week.

Karen wondered if she could have Rully 1er Cru Marissou 2011 (£19.99) whilst there is still some left.

Lynn would like some Krohn LBV 2007 (£18.99) as her book club is reading a book about Portugal and it should make a nice change from the usual.

Could you get Rudolph to train some delivery drivers so that they don’t arrive very late with mouthfuls of bad words at almost closing time?

Uncle Rowley would love Amarone della Valpolicella to sip in his armchair. Either Montresor 2013 (£28.99) or the Tedeschi 2012 (£34.99) would be fun, but both would be better!

Uncle Steve spent a long time ‘abroad’ and only eats T-Bone steak, so perhaps a Malbec from Angulo Innocenti 2013(£18.99) will put him in his happy place.

Daddy would like the Southern trains to work so that his supper isn’t cold all the time.

All the cousins have been in Scotland agitating for independence, so one of these malts apiece would be ideal:

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)

 

Donald has just got a new job and would like some cocktail ingredients “just to shake things up a little” so we think the By The Dutch Orange Bitters (£8.99) should do the trick there.

 

Wayne would like a bottle of Le Corti Chianti Classico 2013 (£17.99) convinced it will be delicious with goose and impressed with Tre Bicchieri from the Gambero Rosso.

 

Alex meanwhile would love a Maxime Trijol VSOP Cognac (£48) to share with his dad. They both love the idea that it beat a couple of the really famous XO in competition and is half the price.

 

To make things easy for you Fellow Wine Lovers Santa, you can buy all of this at Park Vintners in Arthur Road without having to wait for all those couriers. They even take Amex, and if you’ve registered with #shopsmall there are some advantages to be had.

 

They also have tastings at the weekend…

 

Champagne Tarlant Brut Nature (£39.99) is a wine that Alex has been nagging Wayne about for ages. A family owned champagne house currently run by the 12th generation, the wine is a blend if 1/3 each Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, based mostly on the 2008 vintage with some reserve wine added and a long lees maturation (over 6 years). The result is a delicious, rounded and complex wine with a really good finish.

 

Latitude 41 Moutere Chardonnay 2014 (£20.99) is a wine that we only discovered very recently. A deliciously creamy wine, with citrus and ripe apple/stonefruit character. Very good partner for some roast poultry, if I may be so bold.

 

Chianti Classico Le Corti 2013 (£17.99) will be showing off its credentials in the red corner. Awarded Tre Bicchieri by the Gambero Rosso, the magazine of the slow food movement, and Wayne’s suggestion for a goosey partner. Come and see if any of them have the same palate as you!

 

We think that’s all from us Santa, we’ll leave Rudolph out some carrots (unless you think he might like biltong and Brussel sprouts?) and we’ll leave you a mince pie and a glass of Pedro Ximénez Colosía (£15.99). Mummy calls it Santa’s sports drink – I do hope she’s left some!

 

Promise again that we’ve been good,

 

Alex & Wayne

Big Mac’s & Brunello

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Forty nine years ago a chap came up with the idea of doubling the lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and beef patties in one burger.  There was the special sauce too, and the Big Mac was born, creating a lasting impression on McDonalds and now sold in over 100 countries worldwide.  That chap was Jim Delligatti, who passed away this week, aged 98.

Thanks Jim, for your culinary contribution, but what would you drink with a Big Mac?  Clearly Cola, or a shake will have their fans, and I’m sure an argument could be made for a nice, hoppy pale ale, perhaps but what wine would you choose?  Wayne quite likes the idea of a Brunello di Montalcino, that rich dark ripe cherry fruit being a decent foil, whilst Alex is thinking more southern hemisphere, with Pulenta Estate’s Gran Corte, a richly fruited Malbec blend from the lofty Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza.  So what would you drink with yours?

Elsewhere, Gareth Southgate has been announced as the England manager.  It would appear the last 4 games were just a rehearsal.  He has stated he is keen to make up for the 1996 Euros and he knows that there is a “time and a place for a beer”.  Clearly not after a penalty shoot-out!

 Free Beer!

