Wayne gets the blues…

October 6th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It seems to me that there are many things wrong with the world. State police spending their Sunday beating unarmed citizens over a difference of view, another random man with too many guns shooting random innocents at a concert and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar all, rather sadly, spring too easily to mind.

The dishonesty of shrinkflation on bags of Maltesers, Minstrels and now even Jaffa Cakes all by producers who prefer to think we’re too stupid to notice. Walnut Whips without their walnut, how ridiculous.

A wrong that caught my eye this week is wine related.  French born, London based entrepreneur Aymerc Bruneau unveiled the first blue fizz made from French grapes at the Frieze Art Fair.  When I started to read this I thought “ah, maybe it’s some sort of performance art or publicity stunt”.  I read that the colour was inspired by Yves Klein’s trademarked ‘International Klein Blue’.  But then I saw “We created Eden with elegance in mind, artistic spirit in soul and art-de-vivre in essence.”  It is really quite sweet, (38g/l residual sugar) so that you can drink it over ice and it is claimed to taste better than champagne.

It’s blue! How on earth can something with blue dye in it be better? I’m not sure the wine world is any better off with this launch, but it is the first time Frieze Art Fair has been plugged in our missive, so maybe it is performance art… Anyhow a bottle will set you back £45 or a Jeroboam (4 bottles equivalent) £315. Even the maths is dodgy for an overpriced WKD!

Suffice to say we haven’t managed to find any fridge or shelf space for it.

However, we did find some shelf space for a plethora of beauties this week.

First up, and one Wayne is particularly excited about is Kalin Cellars Cuvée CH Chardonnay 1995, Sonoma County, USA (£40). Those of you with good memories may remember we had a bit of the Cuvee W last year and were just a little upset when it ran out.

Kalin Cellars make small parcels of wine from a selection of other people’s vineyards and then release it as and when they think the wine is ready. Robert Parker wrote: “Terry Leighton is one of California’s two most talented winemakers … (Kalin wines) are the wines of a genius. These wines are worth every effort to find in the marketplace” For our five pennyworth, we’d just say they are how Meursault used to be before all the oxy problems started to rear their ugly heads in the late ‘90’s.  This is from Charles Heinz Vineyards in Sonoma County and is absolutely stunning, rounded and dry, nutty, oatmealy and honeyed, really long in the finish, and still fresh as a daisy. A bargain!

The nagging worked, and we can tell you that the Thiénot Brut NV (£32.99) is back by popular demand. Still as delicious, still not as famous as it should be, and still the Champagne that kicked Möet out of the 2013 Oscars party!

We’ve also listed our first XO Cognac (although it didn’t turn upon the delivery today – Monday they promise me!). Alex, with his love of hip hop and Grime music, was very keen to go down the Hennessey route, but when Wayne pointed out that there is much less Grime in Wimbledon Park than when we worked in Clapham, his voice was heard above the din.

Delamain Pale & Dry XO (£95) Established in 1759 Delamain is one of the last family-owned Cognac houses. They specialise in aged cognacs and this XO is a blend of 25 years old Grande Champagne cognacs, each one was aged separately before blending and ageing for another two years. Complex and powerful with floral and vanilla aromas. Mellow and subtle on the palate with concentrated fruits and hints of liquorice and vanilla.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll kick off the red corner with a wine we think ideal with windy evenings and falling leaves, Antonio Camillo Morellino Di Scansano 2016 (£14.99), is a cracking red from near the coast in Tuscany.

In the white corner we’re heading to Austria. Turk Grüner Veltliner Kremser Weinberge 2015 (£17.99). Weingut Türk dates back to the beginning of the 18th century and consists of fifteen hectares of vines in Kremstal at the heart of Austrian winemaking. Franz says that his aim is to capture the positive energy of the sun in fluid form. We’re not sure if he’s managed that, but this is typical, peppery Grüner Veltliner. A spicy nose, crisp and refreshing, a Grüner Veltliner that offers drinking pleasure and finesse.

Thanks to Tom Petty for sound-tracking us whilst we learnt to fly.

