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.
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!
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!