American Express launches their ShopSmall campaign on Saturday.  It runs from the 3rd to the 18th December and is designed to encourage all you Amex card holders to shop with small businesses like us.  Or, as Amex puts it: Shop Small from 3 December right up to 18 December 2016 and every time you spend £10 or more on your Card in a single transaction at a participating small business, you’ll get a £5 credit on your statement.  I reckon that’s the equivalent to a bottle of beer or two don’t you? Terms and conditions are bound to apply, you’ll need to register your card and full details are here: https://www.amexshopsmall.co.uk/shop-small-for-shoppers/

 Champagne and Birthdays

As long term readers may remember we like to fill December with birthdays and bubbles.  We kicked the month off yesterday with one of each, so thanks to everyone who came along and made the evening such fun, apologies for Wayne’s singing.

Those of you who didn’t manage to get along though, do not despair.

It is our birthday this weekend (WE ARE SIX!) so tradition dictates that we open a bottle of bubbly on Saturday.  We shall be opening Champagne Thiénot Brut NV (£32.99) a delicious drop that we thought was drinking particularly nicely when we opened a bottle at Wine School recently.

As you know, we offer six bottles for the price of five on most of our fizz and champagne.

For this weekend only, we’ll also offer the Thiénot on a three bottle deal of 3 bottles for £90 for those of you who’d prefer not to buy a box of six.

Port

We’ve chatted with several of you over time about the differing styles of port.  We will be opening a bottle of the Kopke Colheita 1964 (£150).  A very rare but really rather lazy beast.  Rare because there really isn’t very much of it about, really lazy because all it has done since 1964 is laze around in barrels getting fabulous.  If you’re lucky, Alex won’t have drunk it all before lunch.

Wine School

Several of you have asked and yes, a gift voucher for Wine School is available.  Dates and full details attached.

Tasting This Weekend

The red corner this week will be inhabited by Château Fourcas Dupré 2006, Listrac-Medoc (£23.99) a delicious claret from the Pages family, who we feel have producing great, undervalued claret for a good number of years now.

Wearing the white shorts this week will be Uitkyk Chenin Blanc 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa (£12.99).  The name of Uitkyk (look out) is most appropriate given its situation on the southwestern slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain looking across to Table Mountain in the distance.  The estate’s neo-classical manor house, completed in 1788 is one of the only three 18th century, double story, flat roofed, Georgian style houses left in the country.  But enough National Trust-like guff, this is a cracking drop of wine.  Part barrel-fermented using wild yeasts, it has a touch of vanillin and candied apple notes on the nose.  Once in the mouth we are treated to lovely crisp fruit characters supported by that gentle spice from the oak, and with a lovely lingering finish.  Yum!

That’s it from us for now, I’m off to the Golden Arches with my bottle of Brunello!

Whisky, Rully & Roero

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Can you believe that in a month’s time it’ll all be over.

Right now, Wayne will be sitting in his matching Christmas Cardigan and Cravat Combo, lighting his Christmas cigar and embarking on his second glass of port, whilst his poor wife labours over the Brussels sprouts and turkey, again.  Alex, on the other hand will be knee deep in rage and wrapping paper, desperately trying to wrap up presents that are destined to be unwrapped again five minutes later and wondering to himself, a) why hasn’t he done this earlier; b) why doesn’t he ever buy regular shaped gifts without sharp edges; and c) will anyone notice if he opens that bottle of champagne, NOW!

Yep, only 30 sleeps to go, folks and today is the official start of the silly season.  Black Friday, blackeye day, potentially, has arrived and with it a host of junk mail and once in a lifetime deals.  All week our computers have been running slower, due to the amount of spam offers we are receiving from AVG, who provide our antivirus stuff and should frankly know better.  Sticking a big banner across the bottom quarter of my screen is not going to make me suddenly upgrade Mr AVG, it’s more likely to make a McAfee of me!  Great Western Railway, lastminute, Your Golf Travel, Wiggle, Virgin Trains East Coast, Costco, London Duathlon, Chemist Direct, Golf Deals Group, 3 different golf clubs south of London (one of which I’ve never played!), South Devon Chilli Farm, Carphone Warehouse – all of these sent me emails yesterday offering some sort of Black Friday deal.  However, all it really did was to confirm what I already feared – if you examine my purchasing history over the last year, it is pedestrian to say the least – golf, trainspotting and some glucosamine – next year I want to receive offers from skydiving and safari companies, from Champagne houses and from sunseeker.com!