Wayne & Alex

Cheese, Wine, Sherry, Gin…

September 29th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

He’s back.  He’s reinvigorated.  He’s 90% fish and 10% Sherry.  He’s tanned.  He’s irritatingly relaxed.  He’s ready for Christmas even though he’s still wearing shorts whilst sweeping up crispy autumnal leaf fall.  He is, frankly, quite exhausting.

And he’s instituted some new shop rules – a couple of weeks of good, healthy living and relaxation has turned him proper bossy:

  • No sausage rolls – not good for us apparently, not even as part of a packed luncheon
  • No fighting outside Bristol nightclubs – no good for us but in a different way
  • No scrummaging or tackling – too dangerous and thus ends shop rugby as we know it
  • No testing nuclear weapons – put’s everyone on edge and fighter planes in the sky
  • No more dealings with Boeing
  • No more Hugh Hefner – not altogether sure what he means by that
  • No more trips on Ryanair – not enough flights and not enough consequential compensation
  • No more tweeting about taking a knee during the national anthem
  • No more ‘aid’ packages from Russia
  • No more discussion of October abstaining
  • No more heroes
  • No more Shakespearoes

 

At which point I stopped listening as he now seemed to be busying himself with Spotify….

But it’s good to have him back, really.  When Wayne finishes his summer holidays it means it is eyes down and full steam ahead towards Christmas, hold onto your hats.  We’ve started to order some of the Christmas wines, ready for delivery next month I suspect and we’ve been taking a leisurely look at our spirits – Rhubarb Gin?  Tequila?  Any interest out there, or is it just us?

Oh, and ‘normal’ Gin too.

Bizarre as it may seem, given the current juniper haze that has us all engulfed, we are struggling to find a Gin to replace Dodd’s.  It doesn’t have to be the same as Dodd’s, it just needs to be different from our current offering of Hepple, Little Bird, Dutch Courage and Monkey 47.  Local would be good, top quality and flavoursome is an absolute must, as is interesting.  Any thoughts?  We’ve had a number of suggestions from all sorts of far-flung places but have now taken the view that if people are consistently asking for one particular brand, then that’s the one we should look at more closely.

So if anyone has any suggestions, drop us a line and we’ll have a butchers!

Otherwise, not a huge amount to report on the home front his week.  Wayne’s return means that our instore tastings start up once more and Wine School kicks off a new term next week with a full classroom of eager oenophiles, followed swiftly by our first autumn Wine & Cheese Tasting on the evening of Thursday 5th October at 8pm.

Whilst Wine School is fully booked, we do still have 4 seats available for the Thursday evening tasting of all things good in the cheese and wine world.  If you fancy it, drops us a line or drop in – it’s £20 per person, bookable in advance, and is always a very fulfilling and satisfying evening!

If you can’t wait for next week to have your tastebuds tantalised, we will, as is our weekend wont, be opening a red and a white this evening and all through tomorrow.

White wine will be represented by an old favourite of ours – De Wetshof Estate ‘Lesca’ Chardonnay 2016, – £14.99.  From Robertson in South Africa, and named after Danie de Wet’s wife, this is a lightly wooded Chardonnay, exuding lively aromas of citrus, green apple and butterscotch on the nose.  With the elegance and intensity of great white Burgundy, it has a complex, racy palate of lemon, peach and ripe apple flavours with nutty and mineral notes.  Pork stuffed with prunes was the winery recommendation and we won’t argue with that.

The red representative, maintaining our theme of Burgundy grapes being used elsewhere, is going to be Southern Dawn Pinot Noir 2013 – £14.49, from Marlborough, New Zealand.  I could give you all the guff about the soil in the vineyards, the angle of the slope the vines are planted on, and the winemakers collection of 19th century corkscrews, but none of that is really relevant.  We sell this wine because we think it tastes brilliant: light with red cherry fruit character and a fresh finish.  I’ve no idea if he has a corkscrew collection but am certain he doesn’t use it for this!

No more from us this week – those are the new rules!

