Archive for the ‘general’ Category

If chocolate wildlife is not really your bag and your pleasures are more commonly derived from the contents of your glass then read on…

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As this email is arriving on Thursday that can only mean that the season of eggs and rabbits is now upon us.  Four days off work, with the biggest Christian festival in the middle of it all.  No commute until Tuesday at the earliest (or Wednesday if you work here, but more about that later) and intervals of sunshine and clouds, with perhaps a shower in the area in the afternoon, predicted for most points of the weekend.

However, if like us, you like to edit out the boring bits of life, the previous sentence will have read ‘intervals of sunshine predicted for most of the weekend’, which means that when we’re not puzzling the relationship between chocolate eggs, bunnies and the resurrection of JC, we shall be found in the garden, barbecuing and bottle opening.

Chocolate eggs?  Google it.

There’s loads of stories out there relating to the egg: that it represents the tomb the Christ burst from; that during Lent eggs weren’t allowed to be consumed which resulted in a glut of eggs come Easter; that Mary Magdalene had eggs in her basket that turned red on Christ’s return… but chocolate eggs?  That’s a Quaker thing apparently.  Notably. some Bristolian Quaker’s named Fry, who not only developed the first chocolate bar, Turkish Delight and Peppermint Cream but also were the first people to produce Chocolate Easter Eggs back in 1873.  Dinner party trivia fact #1.

Easter bunnies?  Google this too.

Lots of differing stories here too.  Rabbits symbolise spring and prolific fertility?  A German tradition, brought to America in the 18th century, involving an egg laying hare?  Disney?  Apparently in Switzerland they don’t have an Easter bunny, they have a cuckoo.  But then Lindt, the Swiss chocolate makers, are famous for their golden Easter bunny.  I’m confused.  This could be used as dinner party fact #2 but be wary….

If chocolate wildlife is not really your bag and your pleasures are more commonly derived from the contents of your glass then don’t fret, we will now start talking about liquid refreshments for the weekend.

A couple of weeks back we visited a darkened room in Soho for a tasting, which nowadays doesn’t evoke nearly as much innuendo or hasty explanation to the missus as it might have done 20 years ago.  Anyway, once we’d established what used to be in different streets in Soho, and how Berwick Street used to have a great veg and fruit market and how the Greek barber that dad used to visit now seemed to be a coffee shop and ooh I remember when that was a really good little dive bar…. anyway, once we’d done all that, we entered the darkened tasting room.  Darkened tasting rooms are as much use as chocolate teapots, since tasting is ideally a fully sensory experience, primarily through nose and mouth but it can be helpful to see what colour the liquid is that you are tasting, as you can imagine.  But we cracked on, blind tasting in many respects and finished quite quickly, unless we missed something in the penumbra.  In fact we nearly did.  As we were leaving we noticed one bottle noticeably closer to a candle, with a bright yellow label that was dazzling in the half light.  That looks cool, we thought, wonder what it is?  Let’s try it.

So we did and we were smitten.  Bonal Gentiane-Quina – £14.99 was the name and neither of us had had it before.  Made close to the French Alps, this is a fortified wine which they have infused with gentian and cinchona and a few other interesting herbs.  It’s been around since 1865 so clearly we are late into the game but now we are definitely playing.  It feels like a posh red vermouth given a bit of a boost – classically amaro with prunes, sultanas, citrus and the instantly recognisable quinine kick of the cinchona.  The maestro at Hepple Gin tasted some with us recently and insisted on making it into a long drink with tonic water – and it absolutely sung!  Think along the lines of Pimm’s but not so sweet – this will be our go to aperitif all summer long!!

If however you don’t fancy spirits, we’ll be opening wine this evening and all the way through to Saturday.  For the white we thought we’d celebrate the return of the Boeckel Pinot Blanc 2015 – £13.79.  Alex has always rattled on about Pinot Blanc but often I have found it difficult to share his enthusiasm.  However these chaps have nailed it.  Gently floral on the nose as you’d expect and the palate is crisp with citrus and orchard fruit notes, a central vein of minerality and a lively, crisp finish.  Perfect with your Good Friday fish supper!

In the red chair we welcome a new South African to the fold: Bonfire Hill Extreme Vineyards 2014 – £11.59.  For those of you who have always pondered what would happen if Shiraz, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Barbera and Cinsault all ended up in the same bottle, well here’s your answer.  Lovely red summer fruits with a touch of herby hillside toasting in the sunshine.  Rich, balanced plums and pepper character and frankly just really nice to drink…

That’s almost it from us this weekend apart from a couple of bits of admin.