Back in the real world for now, and away from the internet, we’ve had a pretty productive week.  Tuesday saw Alex putting his tooth enamel to the test as he did some more judging at the International Wine Challenge – lots of young, new world wines apparently, and some from Turkey too.  Then, on Wednesday, we had our first ever spirits tasting – a Whisky tasting in fact, with big Ed Cotton from Gordon & MacPhail.  It was brilliant.  What was threatening to be a raucous evening filled with singing and subversion was in fact really quite studious and engaged – clearly Ed has the sufficient gravitas that we lack!

We tasted the following all of which were showing brilliantly –

Speymalt from Macallan 2006 – £37.99

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 – £38.99

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 – £42.99

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 – £45.99

Ardmore 1996 – £72.99

The Arran and Strathmill were deliciously soft and supple and almost aperitif-y in style whilst the Ardmore and Caol Ila showed far more structure and power.  And the Macallan – that just did what Macallan always does so well!  We still have open bottles of Speymalt, Arran, Strathmill and a drop of Caol Ila should you wish to pop by and have a taste – funnily enough the Ardmore (the most expensive) got finished on the night!

If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!  How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!

I know, I know, we don’t need no education etc etc, but, should you decide to buck this trend, we have a half-filled Wine School taking place in the early part of next year.  We can promise lots of wine and no dark sarcasm in the classroom.  Full details are attached but, for those unable to open attachments, the most important details are that it starts on Wednesday 25th January through to Wednesday 8th March and costs £150 per person.  Christmas gift, perhaps?

Rully & Roero

Sadly, this is not the name of the new winebar opening in place of Bar Estella, the main reason for this being that Estella is still there, staring emptily into the street, yearning for some TLC.  No, in fact, Rully and Roero are the names of the two wines we are tasting this weekend.

We’ve chosen these two because they appeal to our sense of contrariness.  The Roero is a white wine made by a man, Bruno Giacosa, far more famous for his red wines, particularly his stunning Barbaresco’s and Barolo’s.  The Rully is a red wine from a part of Burgundy often more associated with white wines – see what we did there?

Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2015 – £21.99

Celine et Vincent Dureuil Rully 1er Cru ‘Champs Cloux’ 2013 – £25.99

Come in and taste them at your leisure although if you want a leisurely taste I suggest you avoid late afternoon – Christ the King is lighting up its Christmas tree and carols will be sung at 4.15pm tomorrow so it will be quite busy round here at that time!

Another week with no mention of sport – where’s Alex gone?

 

Thankful

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we had a look at our calendar and noticed that Thanksgiving is almost upon us. This got us pondering on the things we might be thankful for.

We started off by being thankful we weren’t Wayne Rooney. Poor guy plays a game of footy,  has a couple of ales later on, gets an impromptu invite to a wedding, and basically just carries on playing. Before he can say congratulations to the lovely couple, the press are all over him like a cheap suit. We couldn’t help but think he was just being human.

We’re thankful that when researching this email, Google searching with the words “cheese makes you…” gave us the top four options of: dream, happy, fart and taller!

We’re thankful to the team at Nature Medicine for even entertaining the idea that eating cheese could be good for us.  http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nm.4222.html

We’re thankful that our chums in New Zealand are all ok and in fine fettle. We may have been more thankful if they’d lost our invoice in a crack in the road with all the missing homework.

We’re thankful that we’re not the poor lady who sadly had to cancel her birthday Champagne tasting last night due to illness. Get well soon and we’ll all celebrate then!

We’re thankful not to be England’s bowlers, now that Virat Kohli has found his mojo.

We’re thankful that Wimbledon is staying on the BBC till 2024, and would be ever so thankful if we get lucky in the ballot. Nudge, nudge!

Always thankful that we’re not turkeys.

We’re definitely thankful that Alex had a day off and Wayne snuck some fine Brunello di Montalcino into the building. Brunello di Montalcino 2010 by Sesti £65.