Wayne & Alex

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

September 22nd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

Some weeks are easier than others and, consequentially, some of these Friday missives are easier to write than others.  This week is a harder week, the news hasn’t really been playing with a straight bat and there is little humour to be derived from much of what we read each day.

Locally, the events in Parsons Green dominate the news and South West London has been rudely awakened to the reality that whilst we live in what seems to be a lovely, leafy, utopian suburbia, we are also still part of the greater London metropolis and can be subjected to the same terrors.  Thank goodness it wasn’t worse.

Internationally, the Donald got more time in the spotlight as he promised to destroy North Korea and put the squeeze on Iran – I’m not sure if he is planning on doing this unilaterally or with a UN jacket on.  Either way, he emphasised that it’s all in the name of making the world a safer and more peaceful place, which makes one re-examine that bit a little earlier in his speech when he stated ‘it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defence. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been’.  How safe does that make me feel?  Not sure, especially since Kim now sees his nuclear endeavours as the only sensible avenue when faced with a ‘deranged’ POTUS.  I hate it when the pot and the kettle argue….

The one joy was hearing the Melania, without any hints of irony, highlighting the dangers of cyberbullying and the important role we all have in curtailing it in a speech at a luncheon on Wednesday.  I can only assume she doesn’t follow her husband on twitter.

And then Theresa got up to have her say in New York on Wednesday but unfortunately she failed to attract the packed house that Donny T drew, as more than half the delegates had absented themselves from the room and some of the remainers, as it were, were busy talking amongst themselves.  Perhaps a good trial run for her speech in Florence today, gets her warmed up to the idea of not being listened to!

In sport, at a time when we should absolutely be celebrating the continued footballing ascendance of the England Lionesses, after their 6-0 drubbing of Russia on Tuesday, we are in fact staring gobsmacked at the ineptitude of the FA.  This football team has been getting better and better and has been a beacon of hope in a fairly poor English sport landscape.

But it was not to be unsullied.  Mark Sampson, their manager, has been sacked, almost 4 years after his appointment, for reasons that should have stopped him being hired in the first place.  But then he was investigated by the FA’s safeguarding unit and cleared in terms of his suitability to continue in football, in early 2015.  And Martin Glenn, FA chief exec,  says that now, ‘ (on) reading that report, I felt that what I saw was incompatible with the standards that we’d expect for someone to work at the FA.’  But later in the interview he states ‘Mark Sampson is absolutely clear to work as a coach in football.’

What?

Either he’s a rotten apple and should be removed from the game completely or a good egg who has a clean bill of health?  Is he a bully, a racist or a risk to his players’ safety?  We really cannot tell from all the confusingly muddled messages emanating from the people who are meant to be in charge but one thing is for sure, it stinks.

When I started writing this today, I was hoping to come up with a selection of observations that might all snugly fit under the working title: 7 Reasons Why We Call It Fizz Friday. 

I’m not sure if I have succeeded but let’s all raise glasses this evening to life, to Parsons Green, to Mexico, to the North Korean workers, to Marc Bolan and Jimi Hendrix (died this week in 1978 and 1970, respectively) and, to lighten the mood, to Prince Charles, who confessed this week in 1983, that he talks to his plants!

To help with this I have decided to eschew white wine this week on our tasting and jump straight in with some fizz.

For years we sold Morton Brut NV from New Zealand and you all loved it.  It then went through a re-brand and now calls itself Leveret IQ Premium Brut NV.  A champagne in all but name really, being a blend of the usual suspects, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay it’s crisp and dry with a fine mousse, it’s exactly the sort of bubbly for Friday Night fizz after a hard week.  It’s £14.99 and is a bottled celebration of human intelligence!

