Dear Santa

December 9th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers, Dear Santa,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benromach 10 year old (£36.99)

Speymalt Macallan 2006 (£37.99)

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 (£38.99)

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 (£42.99)

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 (£45.99)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

They also have tastings at the weekend…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Promise again that we’ve been good,

 

Alex & Wayne

Big Mac’s & Brunello

December 2nd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

 Free Beer!

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

 Champagne and Birthdays

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

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

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

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

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

Port

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

Wine School

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

Tasting This Weekend

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

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

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

Whisky, Rully & Roero

November 25th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

We tasted the following all of which were showing brilliantly –

Speymalt from Macallan 2006 – £37.99

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 – £38.99

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 – £42.99

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 – £45.99

Ardmore 1996 – £72.99

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

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

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

Rully & Roero

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

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

Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2015 – £21.99

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

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

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

 

Thankful

November 18th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always thankful that we’re not turkeys.

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

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

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

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

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

Wine School

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

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

Tasting This Weekend

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

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

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

Thankfully, that’s it from us this week.

God bless America

November 11th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

And to win the 2020 Presidential Election:

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

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

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

Meanwhile, back in Wimbledon Park…

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

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

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

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

Who is this course aimed at?

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

What’s our goal?

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

What will we cover?

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

Weeks 1-3

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

Weeks 4 & 5

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

Week 6

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

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

What venue?

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

When?

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

What do I bring?

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

Cost – £150.00

Meanwhile, back in the here and now…

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

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

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

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

God bless America.

Guy Fawkes, Kings Ginger and Wine School

November 4th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

Isn’t Halloween great?

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

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

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

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

Isn’t Boris great?

Meanwhile, a small wine merchant in Wimbledon Park….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you can’t wait until January…

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

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

And…

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

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

Cheers,

Ostrich biltong has arrived – now, what shall we drink with it?

October 28th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week a couple of internet pranksters spent the night fooling around, sliding down bannisters and having a picnic in M&M’s World, pointing out to everyone the lack of an alarm system. No chocolate was harmed in the encounter.

Some West Ham fans demonstrated what fine upstanding people they are by ripping up seats and throwing coins at an 8 year old girl, in celebration of their victory over Chelsea. When did we travel back to the 70’s?

A poor, hapless waiter at the British Museum, last December knocked the thumb off of a priceless 2000 year old statue of Venus. The digit has since been restored but the news has only just come to light, with the British Museum assuring us that “all concerned individuals have been retrained”. We’re not entirely sure how you retrain a marble statue but there you are.

We also had the finale of Bake Off this week, there was the distinct smell of cake in the air as we headed home after the shop closed and apparently 15 million people were watching the final episode. I suspect the big winners are the sugar manufacturers…all that icing!

Poor old Jose Mourinho says he is leading a sad and lonely life in a hotel suite in Manchester and can’t even go out for a walk without the paparazzi following him. We couldn’t help wondering if a Mickey Mouse mask would help!

Someone has taken a sledgehammer to Donald Trump’s Star on Hollywood Boulevard. Apparently, previously somebody had built a small wall around it – sometimes you just can’t make it up, eh?

In wine related news, 2016 is globally one of the worst harvests in 20 years, with poor weather affecting mostly Europe but also South America. The shortfall is 15 million hectolitres or 1,950,000,000 bottles on 2015! That said, the guys in Bordeaux seem pretty pleased with the quality at harvest, particularly on the Left bank with the Cabernet. We’ll see as it unfolds, for the moment they’re still just being squished.

Wine School

Many of you have been asking when we’d start the new term of Wine School in the New Year.

New Term starts on Wednesday 25th January and continues for 6 weeks over a seven week period as we’ll take a break for half term (Wednesday 15th Feb).

Price remains at a pre-Brexit level of £150.

Full details are attached and we think it’ll make a fantastic Chrimble pressy.

New Stuff

Last week we mentioned a few Magnums, and the return of our Sloe Gin but completely forgot to mention our new Biltong. We’ve managed to get a small amount of something a little bit special from our usual supplier m-eat: Ostrich Biltong – 100g – £6.50.

Are We Your Favourite Shop In Wimbledon?

Voting closes this weekend so it’s the last chance saloon to vote for us, on this link…

http://www.timeout.com/london/lovelondonawards#/vote/wimbledon/shops

Now we appreciate this is a difficult decision to make so we’ve come up with a handy helper:

Is it owned by Alex & Wayne?

Does it sell Wine?

Is it called Park Vintners?

Should I vote for them then?

The answer to all the above questions is yes – ignore all other options on the ballot sheet!