Upcoming Tastings

Friday 21st April – FREE TASTING – LAZOS, MENDOZA

We’ve got Juan Manuel, our new Argentine importer in for a bit of pouring – he’ll be opening 3 wines from the Lazos range which really hit the mark – as always on a Friday, the wines will be open from about 5.30pm onwards so pop in on your way home

Friday 9th June – FREE TASTING – LITTLE BIRD GIN

Lovely Laura from Little Bird will be in the shop, pouring her Gin and talking a lot, both of which are well worth paying attention to!  Again, 5.30pm onwards…

Thursday 22nd  June – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20 each

Cheese and wine, wine and cheese, sounds great whichever way you put it!  4 cheeses, more wines, taste, comment and repeat – simple and more interesting than going to the gym on a Thursday…

Thursday 20th July – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20 each

As above – this will be the last one until September, you have been warned!

Opening Hours

As mentioned earlier, it’s a funny old weekend this one and we have the funny old working hours to support this:

Thursday 13th April – NORMAL HOURS – 11am – 8pm

Friday 14th April – ODD HOURS – 11am – 4pm

Saturday 15th April – ODD HOURS – 10am – 3pm

Sunday 16th April – Tuesday 18th April – NO HOURS – CLOSED

Wednesday 19th April – NORMAL HOURS – 11am – 8pm

That’s it from us for now, have a fabulous weekend wherever you may roam!

Perspiration and Rose

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Horses sweat, men perspire, but women merely glow.

A phrase that encapsulates almost everything that has and will happen this week.

Tomorrow is the first date of the ‘Liverpool Season’, when the great and the good of Merseyside, the footballers, the popstars and  the scallies, will descend on Aintree to revel in the sunshine, sporting high heels, fake tan, fascinators and bright white smiles – and that’s just Alan Hansen…

But has the Grand National lost its pizzazz?  We’re not talking about fences getting smaller or ditches shorter (which may, or may not, increase the chances of all horses getting around) but actually about the sponsor.  Below is the list of companies who have seen the National as a good reason to shell out a few quid for some good promotion and telly-time:

  • From 1984 to 1991 Canadian spirits monolith and Oddbins owner, Seagram Distillers sponsored the event – plenty of top notch drinks available
  • From 1991 to 2004 Seagram handed sponsorship over to the French cognac producer Martell, one of their subsidiaries, which meant that quality drinking was still on the agenda
  • John Smith’s took over for the period from 2005 to 2013 – a slightly underwhelming bitter brand but at least you could still get a pint
  • Crabbie’s became the main sponsor of the festival in 2014 until 2016 – Crabbie’s are perhaps most famous for their very sweet, alcoholic ginger beer – more a drink for brown paper bags and students but at least some sort of refreshment was available
  • And now, for 2017? Randox Health.  Doesn’t sound terribly boozy to us and in fact is a “global innovative healthcare company” that provides health checks from its clinics in Northern Ireland and London.  They don’t produce refreshments…

So, if you end up watching the race at 1715 tomorrow, raise a glass of something please and drink to bygone sponsors and the times a-changin’.

If you want tips for the race, here goes: my wife reckons that any horse with green in the name (in any language), or silks that have green in them, or a jockey called Verdant Evergreen, or a horse that has ever stood on anything green stands a decent each way chance – any bets on her favourite colour?  My daughter, logically, will go for the one with the longest legs, which involves some serious research and understanding of ‘hands’ which is beyond both of us really but, as she is the most successful punter in the house, we do pay her some heed.  My son takes the long game and is buttering us all up, with a view that if any of us win he potentially stands to benefit.  Wayne has a system – ask no more.  For me, Saphir du Rheu or The Young Master but I can’t tell you why because I don’t know why the pin ended up there!

So that’s the bit about horses sweating and ladies glowing done – what about men perspiring?

Today, we took delivery of the 2016 vintage of Chateau de L’Aumerade Cuvee Marie Christine Provence Rose.   It was a pallet, 80 cases, 480 bottles – however you want to put it, it was hot work shifting a large part of it downstairs and by the end of it we were perhaps perspiring a little but we were not sweating and in fact we were probably glowing pink.  Anyway the important news, of course, is that it’s here.  If it now rains nonstop until October you can lay the blame squarely at our door but we would ask that you still join in and pretend it’s summer and drink pink.  It won’t persistently rain until October, of course; in fact, if it only rains between midnight and 4am for the next 5 months that would be the perfect storm….

Anyway, back to the wine. We tasted this about a month ago, alongside Miraval and Whispering Angel.  For the second year running we were underwhelmed by the Angel; the Miraval is lighter and drier than the previous vintage and almost defines elegance; yet again the Aumerade, with a bit more fruit than the other two, was our absolute go-to summer Rosé – you will not be disappointed!