Theresa is in Tuscany so I thought it a wonderful excuse to open something very Tuscan – Sesti Monteleccio 2104 – £19.99.  In 1975, when Giuseppe Sesti came to Argiano, Brunello was distinguished but also dying out.  Only 25 producers remained in the area and many assumed Brunello would become a historical footnote.  He set about restoring the ancient vineyards of Argiano.  Monteleccio is Giuseppe’s baby Brunello, distinctively Sangiovese Grosso, the only grape of Brunello, with its classic aromas of dried cherries, cedar, truffles and tobacco.  The palate is concentrated but also soft and open with notes of mocha and chocolate lingering long into the finish.  As a footnote, Giuseppe did not initially choose a career in wine.  Instead, his Venetian upbringing inspired him to study music, art, and astronomy, the last of which became his profession which makes him the perfect person to keep an eye on the actions of Rocket Man and the Dotard!

That’s it from us for now – in all the hiatus I never got a chance to view the rugby last weekend – anyone got any idea how the All Blacks got on against the Springboks!!

I’ll love you and leave you now…

Keep your shoulders back and your heads held high!

September 15th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s that time of year when the Big Dog stubs out his stogie, stretches his legs, buries all his bones in the back garden and takes a well-earned holiday in the sun.  This year he is chasing cats and squirrels around Cádiz, Jerez and Sevilla, hopefully whilst refreshing himself regularly with mucho Tinto de Verano, Rabo de Toro and perhaps PX.

Which means, as a consequence, it’s the time of year that I get to arrive at work on time (as opposed to the standard 3 minutes past the hour); I get to stand behind the computer looking important and business-like, writing important sounding emails to impressive sounding people; I get to gaze into the middle distance, arms folded, with the expression of a man busy working out a complex problem; I also get to sit in the big leather swivel chair and, if there’s no one around, turn myself into some sort of human fidget spinner, careening around until giddiness becomes nausea.  And that’s just Monday morning covered; I’ve got two weeks of this.  Freedom, sweet, sweet freedom!

Plus I get to answer the phone.  This is actually nowhere near as exciting as he makes it seem when he is here:

Ring, ring, ring

  • Hello, Park Vintners, Alex speaking
  • Hello, can I speak to the owner of the business?
  • I am the owner, how can I help?
  • Hello Sir, are you the owner of the business?
  • I just told you I was
  • I am calling from the National Company of Power and I would like to reduce your electricity and gas bill today, who is your current supplier?
  • There’s no such thing as the National Company of Power, I think you’re fibbing…

And so the conversation goes on and on – I’ve watched Wayne, over the years, fielding these daily cold calls with the finesse of Jonty Rhodes and admired the length of time he can keep them hanging on the telephone.  Yesterday I broke his record – 8 minutes and 47 seconds – plus there was no swearing from either side and we parted on civil terms – I think the poor lady at the other end hadn’t realised she was the first person I’d spoken to for 4 hours and that I wasn’t going to let her go without a fight!

What else has happened?  Well, apart from sidling off into town yesterday morning to 67 Pall Mall to taste Armand de Brignac Champagne (google it, it’s bonkers) I’ve been chained to the shop.  I’ve bought some wine, I’ve sold some too, which is good for business;  I’ve taken my first Christmas order and I inadvertently listened to 3 hours of experimental jazz on Spotify on Wednesday which almost sent me loopy – elevator muzak on steroids –  God, how I miss the cricket and La Vuelta….

And now it’s Friday – the weekend is beckoning to us to hurry up and the gym can train itself tonight, we’re all having a glass of wine.  If it’s any help at all I’m planning on opening a couple of bottles here if you fancy coming and having a quick tasting snifter on your way home tonight, or anytime tomorrow (I’m here from 10.03am)

In homage to the guvnor’s trip to Spain I thought I might open some Iberian treats but from the opposite end of the country.

Dressed in white satin we have Quinta de la Erre Albariño 2016 – £15.99 which is a small, 10 hectare estate in the O Rosal area of Rias Baixas, coastal Galicia, an area widely regarded as a stand out region quality wise.  A cracking wine with a touch of orange blossom and nectarine fruit in the nose, nectarine fruit on the palate joined by spice, minerality and a lively dash of citrus. Hangs around in the mouth flavour wise, and is great as a partner to shellfish, or even on its own as an aperitif.