Tasting this weekend

We’ll be rounding up our Rioja feature this weekend, it’s been fun and we’ve tasted some fantastic wines together. This weekend we’ll be featuring Lopez de Haro Crianza 2013 (£10.99) a cracking every day drop and Viña Arana Reserva 2008 (£23.59) which is our favourite from the talented crew at La Rioja Alta.

That’s about it from us for this week, don’t forget to vote!

Cheers!

Magnums, Claret and Donald

October 21st, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Some questions and thoughts for you to ponder that have arisen around the Park Vintners water-cooler/spirits tray this week…

 

  • If the US Presidential election has been ‘rigged’ in the way ‘The Donald’ seems certain of, then what is he going to do if he wins in November – call for a re-election, surely?

 

  • Is it possible to bet the double on Leicester winning the Champions League whilst being relegated from the Premiership?

 

  • Does Chris Froome believe in Bradley Wiggins?

 

  • If the pound reaches parity with the currency used over the channel, does that mean we have effectively joined the Euro? Certainly not a Brexit side-effect that was voted for…

 

  • Whatever happened to the bear in the porkpie hat? Hofmeister (low alcohol, low flavour, low cost) was put out to pasture in 2003 but apparently is about to be re-launched as a 5% abv Helles lager, made in Bavaria.  Was Kumbuka, the roving silverback gorilla who made a bid for freedom last week at London zoo, making an early audition for the adverts, which included necking a 5 litre cask of squash?

 

  • Wine is going to get more expensive – all our suppliers are telling us this and we understand. However, will it get cheaper if the pound strengthens?  We suspect not…

 

  • Did anyone know who ‘that chap in Manchester’ that Wayne referred to last week in relation to Bob Dylan was? Puzzled looks everywhere, here.

 

  • How do you solve a squeeze on finances? Buy lots of wine – which is what we did this week.

 

Every now and then we receive a catalogue from Forman & Field (strapline: Restaurant quality food direct to your door), which is the mail order side of H. Forman & Son, purveyors of quality smoked salmon and, we later learnt, £1,000 Christmas Hampers.  Anyway, we looked through the catalogue before lunch the other day, salivating gently and realising that the offering from Coop was not going to be able to match what we were seeing on the page.  We also observed, scattered through the catalogue, various bon mots to encourage you to buy – “The Queen said our brownies were the best she had ever tasted”,  “Oh my word! The best pudding ever. (Mr & Mrs Slater, East Dulwich)”, or “See page 88 for more gifts and gourmet hampers”. 

 

Our favourite, however, was: “Our advice: Order more than you think you’ll need!”

 

Brilliant.  So we did.  Not smoked salmon from them, mind, but Claret from other people.  Oh, and magnums.

 

Claret                       

2011     Chateau La Providence         Bordeaux Supérieur                          £12.49

2012    Chateau Deville                     Cotes de Bordeaux                            £11.89

2010    Diane de Belgrave                 Haut Medoc                                       £22.99

2006   Chateau Fourcas-Dupré       Listrac-Medoc                                    £23.99

2010    Chateau Fourcas-Dupré       Listrac-Medoc                                    £20.99

2010    Chateau des Cabans                         Medoc                                     £17.49

2005    Chateau Beau-Site                St Estèphe                                          £28.99

2009   Chateau Le Boscq                 St Estèphe                                          £40.99

2010    Chateau Brown                      Pessac Léognan                                 £36.99

2004   Clos Sainte Anne                   Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux         £16.99

2010    Jean-Pierre Moueix             Lussac Saint Emilion                        £15.99

2011     Chateau Chereau                  Lussac Saint Emilion                        £16.99

2010    Chateau Roudier                   Montagne Saint-Emilion                  £18.99

2009   Chateau Grand Barrail

Lamarzelle Figeac                 St Emilion Grand Cru                       £31.99

2010    Chateau Grand Barrail

Lamarzelle Figeac                 St Emilion Grand Cru                       £31.99

2006   Chateau Chantalouette         Pomerol                                              £33.99

 

Magnums                

NV       Moutard Grande Cuvee        Champagne                                        £60.00

NV       Moutard Prestige Rose         Champagne                                        £62.00

2009   Chateau Le Crock                  Saint-Estèphe                                    £70.00

2005    Chateau Liversan                  Haut-Medoc                                       £46.99

2010    St Emilion JP Moueix           St Emilion                                          £38.99

2005    Vieux Chateau Gaubert        Graves                                                £46.99

2000   Vieux Chateau Gaubert

DOUBLE MAGNUM              Graves                                                £125.00

2012    La Cote Sauvage

Cairanne                                 Rhone                                                 £29.99

2014    Meerlust Red                         Stellenbosch                                       £26.99

2012    Meerlust Rubicon                  Stellenbosch                                       £52.00

2012    Ramon Bilbao

Edition Limitada                    Rioja                                                   £31.99

2014    Talmard Macon Uchizy         Maconnais                                          £29.99

 

Rigged voting

 

By my reckoning, the best and most honest way to get votes rigged in your own favour, Mr Trump, is to appeal to the voting on a platform of honesty, integrity and personality and thus just get more people to vote for you.  Simple.