“Sesti’s 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is a wine of real class and personality. In fact, the 2010 is one of the best wines I have tasted from this estate in Sant’Angelo in Colle. Iron, sweet red cherries, wild flowers and earthiness are some of the many notes that inform a juicy, plump Brunello that already drinks well. The 2010 is quite forward and fruit-driven, but there is good underlying complexity as well as enough acidity to ensure a decade-plus of fine drinking. My only quibble is that the aromatics could be a little more focused, but that is a relatively small critique for a wine that delivers this much pleasure. 94/100” Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, February 2015

“Wonderful aromas of dried flowers and fruit. Hints of mushrooms and earth. Full body, ripe and juicy fruit and a berry, spice and cherry aftertaste. Delicious now. Why wait? 94/100” James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, January 2015

Not to mention a cheeky parcel of Chateau Musar 2003 (£26.99).

“The lush texture and surprising richness make this a rather luscious wine by Musar standards. It is showing little but baby fat right now. Fresh and youthful, it is just a friendly puppy today. I’m not so sure it is in the winery’s preferred style, but it should be a very enjoyable vintage for consumers. Showing not a trace of age, it has a lot of potential and a long life ahead. It may yet be entitled to further upticks in score, but let’s be a bit conservative at the moment. Drink now-2035. 91/100” Mark Squires – erobertparker.com #207 Jun 2013

Wine School

The perfect gift for that difficult to buy for wine lover in your family. Six weeks, somewhere around sixty wines tasted including sweet, red white and bubbly. £150 per person full details attached.

As I mentioned above, Thanksgiving rears its head on Thursday. We’re not entirely sure what we’re thankful for in this case, but we’ve never been the type to let the news get in the way of a party.

Tasting This Weekend

So in honour of turkey, sweet potatoes and general North American feasting, we shall be opening some tasty wines from California. The white corner will be featuring Morning Fog Chardonnay by Wente Family Vineyards (£13.99). This hails from Livermore Valley at the back of San Francisco Bay, which may just give you a clue as to where the name comes from!

Red corner is definitely Zinfandel territory this week, Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel (£12.99). This one hails from Lodi, long time a source of great Zinfandels, and where Rudi Maggio planted his first vines in 1954.

Music selection for this week “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” William DeVaughn.

Thankfully, that’s it from us this week.

God bless America

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, that knocks Brexit into a cocked hat!  Who knew?  POTUS – Possibility of Trump Upsetting Someone?  The world has gone to hell in a handcart this year and frankly we should have realised that Donny T would end up in the egg shaped office as soon as the poll of polls told us he definitely wouldn’t and with the odds at 9/2 just before the voting started, how did we not see the writing on the wall.

Speaking of walls and of odds, here are a couple of current bets being offered on Paddy Power:

  • Trump to build wall covering entirety of US-Mexican border before end of 2020  – 4/1
  • Trump to be successfully impeached before end of 2020 – 8/1
  • Trump to turn the White House gold – 66/1

And to win the 2020 Presidential Election:

  • Trump – 11/10
  • Michelle Obama – 8/1
  • Hillary Clinton  – 12/1
  • Jeb Bush  – 40/1
  • Kanye West – 90/1
  • Chelsea Clinton – 100/1
  • Kevin Spacey – 150/1
  • Kim Kardashian – 275/1

Plenty of opportunities to lose some money there – trying to imagine what Kim Kardashian’s manifesto might be…. extremely wealthy with no political experience and an ability to annoy people, surely that should make her unelectable?  Oh, hang about….

So, anyway, as you can imagine, we’ve been a bit distracted by the if’s, what’s and maybe’s of the events in America this week so haven’t formed a sensible opinion on Toblerone-gate, given thought to Prince Harry’s love life or critiqued the new John Lewis Christmas advert – apologies.

Meanwhile, back in Wimbledon Park…

We’ve been tasting, tasting, tasting.  A whole load of wine has been sniffed, swirled and spat (in our case) or swallowed (in your case) this week.