Sporting the red flares we have Alodio 2015 – £12.99 hailing from Ribeira Sacra which is just a little inland from the Albariño’s home turf.  A delicious, medium-bodied red, made predominantly from Mencia a grape variety that perennially reminds us of the great Cabernet Francs you find in the Loire Valley of France.  Blackberry fruit leaps out on the nose with some lovely tea caddy leaf notes.  Zesty on the palate with those dark fruits once more, a bit of spice to the fine tannins and crunchy dark fruit into the finish.  This is a lovely quaffer, ‘a real second glasser’ as the boss would say!

Finally a few notes of admin and dates for your diary.

Wine School starts in two weeks’ time – Wednesday 4th October.  We’ve told you loads about this already so won’t labour the point; suffice to say it’s filling up so if you’re planning on joining in, I’d suggest signing up sooner rather than later. £150 per person, bring a pal or two!

Wine & Cheese tasting – Thursday 5th October – still a couple of spaces left, £20 per person, just space for one pal!

Wimbledon Tennis Ballot – for those of you who like the strawberries and the Pimm’s in the rain and always seem to miss out on tickets, the ballot for next year’s tennis opened last week:

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

Here ends this public service announcement.

That’s all from me.  Rough day for South West London today, keep your shoulders back and your heads held high!

Wine School, Pais and Riesling

September 8th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Disarray, that’s the only word for it.

Cycling magazines everywhere, amongst the betting slips and stacks of newly listed expensive wines.  I thought I left you guys in charge?  However, it seems August scathed Wayne marginally less than last year and, as each day passes, he is talking less to the spider (Leslie, apparently) upturned in the corner of the window, and has managed to cease addressing the deer on top of the beer fridge as ‘Master’.

We’ll get there.

Otherwise, it seems that his lordship has been keeping you pretty well informed about the world and its varying idiosyncrasies, with the occasional bit of wine punditry – a nice balance.

They say that going on holiday is the opportunity to take some time far away from your usual daily toil and to unwind all those tightly-bound stress knots that have surreptitiously built up in your belly over the previous 12 months.  And they’re right.  Even with a brace of children in tow, after two and a half weeks away, donnez moi has given way to laissez faire, and ‘are we nearly there?’ loses its potency after the first 1,000km of driving.

Special mention goes to my daughter who was fairly certain (as she is about most things) that she could see the sea – we were about 100km south of Madrid.

Doesn’t take long to get back into the flow of things and before you know it Angry Alex from Arthur Road is back in the chair.  What has particularly galled me today is the joint report by the Royal Society for Public Health and the weight loss organisation, Slimming World.  Obviously, I first came across this report whilst skimming through the BMJ over my muesli but I believe it may also been covered in things called The Sun, The Guardian and the BBC – whatever they may be.  Anyway, I’m sure you’ve read the article but, if not, the nub of it is that we are all eating more than we should, only this time it’s not our fault, it’s the fault of those naughty old retailers – fast food outlets, cafes, supermarkets and pubs, to name and shame just a few.

Allegedly, it’s all to do with the evil sales tool ‘the upsell’, previously only known to those on the inside, and we are powerless, yes powerless, to resist.  Picture the scene – you’ve have walked through the golden arches of health and longevity and approached the counter.  Whilst ordering your ‘healthy’ snack the kind person behind the counter, let’s call them an assistant, since that is their role, enquires as to whether you might like a side order, a drink or perhaps make it a bit bigger for 50p more – customer service, if you will.  It is at this point, apparently, that we all become transfixed by such an offering and buy the lot.  And an apple pie!

I’m not going to labour the point but, having spent all of my working life behind bars (!) or counters, I might have come across this shady ‘upsell’ practice once or twice.  It can be seen as a positive force to show a customer something they might enjoy (if you like claret then you might enjoy this chianti) or it could be through necessity (sorry, it’s 4.30pm on Christmas Eve – Bollinger is the only champagne we have left…) but if the ‘upsell’ was so darned potent and pernicious then trust me, you’d all be walking out of here with a case of Cristal under your arm, every time!!

Point made – caveat emptor, no one ‘makes’ you buy anything and when one does go into a fast food chain, well, the responsibility is on you really, isn’t it?

