Archive for May, 2017

The Tinkerbell Effect

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Oh, for crying out loud, when is it all going to end?  Months we’ve been waiting for a glimmer of hope, a ray of sunshine, a jacket-free day.  We’ve had a couple of nice half-days dotted around, I’ll grant you, but frankly, thus far, 2017 has been a monumental disappointment.  Here Comes The Sun?  Not soon, by the looks of it.  Sunshine On A Rainy Day?  Correct but without the sunshine bit.  The Sun Has Got His Hat On?  And also his raincoat, gumboots and umbrella.  Frankly, we are well and truly sick and tired of wearing sweaters and I lose track of the number of ladies who have eagerly enquired as to when Wayne is planning to switch to wearing shorts…

Perhaps it’s time for the Tinkerbell effect to step in – if we all start drinking Rosé, having barbecues, arranging picnics and cricket matches, then the sun might start to get the message.  Let’s face it, I’m off to Devon next week and, as it stands right now, I will be taking more clothes than when I went down for New Year!

But if the sun doesn’t shine for us at least we’ve got a General Election to look forward to in 3 weeks time.  I know, that’s really, really soon.  The Conservatives have just launched their manifesto, which to some of us seems a little relaxed, almost complacent in its tardiness – but then one looks at the predicted voting intentions across the country and, frankly, they could probably have got away with publishing the shipping forecast without significantly denting their chances.

The football season is grinding to a halt.  That’s it really; we know who has won the Premiership, we know Tottenham have bragging rights over Arsenal, we know that the North East is in the doldrums and we are sad not to be seeing Fulham going the distance.  Apparently people are still sporadically falling off bikes in the Giro and cricket is still being practised, in indoor nets.  Oh, and in 2 weeks time the Lions tour starts…

The North East is in the doldrums… I don’t think so!

You know that bit in Asterix where, in the opening pages, there is a map of Gaul and it’s all occupied by the Romans and well…

‘The year is 50 BC. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans.  Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium…’

Good, so you all remember now.  The small Gaulish village, with a druid and some warriors and a flame haired, hot-blooded chief, fearful only of the sky falling on his head, taking on the might of the Roman Empire and always coming out on top.  Well, how about we re-locate this village to Northumberland and rename Vitalstatistix as Walter and Getafix as Chris.

The small hamlet that is Hepple, home to the eponymous Gin, has proven itself to be indomitable in the wild world of spirits.  As a testament to the tenacity of this tiny distillery in a world filled with Diageo and Suntory we were delighted to learn this week that Hepple Gin has been awarded a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017.

Founded in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition has become the most respected and influential spirits competition in the world. Emphasising integrity and impartiality, an SFWSC medal has come to be the most reliable indication of excellence, and those spirits recognised as medalworthy are understood to be the best in the industry.  Effectively, the competition is considered the Oscars of the drinks industry and the Double Gold accolade is only awarded to those entries that receive a Gold medal rating from every member of the judging panel.

And on top of all this, this year there were a record-breaking 2,100 entries to the overall competition, an increase of 25% from 2016 – which only adds to the achievement.

We’ve probably bored you silly already about how Walter was a customer of ours before he moved back up north; how Chris was an important cog in the Sipsmith wheel until he, too, moved back up north; and how we were very lucky to be one of the first outlets to retail their wares.  Anyway, suffice to say, we are immensely proud of our very own Vitalstatistix and Getafix and can be happy in the knowledge that we always told you that their gin was good, a magic potion even, by Toutatis!

Hepple Gin – £38 – whilst stocks last…

Let’s vote Tinkerbell

With a view to the earlier comments, let’s try and persuade the sun to come out by opening some summery wines…

Gavi di Gavi Bric Sassi Della Maddalena 2015, Piemonte, Italy – £13.99

The Sarotto family has been making wine on this estate since the 1800’s but have only bottled their own wines since Roberto Sarotto graduated from winemaking school.  The 50 year-old Cortese vines, grown at altitude in the Maddalena vineyard, deliver a crisp wine displaying ripe, rich white peach flavours, a stony minerality and a long fresh finish.  Serve with sea bass on the grill, grilled vegetables or creamy seafood pasta – let’s be sure, apart from the obvious (sun), not much says summer more than a chilled glass of Gavi.