Wednesday night saw Week 6, the final week, of our Wine School, which saw us opening 10 bottles of bubbles, including Prosecco, Cava, English Sparkling and, of course, Champagne.  Star of the night was the 2002 Cuvée Alain Thiénot – £75 showing fabulous caramel, brandy snap and toffee apple character with a deliciously soft mousse.  Once the hubbub had died down over the price, we had explained the scarcity of this excellent vintage and the fact that most other houses start north of £100, its #1 status was confirmed.  A close second, and perhaps more wallet friendly, was Leveret IQ3 NV – £20.99, showing lots of luscious lees character, a real apple strudel and cream character with an elegant and long finish.  And at the end of the night we released 10 newly qualified wine drinkers into the cold night air, free to indulge their palates and explore the nether regions of the wine list!

Last night was Wine & Cheese.  You’d have thought that, having hosted over 40 of these evenings, we’d be like a well-oiled machine and have all the answers and the perfect matches.  Sadly this is still not true, whilst occasionally well-oiled, we definitely do not have all the answers but I think that is half the fun.  Wine was excellent, cheese was very tasty and a very good time was had by all.  Who knew that dry Amontillado sherry would be such a fabulous cheese match?

All our tastings are now full up until the end of the year but if you fancy learning more about wine in the New Year, why not join our next wine school.

Who is this course aimed at?

You!  We assume you have tasted wine and enjoyed it enough to come along and explore further. Our course is aimed at the enthusiastic beginner.

What’s our goal?

Our course is designed to give you an excellent opening to the world of wine. Based entirely around what you taste, the course will give you the confidence to trust your palate, understand the characteristics of the main grape varieties and to explore new styles and varieties.  We keep the size of the group small, between 8-12 people, to allow for discussion.

What will we cover?

We cover all the classic grape varieties with styles from both the Old and New World.  Some of the wines are shown “blind”, so that you learn to trust your judgement based on the taste of the wine rather than what it says on the label.  We will show you how to evaluate and assess quality, discuss wine production methods as well as the wine’s acidity, tannins and flavour. On our journey we shall cover ageing potential, wine and food matching, wine storage conditions and, importantly, wine faults.

Weeks 1-3

We’ll show you how to taste wine and cover the main white varieties along with a couple off-the-beaten-track selections.

Weeks 4 & 5

We’ll cover the classic red varieties as well as a few lesser known varieties.

Week 6

This week is all about bubbles. Sparkling wines from around the world, alongside several styles of Champagne.

You will taste 8 to 10 wines each week and we will even manage to sneak in a little pudding wine and perhaps a rosé somewhere amongst that lot!

What venue?

The course takes place in the shop after we close. We put out the tasting table, pull up some chairs and get stuck in.  Our courses are relaxed and about enjoying wine and sharing knowledge.

When?

Wednesday evenings from 8 till about 9.45 for six weeks, over a period of seven weeks whilst we deal with half term, starting Wednesday 25th January until Wednesday 8th March.

What do I bring?

Just yourself! We’ll provide everything you need… notes, pens, paper, water biscuits and wine.

Cost – £150.00

Meanwhile, back in the here and now…

If you can’t wait until January to taste wine, we’ll open some tonight for you instead!

A couple of party wines this week: from Chile we have Oyster Shack Chardonnay 2014 – £7.49 and from Romania we have Calusari Pinot Noir 2015 – £8.69.  Probably useful to point out here that if you are having a party we can lend you glasses, supply ice, deliver and also provide you with a discount of 10% of twelve bottles or more!

That’s all from us this week and we’ll finish with a quote, which could be attributed to Wayne, commenting on Alex’s working practices, but is actually one made by a previous employee of DT:

“I cannot imagine him doing a job where he doesn’t just pick and choose what he wants to do, where if he feels like coming in he comes in, and if he feels like going to a meeting he goes to a meeting.”

God bless America.

Guy Fawkes, Kings Ginger and Wine School

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

My daughter hasn’t eaten a proper meal since Monday lunchtime, or at least that’s how it feels.  However, she has certainly eaten Love Hearts, Maoam’s, Parma Violets, countless lollipops and too many funsize Mars/Snickers/Twix.  My son had a binge on Sour Patch Kids but then felt sick.  And my saintly wife has been surviving on lettuce and dried bread, never once dipping her hand into the gargantuan bowl of child size sweets.