Sorry about all that, think I might need another holiday….

Moving swiftly on, and back onto safer shores perhaps, all the schools have now gone back I believe, certainly there are plenty of smart new blazers and clean shoes wandering around each afternoon which won’t look the same come half term.

So, they’ve all gone back to school, how about you?

As we’ve mentioned before I’m sure, our Six Week Wine School kicks off its new term on Wednesday 4th October at 8pm, here in the shop.  It costs £150 per person and is currently half full.  We have noticed in the last couple of days an increased interest, and indeed sign-up, almost as if a momentum is building.  If you want to be part of this momentum and learn more about what’s in your glass 60 different times in October and November then contact us straight away and in return for payment we’ll reserve your place at the table.

Wine School

6 week course on Wednesday evenings

Wednesday 4th October until Wednesday 15th November (half term Wednesday 25th October). 

£150 all in!

Elsewhere a footballer, famous for getting drunk and acting inappropriately, has got drunk and acted as expected.  Test cricket is running the risk of making ODI’s look a little bit laboured; Chris Froome keeps labouring up hills that most of us would struggle to walk up, and the US Open has an all American ladies semi-final round which, considering the paucity of quality in US ladies tennis of late beyond Venus and Serena, is a bit of a turn up.

And lastly, it’s the Denbies Half Marathon on Sunday – a beautiful run through the Surrey Hills with a wine tasting every two miles – who needs a medal – good luck to anyone foolhardy enough to be getting involved!

With wine tasting in mind how about a drop this weekend?  Having fully diluted my stresses whilst on holiday it seems they are slowly building up again, so what shall we try?

Tackling the white wine side of things will be Novas Gran Reserva Riesling 2016, Bio-Bio Valley, Chile (£11.19).   A new one in the shop this very week, made by the clever folk at Emiliana, and, just like its predecessor, is organic. The wine is crisp, dry, with lime fruits, a bit of minerality and has a lovely zesty finish.

Red wine will roll in from Itata in Chile courtesy of A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2015 (£15.99). Over the years we have tried our fair share of wines from the grape variety País. Most of them, to be fair, have been a bit rustic, chewy and big but, somehow, just didn’t do it for either of us. You can imagine the eyes rolling when our chum Phil brought this in. We had to swallow our words, this is not like any of the others. Really lifted fruit on the nose, fresh and juicy, almost spritzy even in the mouth with really fine tannins. A proper vin de soif that’d be perfect with some slow cooked pork. Come along and taste it, tell us what food you’d have it with.

Oh, and whilst you here, would you like a case of Cristal with that?

¡Salud!

Sunny September Sidles In!

September 1st, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So that’s that then, transfer window slams shut and somehow more money than ever before has been spent on names most of us didn’t know until 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon.  Looks to me like Swansea have done some good business… buy Wilfried Bony for about £12 million, get 35 goals out of him, sell him to Manchester City for £25 million, buy him back for £12 million after they don’t give him any games!  The Premier League really does bring Fantasy Football to life!

Bake Off is back, all be it on a different channel. As a quick guide for future episodes, Noel Fielding is the tall one with long hair who isn’t Sue, Sandy Toksvig is the short funny one who isn’t Mel, Prue Leith is the glamorously dressed one who isn’t Mary, and Paul Hollywood is the one from the old show who eats all the cakes.

Strange unexplained clouds seem to be a bit of a thing lately. There were a lot around on Wednesday, not only did our gardens here in Wimbledon Park get a good dousing, but so did the cyclists riding La Vuelta a España whilst in the mountains just north of Almería.

Meanwhile, the good folk of Birling Gap had to be evacuated from the beach due to an unexplained cloud too. Concerned, we called in the Doctor for a chat. Whilst unable to explain the exact nature of these unexplained mists, he did point out that all his emails are in the cloud and questioned their security!