With this in mind, if you think we are displaying suitable levels of honesty, integrity and personality and, dare I say it, you think we are your favourite shop in Wimbledon and ‘should have gotten it!’, then please vote for us in the Time Out #LoveLondonAwards

 

http://www.timeout.com/london/lovelondonawards#/vote/wimbledon/shops

 

Rioja’n roll

 

If it’s October then it must be time for Rioja.  For the last three weeks, with your help, we have been sipping and slurping our way through the shop’s stocks of the finest wines from this gastronomic heartland, all in the name of #ShopRioja.  Long may this continue we say, and it will for this weekend and next certainly.

 

For this weekend we will be sampling two reds – it is definitely Autumn now – in two different styles.

 

Ramón Bilbao Edición Limitada 2o13 – £14.99. 

Rodolfo Bastida, winemaker since 1999 has a philosophy: ‘Winemaking can be like painting. You can use a big brush and a big pot of one colour to obtain something that’s pretty bland and uninteresting… Or you can use a small brush, with lots of small pots of different colours to give character and complexity.’  The wines have received much acclaim in the press and they were voted Winery of the Year in 2009 and again in 2014.

 

Made in the Crianza style, it is fermented in large oak barrel and then aged in French oak barrique for 14 months and then 9 months in bottle before release.  100% Tempranillo, 100% vegetarian, 100% vegan, 100% delicious.

 

Bodegas Ontañón Gran Reserva 2005 – £25.99.

Raquel, Ruben, Leticia and Maria Pérez Cuevas are part of the 5th generation of the Cuevas family to make wine in Rioja Baja -their father, Gabriel, inherited parcels of vineyards just outside the town of Quel on the higher slopes of the Sierra de Yerga mountain range.

 

A classic blend of Tempranillo with a splash of Graciano the wine spends 36 months in a mixture of American and French oak, and then 24 months in bottle prior to release.  We had this on our most recent wine and cheese tasting and it went down a storm – we have limited stocks currently and if you taste it I suspect you’ll work out why!

 

That’s it from us this week – come and taste some fab wines over the weekend and have a natter by the spirits tray – try some of our  back-in-stock Foxdenton Sloe Gin – £23.99 and put the world to rights.  Last words today will go to Mr Trump, good advice that we all should heed, particularly The Donald himself:

 

“Watch, listen, and learn.  You can’t know it all yourself.  Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity.”

Democracy in Action: We won last year, we’d dearly love to win again this year – it’s time to vote in the Time Out #LoveLondonAwards!

October 14th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How the devil are you? I can’t believe it’s almost a week since we spoke last. Lots has happened, both Alex and Wayne have managed to duck the double input of numbers required for the VAT return but with the deadline looming they’re going to have to pull their fingers out.

Wayne snuck off to swan around the West End for a lunch with a Champagne producer that held some unexpected lessons for him (more below).

We watched the England match, that’s 90 minutes we’re not getting back.

Jessica Ennis-Hill has announced she’s hanging up her boots (and javelin and shot) to retire at the top. We can’t help but wonder if it’s worth a friendly fiver on her being the next Bond?

Elsewhere… Donald Trump!!!

Bob Dylan has won the Noble Prize for Literature for creating “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”  I wonder how that chap in Manchester feels now?

Unexpected Lessons

I went to a Champagne tasting on Tuesday, Alex had tried some but not all of the wines before and I had tasted none of them until now.  Champagne Tarlant was the producer, a small grower Champagne with a long history, who are doing some really interesting things. I tried 8 wines in all (I know, we call it work!) but what really surprised me was the vintage wine. It was from 2003 and had spent 12 years aging on its lees.

So, 2003 was a really hot summer, certainly not ideal for the production of Champagne. I looked up some notes, and most of the Champagnes I have tasted from that year seem to have the word weird in the note somewhere.  This one too, but only because it was so different from any others I’d tried. So wonderfully fresh and alive, yet with a wonderful richness from the ageing. I really did get taught a lesson about generalising about vintages, I will definitely try and avoid such sweeping statements in the future. Vintage champagne 2003 weird…

Word to the Wise

Straight from the horse’s mouth…Pintia 2011 (£38) is drinking really nicely currently. A bottle made a guest appearance at a recent BYO evening and went down a storm. We have a small amount left.