Sticking with northern Italy for the red another light, summer quaffer…

Monte del Frá Bardolino 2015, Veneto, Italy – £12.79

Always lighter in style than Valpolicella and often overlooked, Bardolino is an absolute gem of a wine.  Lovely aromas of soft cherry fruits with hints of brandy-snaps (kirsch?), too.  One of our favourites this, with its palate showing cherry fresh fruits, soft tannins and a hint of soft spice on the finish, this is also delicious lightly chilled on a hot summer’s day!

And with that we must let you get on with your busy day…

Ain’t No Sunshine –Bill Withers, he definitely knew.

Aptly, and with a tinge of sadness, the last words must go to Soundgarden: Black Hole Sun/won’t you come/and wash away the rain….

Keep on rockin’!

Wine Leather?

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we learnt the draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. A lovely strong and stable sport, rugby. Looks like a tough pool for England, both Ireland and Scotland were drawn together and seem to think they’ll make it through the pool stage, we think underestimating Japan may well be a folly, ask any South African!

In slightly less strong and stable sports, it looks like Six-Hole golf could be the new thing. The inaugural event at the Centurion Club in Hemel Hempstead last weekend saw pyrotechnics, banging music, and Denmark crowned champions. If there is one takeaway we liked, it was the shot clocks. Nice one Centurion!

In even less strong, and probably need stabil-izers sport, the Giro d’Italia is wending its wonderful way round Italy, hitting the mainland yesterday after a spin round Sardegna and Sicilia.

As usual, it’s having its share of controversies. Stage 4 saw Javier Moreno disqualified for pushing another rider off his bike, and stage 5 saw his team-mate Luka Pibernik celebrate his win by raising his arms in the traditional manner. Sadly, it was a lap early and the stage was won by Fernando Gaviria. A tough couple of days in the saddle for Team Bahrain-Merida.

Electioneering continues with all the usual nonsense and gusto. Many promises that will never be delivered, tax cuts, tax rises, more referendums, less referendums and a million new homes in the next five years. All are strong, stable, fully costed and for the many, not the few, of course!

On the wine front, news reaches us that an Italian fashion entrepreneur has managed to make a leather substitute from grape skin and seed fibres. Full story on Decanter, link below

http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/wine-leather-fashion-milan-368840/

Wine leather: What you could be wearing next season – Decanter

www.decanter.com

An Italian entrepreneur has created wine leather by using leftover grape skin fibres and plans to launch his new materials in Milan…

Park Vintners Wine Club

A number of you have asked lately if we do a regular monthly wine box. Absolutely we do, we have chosen a mixed selection every month since April 2011. In fact, we’ve spent a bit of time just this week knocking on member’s doors, dropping off the latest mix!

Each month we choose a couple of mixed cases at different prices. There is the £60 box and the £100 box. It’s a box of six and generally the mix is 3 red and 3 white but we have been known to put a rosé in, or even a bottle of bubbly. We’ll email you the month’s selection, along with a couple of delivery slot suggestions and you let us know if you’d like to take the box or not. Then we’ll deliver your case with tasting notes. In return for your loyalty we always have greater than 10% discount on the selection.

Simple and straightforward with no bother. We have customers that take 1 of each selection, some take a double box and some alternate backwards and forward between the two.

If you think this sounds like fun then drop us a line and we’ll start emailing you each month with details.

Tasting This Weekend

This week we’re visiting the Loire valley for the white. Not far from the city of Nantes is Domaine des Herbauges. We’ll taste their Moulin d’Argent Chardonnay (£10.99) which is from vines around the lake of Grand-Lieu in Muscadet country. Crisp, dry, and completely done in stainless steel, the wine gets a little lees contact for complexity. It reminded us of a Chablis when we tried it, just without the price tag.