Meanwhile, in south-west Sicily, scientists from the University of South Florida have discovered some storage jars in a cave on Monte Kronio. The exciting find put wine making in Italy as far back as 6000 years ago, about 3000 years earlier than originally thought. Until now it was thought that winemaking in Italy arrived with the colonisation by the Greeks in around 800 BC.

In Paris, thieves have tunnelled from the Catacombs into a private cellar and stolen around 300 bottles of wine valued at around €250,000. Police sources say “They didn’t tunnel by accident”. It’s unclear if any of the wine was Sicilian!

Back to School

Time to pick up the kids from Grandma’s house; they need to go to school next week. A more adult concern, Wine School starts here on Wednesday 4th October at 8pm.

Cost is £150 per person and there is no cross country running. Is your name on the register?

Back on the Shelf

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon (Barrel 594) is back in stock now and is still priced at £50.99.

We also managed to lay our hands on a few extra bottles of Japanese whisky too. Ask us for details.

Tasting This Weekend

On the white front we’ll have a guzzle of Fleur Solitaire Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2016 (£10.99) a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Viognier, 7.5% Roussanne, 7.5% Marsanne, 7.5% Clairette and 7.5% Bourboulenc, this is a fairly rich peachy style of wine, with a lot going on but never sacrificing its crispness.

The red corner will involve a wine from Toro in Spain. The Gran Colegiata Lagrima Tinto Roble 2014 (£12.99) is a very tasty drop made by the Fariña family that just happens to laze around in barrels for four months, having been made from only free-run Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo).

Lastly, Wayne thinks the new Queens of the Stone Age album ‘Villains’ is worth a listen, if you’re of a mind – Rock on!

Precious Things

August 25th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well I’m back, did you miss me? I’ve been on a road trip with my family and have learnt (and in some cases re-learnt) several things over the last fortnight. My kids concept of time is completely dependent on their environment. It would appear that time spent in a swimming pool zips by quicker than a trip in the Tardis, whilst time spent in the car seems to move more slowly with every minute being an hour like endurance. On the other hand the Alhambra really is beautiful, houses really do hang from the cliffs in Cuenca and oysters are as magnificent with Muscadet as they ever were.

Enough about me, how are you? Has Wayne been looking after you? He certainly doesn’t seem to have done much round here, just handed me the keys this morning muttering something about going for a beer with his father-in-law.

I see the football season has started in my absence, Huddersfield certainly seem to be enjoying themselves!

Vuelta a Espana is on, I didn’t see any yet, but I’m sure Wayne will have kept you up to date. It ends up in Cuenca today so I’ll relive a small part of my holiday!

Tomorrow sees the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup with England facing New Zealand in Belfast. Come on the Red Roses!

I’ve had a quick scan of the news this morning and the most interesting item I saw was that Mike D of the Beastie Boys has taken a job as a sommelier, helping to choose the list for a new Hollywood restaurant Hearth and Hound. Fight for your Right (to Chablis)!

In Germany, a supermarket in Hamburg took all the foreign products off the shelves in a bid to make a point about diversity. We thought it a brave move for a company to make, but a fine point well made that life would be poorer without Italian lemons, Spanish olive oil, and French wine…

Wine Course

Still some places left. Term starts Wednesday 4th October here at 8pm. £150 buys your seat at the table where you’ll taste around 60 wines, discuss their differences, and a whole lot more besides.

Precious Things

We still have a bit of Chocolate Block 2015 (£23.99 each or 6 for £120). It’s the first vintage where all of the fruit is from Swartland. A blend of 71% Syrah, 15% Grenache Noir, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cinsault and 1% Viognier giving us the rich and polished wine we’ve come to expect from Boekenhoutskloof. Don’t be shy, it won’t be around for ever.

Bank Holiday Monday – As usual we will be closed for the Bank Holiday.

Tasting This Weekend

Well I’ve been very keen to retaste the Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Pinot Noir 2014 (£21.49) that we bought recently. It’s from Nelson and we were really impressed the first time we tasted it in May.

So while I’m at it why don’t we go for the full Nelson and try their Chardonnay too. In which case, the white corner will be from the Upper Moutere in the shape of Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Chardonnay 2014 (£20.99).