Due to the wind being in the right direction and our razor sharp negotiating skills of course, we will be offering the same price as last year and the year before – £13.99 per bottle or 6 bottles for £72 -for those of you with an eye to many evenings of outside drinking.  So if we do the maths, the first 80 customers will get their 6 box for £72 and we’ll have to order another pallet on Monday – form an orderly queue!

If you’re not fancying the pink stuff yet then perhaps we can entice you with the wines we have on tasting this weekend.

Ciù Ciù Merlettaie Pecorino 2015, Offida, Italy – £13.99

This wine is not made of cheese, Pecorino is a grape variety originally from the Abruzzo.  A pleasant floral nose with clean, pleasing and refined aromas of banana, broom, apple, hazelnut and plum followed by a hint of vanilla.  The mouth follows the nose, a slightly round attack however balanced, agreeable crispness, good body and intense flavours.  We first had Pecorino in 2005 when it first came into the market over here and frankly are quite surprised it hasn’t become a chart topper, however that does mean there’s more for us and our friends!

Le Malbec 2014, Pays d’Oc, France – £11.99

We’ve been showing a lot of Argentine Malbec of late so we thought we’d return to the motherland for a change.  Malbec came from France and thrives in the Loire, Cahors, is being replanted in Bordeaux and further south.  This is from the Languedoc and has been a persistent favourite with many of our customers.  Not as punchy as those from Argentina or indeed Cahors, this has softer more perfumed fruit and is dangerously drinkable but not in a Crabbie’s way….

In other news – we now have very funky MINI bottles of Prosecco for £4 a hit – they’re in the beer fridge because that’s where they felt most comfortable.  Pocketsize, even for the smallest of pockets.

It’s Easter weekend next weekend and as with the rest of the world, we’ll be keeping some pretty funny hours:

Thursday 13th April – NORMAL HOURS – 11am – 8pm

Friday 14th April – ODD HOURS – 11am – 4pm

Saturday 15th April – ODD HOURS – 1oam – 3pm

Sunday 16th April – Tuesday 18th April – NO HOURS – CLOSED

Wednesday 19th April – NORMAL HOURS – 11am – 8pm

And that’s all folks, come and buy a little Prosecco bottle and sup it whilst queuing for your 6 box of Rosé!!

The Times Are A Changin’

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Is it me or was that just a bit of a damp squib? I can’t but help feel a little deflated, if I’m honest. All the talking, the hot air generated, endless column inches and handwringing. Angry people, happy people, playing-my-cards-close-to-my-chest people, and that’s not evening mentioning the ‘not-in-my-name’ people.

But there it is folks, Things Have Changed; we’ll be wearing no more Boots of Spanish Leather, there’s talk that A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall and we’ll all end up on Desolation Row. Those of us who thought we’d be Forever Young on the Costa Blanca till we were Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door have seen our dreams Blowin’ in the Wind.

In case you haven’t worked it out yet, Bob Dylan has finally decided to accept his Nobel Prize. Like a Rollin’ Stone he will be pitching up in Sweden and playing a couple of concerts in Stockholm over the weekend when he collects it.

In other news, something called Article 50 has been triggered and created a bit of a hoo-haa. We’re not entirely sure what it’s about, or what the effect of article 48 or 49 may have been.

Just when you thought politics couldn’t get any odder, in France it seems many of Francois Hollande’s team appear to have backed an independent candidate for President, rather than their own Socialist Party candidate!

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, trading standards officers have destroyed a selection of Easter eggs after the Benedictine monks at Buckfast Abbey complained about them. A local off licence had designed their own ‘Buckfast Tonic Easter Egg’ which cost £9.99 and contained a chocolate egg, a miniature bottle of Bucky, a fridge magnet and a cigarette lighter (?) – £2000 worth of orders are now being refunded!

Congratulations to Jo Pavey who was awarded the bronze medal for the 10,000m World Championships of 2007. That’s a long wait for a medal, but we’ve always known success is a mix of patience and perseverance!

As cyclists across London have been calling out for more cycle lanes, the professionals have been fined for using them. In the Three Days of De Panne, 15 riders, including the winner, were fined 200 Swiss Francs for using a cycle lane that allowed them to miss the cobbles on a hilly section, causing spectators to scatter and a near miss with a parked car!

Brexit Brevity is the watch word this week, what with a selection of deliveries, the year-end stock count and a cheese and wine tasting too. we have a general sense of wonder as to who scheduled it all in the last few days of March!