Democracy in Action

We won last year, we’d dearly love to win again this year – it’s time to vote in the Time Out #LoveLondonAwards

There is only until the end of the month to tell the world we are your favourite shop in Wimbledon, assuming we are of course!

Please do follow this link and click on the box beside Park Vintners.

http://www.timeout.com/london/lovelondonawards#/vote/wimbledon/shops

Thank you very much.

Tastings up until Christmas

All tastings are now fully sold out for this year – sorry if you missed out, hooray if you didn’t!

Tasting This Weekend

Well, I’m not sure we’ll be able to top last week, it was probably our most successful tasting yet, with both wines going down a storm, and the Torres Altos Ibericos Parcelas de Graciano 2011, Rioja, Spain (£14.99)selling out completely (more on its way, don’t worry!) Alex seemed to think that just about every dinner party locally was tucking into something tasty from Rioja.

We’re staying with a winning theme and this week we will put Valenciso Reserva 2009 (£23.99) in the red corner. This is one of Alex’s favourites (he’s even been to visit!) and is certainly a style we both really enjoy.

White wise we’ll have Bodegas Ontanon’s Vetiver Rioja Blanco 2013 (£10.79) a wine lighter in style than last week’s offering, being made from 100% Viura.

Well, I think we’ll leave the last word to Mr Zimmerman:

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

Yes, ‘n’ how many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?

Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

— Blowin’ In The Wind, Bob Dylan 1962

#ShopRioja and talking cod

October 7th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What a week, eh? Conservative party conference whizzed by with all the hot air providing temporary localised warming over Birmingham.

UKIP’s new leader lasted a record breaking 18 days which suggests they could be the most difficult employer, even with strong challenges from both the Aston Villa and England football teams.

The real news this week though features a bit of most of the above. It seems that Cod speak with regional accents. On top of this, it seems that scientists at the University of Exeter are concerned for the future of the species. As global warming makes Cod head further north, there is confusion amongst cod, with males unable to ‘chat up’ females because of regional dialect.

The soft burr of Norfolk cod is almost unintelligible to those cod from Sunderland, whilst the fun loving cod from the Irish Sea are really struggling to understand the dark sense of humour of the Icelandic cod.

Full story here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/05/cod-may-have-regional-accents-scientists-say

Shop Rioja

This month we’ve had a chat with the lovely folk from Rioja Wine UK to join in with their “ShopRioja” campaign.

Vines have been grown here in the Cantabrian mountains forever it seems, with documentary records going back as far as 873 AD. Rioja was first legally recognised for wine production by the King of Navarra and Aragon in the 12th Century and documents indicate exports in the 13th century. Everyone got on with it, exporting, drinking, improving their lot, and then in 1926 the Consejo Regulador was founded to limit the production area, control the quality, and use of the name Rioja, a fine job that they do to this day.

Being as on the ball and newsworthy as ever, we thought we should investigate what all the fuss was about. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll taste and talk about the wines from Spain’s Rioja region. So come in and join us, we have some freebies and all sorts of stuff going on!

Time Out #LoveLondonAwards

You’ve all been lovely nominating us, we’ve made the shortlist, and now we’d really like to win. If you could take a second or two out of your schedule before the 31st October and vote for us we’d be eternally grateful. To make it even easier here is the link:

http://www.timeout.com/london/lovelondonawards#/vote/wimbledon/shops

I know we sound a bit needy, but thanks very much indeed!

Tasting this weekend

Well having banged on about ShopRioja we feel duty obliged to open some.

We shall populate the white corner with: Valenciso Blanco 2014, Rioja, Spain (£19.99) – A blend of 70% Viura and 30% Garnacha Blanca fermented and then aged for 9 months in Russian oak barrels.  Complex aromas combining pretty, floral characters with preserved lemon, truffle and smoky notes.  The palate is broad and well integrated with nuts and stone fruit characters.  Fresh candied peel, minerality and crisp citrus acidity on the finish.

Whilst wearing the red trousers will be Torres Altos Ibericos Parcelas de Graciano 2011, Rioja, Spain (£14.99) a relatively rare beast of a Rioja being made from just the Graciano grape variety. Dark coloured and rounded on the palate with blackberry fruit character and a balsamic note that’ll be marvellous with some lamb.

It’s a grape variety we are both really rather fond of so come in have a taste and see what’s washing down our Sunday lunch!

I think that’ll be us this week.

Cheers!