If you’re planning grouse one of these should be perfect.

Cheers!

Wine in School, Tastings, and the Big Brother House

August 18th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Isn’t that sunshine glinting off your phone annoying? Doesn’t the sun know you’re trying to read something?  If only it would pop behind that puffy white cloud for just a minute.

This week I have had my annual communication with your colleagues, and am now armed with a lengthy database of people who are in the escalation business.  Some of you have returned from your travels, I have heard tales of the nightlife in Avignon, the beauty of Ljubljana, and the romance of a shipwreck bar in Cyprus.

I have also had communication from abroad. Alex wrote, wondering if his hat might be more useful on his head than in the window. I have heard nothing since sending the photo demonstrating how fine a job it was doing in the window.

One of our international correspondents checked in with tales of gales and monsoon rainfall in Adelaide, I found myself wondering of the similarities between Adelaide and Wimbledon Park last week.

Otherwise, I have had a number of lengthy conversations with the alarmingly large number of people who seemed concerned that my gas and electricity supplier may be overcharging. Despite assurances otherwise, they like to call everyday just to check I’m happy.

In a surprising turn of events, President Trump has been in the news this week. The man that takes no holiday, has returned from his golfing holiday sacked his business advisory councils, and wiped $5bn off the value of Amazon with one tweet. If only you could do something constructive with a tweet!

So how did the opening weekend of the Premiership fair for you? The large number of goals scored gave me comfort that Arsenal might not be the only team with a lacy defence. Elsewhere in football, Astana proved they should stick with cycling losing 5-0 at Celtic in the Champions League playoffs.

This weekend the proper sport kicks off again with the start of the Vuelta a España. Saturdays start sees a team time trial in Nîmes (I know, I thought it was in France too!). Will Chris Froome win this race as well? If he does, he’ll be the first person in 39 years to do the Tour de France/Vuelta a España double. Alberto Contador is retiring after the race so look out for a stage win from him, and also both of the Yates brothers are racing with Orica Scott putting out a very strong Grand Classification team. Pull up a chair!

In wine news this week we learned that Sarah Harding has been hiding bottles around the Big Brother house, and that researchers at the University of Graz have discovered a glass of wine helps with writers block. This is obviously something that would come as no surprise to either Dylan Thomas or Ernest Hemingway!

Congratulations to all the students receiving their A-level results this week. I know many of them shouldn’t be reading this, but please Mum & Dad, do convey our congratulations. We may have been using quill and parchment when we received our exam results but it still seems like yesterday.

Wine School

Still some places left. If you’d like to taste around 60 wines, learn about wine and have some spare evenings on a Wednesday do come and see us. Cost is £150.00

 

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
04/10/17 11/10/17 18/10/17 01/11/17 08/11/17 15/11/17

 

Cheese and Wine Tastings

There are still a few places left on each of these dates. £20 per person saves your place!

Thursday 5th October at 8pm

Thursday 2nd November at 8pm

Thursday 30th November at 8pm

 

Tasting this Weekend

We thought we’d start the weekend off with a drop of Monte del Frá Soave Classico 2015 (£13.99). One of those wines you may have drunk on holiday as it is from that beautiful part of Italy near Verona and the lakes. This one is made from 100% Garganega (rules state minimum 70%) grown at 150m on volcanic soils. Aromatic, with blossom notes and a crisp dry slight nuttiness that is really versatile food wise.

Staying with the food versatility theme, the red jumper will be sported by Percheron Old Vine Cinsault 2016 (£8.39). Don’t let it’s small price tag lead you astray, this is cracking glass of wine from gnarly 60 odd year old bush vines in the Western Cape. It is medium-bodied with soft tannins, savoury fruit character and spice to finish. An elegant wine that’ll go with almost anything food wise.

Smile, Thyme Square and Vouvray

August 11th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

Perhaps this from Spike Milligan will help.

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,

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

 

I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tasting this weekend

 

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

 

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

 

Pop in for a taste and give us a smile!

Exodus

August 4th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

And that would be the first paragraph written.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wayne & Alex