Isn’t Halloween great?

And now we are in the midst of Guy Fawke’s fever/fervour.  As one of our customers pointed out earlier, in this super-sensitive politically correct environment we inhabit, it’s quite amazing that we are allowed to celebrate, and indeed celebrate quite so vigorously, a foiled catholic plot that took place over 400 years ago!  But celebrate we do, by lighting a bonfire and setting off fireworks – ironic considering these are exactly the things that the plotters failed to do.

Remember, remember the 5th November, although if you wanted to see fireworks in Wimbledon Park, they were held last night, bizarrely, as opposed to Saturday…

Back in the modern day another plot has been foiled, if only temporarily, as the High Court rules that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU.  Talking of Brexit, a much quoted line from The Spectator’s Parliamentarian of the Year awards on Wednesday evening, whilst receiving an award for Comeback of the Year:

In the words of our great prime minister… I understood that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it

Isn’t Boris great?

Meanwhile, a small wine merchant in Wimbledon Park….

… has been continuing about its business whilst trying not to uspet anyone or get caught up in any plotting.  We’d like to confirm that the darker afternoons and colder mornings are not of our doing – if we had our way it would be shorts and t-shirts 24/7/365 – but we have plenty of Whisky and Gin and King’s Ginger and Amaretto and Kummel open to taste all the time to keep our cockles warmed when required, so pop in on your way past if you feel chilly.

We’ve taken delivery of more wines with a distinctly festive feel, sometimes more traditionally described as wines from Bordeaux, and we’re getting quite excited about how things are shaping up.  Latest arrivals (just today in fact) are

Chateau Corbin 2010, Montagne Saint-Emilion£19.99  – 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – the winemaker has spent some time in Australia so he likes a bit of ripeness and so we have nice bright fruit, plums and damsons here.  Really fresh and a bit broader on the palate with quite delicious and softened tannins on the finish.

Chateau Haut Ferrand 2009, Pomerol – £43.99 – 60% Merlot 40% Cab Franc – a beautiful nose, showing the ripeness of the vintage and a very smooth palate – extremely delicious and very habit forming.  Smooth, ripened soft blackberry fruits perhaps even some background hints of strawberry.  Proper wine.

Chateau Relais de la Poste 2012, Cotes de Bourg – £18.49 – known as Cuvee Malbec.  This has deliciously dark blackcurrant fruit, appealing with a hint of violet too, and is frankly really tasty but with a bit more weight and juice than a normal Bordeaux.  Unusual to be 100% Malbec and thus, very interesting.

Smooth palate, plums and damsons, fresh and broad – what are you on about?

If you want to know what we’re on about and fancy learning how to write tasting notes as erudite as Wayne’s then the Park Vintners Wine School is the place for you!

School starts again in the New Year – Wednesday January 25th 2017 to be precise, at 8pm, to be even more accurate.  It will then proceed on a weekly basis until Wednesday 8th March – a break for half term will be taken on the week containing Wednesday 15th February.  You’ll taste around 60 wines, you’ll learn lots of clever wine terms to use at dinner parties and you’ll get a thorough grounding in the key grape varieties plus a foray into the exciting grapes that sometimes hide in the shadows.

The course costs £150 per person and full details are attached to this email.

If you can’t wait until January…

… then come and taste some wines with us this weekend.  We’ve finished #ShopRioja now so will be leaving Spain for a bit.  How about a quick trip to Argentina …

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2014, Mendoza, Argentina – £12.99 Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes. This is a lovely crisp yet full bodied Chardonnay with a good finish.

And…

Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2013, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina – £25.99 “Bright ruby-red. Pure, vibrant aromas of blackberry, blueberry and mint. A smooth, densely packed midweight with noteworthy inner-mouth tension and lift to the flavors of dark berries and violet. There’s something a bit Syrah-like about this very fresh, juicy, long Malbec. Has the strength of character to evolve slowly but this is already easy to appreciate. Drink 2016-2023. Score – 91.”  (Stephen Tanzer, vinous.com, Jan. 2015)

That’s all from us this week.  By next week we’ll know the next POTUS – scarily it’s now shaping up to be a bit of a nailbiter!

Cheers,