Tasting this weekend

Assuming we find any in the stock count, we’ll be opening one of our newbies, Arena Negra Chardonnay (£7.49). A cracking drop from Chile, named after the black volcanic shores of the Pacific. Clean and fresh, with a lovely fruity zing.

As we’ve made the journey that far south, we’ll just hop over the Andes and try Lazos Trio Malbec (£16.49). With fruit from La Consulta at an altitude of around 1100m, this is a Malbec with a real touch of elegance and a touch of spice and roundness from 6 months in oak barrels.

Late!

Monday 3rd April we’ll be opening later as we have to attend a tasting searching out new wines for your delectation. We’ll be back in the shop by 4pm though.

That’s it from us folks, come and taste the wines and be very alert tomorrow morning…

Cheers!

Wayne & Alex

Mother’s Day

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Six nations is over, England won, though not prettily and by no means easily. It seems to this correspondent though, that Mr Jones has the makings of a good team there, tidy up some of the errors and we can look forward to the 2019 World Cup in Japan with some excitement. Lions tour next!

Formula I season starts this weekend down in Melbourne, with new owners, new rules and talk of a Ferrari revival. We’ll see how it unfolds, but in off-season testing they have suffered no engine failures, compared to McLaren having seven and just the one for Mercedes: Let the tournament begin.

Yesterday’s Stage 4 of the Volte a Catalunya was shortened by 60km due to snowfall (or as the UCI states, Extreme Weather Protocol!). To be fair, it’s never any fun to cycle in the snow but one can’t help but wonder if Eddy Merckx would have just put a sweater on? For the record, Nacer Bouhanni won the stage for Cofidis.

With the dawning realisation that the day was creeping up on us, we couldn’t help but wonder the origins of Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday as my Nan called it!) After we’d both made a quick dash to the post office, we looked it up!

Well, it seems in the 16th century there was a tradition for people to return to the church of their baptism on the 4th Sunday of Lent. Those that did were said to have been a-mothering. As time went on this started to die out and by the early 1920’s the tradition in much of Europe was lapsing.

Undeterred by European fashions, the Americans kept it and it was the influence of American and Canadian soldiers during World War II that triggered a revival. The canniness  of UK retailers in the early 1950’s is not to be underestimated either; the chance to sell a card and a box of Milk Tray seemed too good to miss and so the tradition of giving mum a card and a gift stems from there and is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

As to returning to the church of baptism, Wayne reckons the last time he did that was as a teenager for a disco. I didn’t realise they had churches that far back!

So, don’t forget Mother’s Day folks, a box of Milk Tray and a glass of something suitable.

Tasting this weekend…

Meanwhile, in Arthur Road, we’ll be opening some wine, it seems rude not to what with the weekend being here and it threatening to be dry too, if a little breezy (the weather, not sure we have any breezy wine).

White wise we shall sniff, swirl and slurp Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc (£13.99). A new listing, we tasted it for the first time just a few weeks ago. We were at a tasting, chatting to our chum the Viking and saw it on the list. After suggesting all the “Take the Weather With You” and “Four Seasons in One Day” jokes we can categorically state this wine has nothing to do with the band of the same name from the late 80’s. As fresh and zesty as you’d expect, and we thought, really rather good value.

In the red corner, we’ll toddle over to France for a splash of Bordeaux. Another new listing, Rives de Loudenne 2010 (£18.99), is the second wine of Chateau Loudenne. The wine is a cracking drop of Medoc, from a stunner of a vintage and is just slipping into its stride. Rich, of fruit and sunshine, maturing with a gently rounded tannin structure and a great finish. Lovely with Sunday lunch, methinks.

That’s about it from us for this week, don’t forget when you go to bed on Saturday it’s already an hour later than you think!

Let’s be careful out there,

Alex & Wayne

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

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

Difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bioca Godello 2016 – £13.49 – Valdeorras, Galicia

Sameirás Blanco 2015 – £16.49 – Ribeiro, Galicia

Alodio 2015 – £12.99 – Ribeira Sacra, Galicia

Casal de Paula 2015 – £14.79 – Ribeira, Galicia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sláinte!

All about eto…

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you all at 5.30pm then….

Spring Sprung, eto, Rueda

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s the Problem?

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

How does eto work?

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

OK sure, but how do we know it works?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Wedding Proposal…

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we do

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

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

What else do we do?

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

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

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

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

eto | wine preservation decanter

www.etowine.com

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

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

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

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

And finally, what do we do at the weekend?

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

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

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

And that’s us, done!

Cheese Wine and Chewie

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wine & Cheese

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

Thursday 30th March and Thursday 25th May.

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

Tasting this weekend.

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

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

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

Cheers!

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

Friday, February 10th, 2017