Red wise we’re a long way from home. Wairarapa, at the south end of New Zealand’s North Island is home to Borthwick Vineyards, where Paddy Borthwick makes this delicious Paper Road Pinot Noir 2015 (£15.99). A lovely example of red fruited Pinot Noir, with velvety tannins and just a touch of savoury edge.

That’ll be us then.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Frost, elections and albatross

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Man: Albatross! Albatross! Albatross!

Customer: Two choc-ices please.

Man: I haven’t got choc-ices. I only got the albatross. Albatross!

Customer: What flavour is it?

Man: It’s a bird, innit? It’s a bl**dy sea bird. .. it’s not any bl**dy flavour. Albatross!

Customer: Do you get wafers with it?

Man: Course you don’t get bl**dy wafers with it. Albatross!

Customer: How much is it?

Man: Ninepence.

Customer: I’ll have two please.

 News reaches us this week that scientists are using high resolution satellite photographs to count albatross.  The Northern Royal Albatross calls the rocky sea stacks near New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, home. But they are sadly on the endangered list and have not been counted since 2009. The inaccessibility of the sea stacks make it expensive and dangerous to do manually, so the US military’s spy satellites are just the ticket apparently.

As you read this the council elections around the country are being counted. For me it’s almost like going to the cinema in the old days, a quick b-movie before the main event on the 8th June.

France is having the final round of the Presidential Elections with Macron likely to win (?) but Marine Le Pen setting herself up for next time round, we think. In a last minute statement former President of the USA, Barack Obama backed Macron.  There seems to be no end to foreign states interfering in other nations elections does there?

Prince Philip has sadly decided to retire from public life at the age of 95. I will certainly miss him; he has a wonderful catalogue of one liners, of which my favourite was from 1995. Speaking to a Scottish driving instructor “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

 On the sports front, Alex’s team won the North London derby last week and look certain to finish above Wayne’s team for the first time since Alex was at university.

In real sports, the 100th Edition of the Giro d’Italia kicks off today with a 206km spin along the north coast of Sardegna. Quintana to steal it on the hills in the last week? Geraint Thomas to rinse the two time trials to get him far enough ahead to hang on in the hills? Pull up an armchair; it looks set to be a cracker.

On the tennis front, is it only me that thinks Sharapova should have to go through qualification? She’s returning from a rather lenient 15 month ban for doping, so giving her multiple wild card entries isn’t likely to deter future players from taking “supplements” for “games of special importance”, is it?

 This cold snap continues to play havoc for vineyards across Europe. Last week was sadly the turn of many English vineyards with some having between 50-75% of the buds destroyed by an air frost that chilled the vineyards down to a barmy -6˚C in some places.

We heard from one winery in Kent, where the frost alarm went off about 3am (yes, there are such things!) and they started putting the candles out but, before they had even got halfway the damage had been done, so cold was the wind.

In Bordeaux the same evening they suffered possibly their worst frost in 25 years. Even lighting fires and using helicopters to keep the air moving hasn’t managed to mitigate the damage in St Emilion, where some growers may have lost their entire crop.

Whilst this is particularly late for such severe frosts, much of the problem has been caused by the spurt of warm mild weather we had in March, which has encouraged everything to be a couple of weeks ahead of schedule and more susceptible to the freeze.

Looks like we’ll be drinking more Southern hemisphere wines in the future!

Tasting this Weekend

On the white front we’ll open Domaine Boeckel Pinot Blanc Reserve 2015 (£13.79) a wine we threatened to open a few weeks back but never quite got round to it. The wine is a bit of a charmer… 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.

Red wise, I think we’ll slide along to visit our chums from Ramon Bilbao and sup some of their rather tasty Ramón Bilbao Edición Limitada 2013 (£14.99). A delicious Rioja Crianza made from some of their finest grapes. Soft and open with lovely creamy black and red fruit character.

Gannet on a stick!

Wayne & Alex