How’s your week been?

June 30th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How’s your week been? Ours hasn’t been bad, we’ve had a couple of meetings, tasted and listed some new wines, been to the pub. Mostly though, we’ve been moving boxes and catching up with Glastonbury on the interweb. We’ve enjoyed Foo Fighters, Chic, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Warpaint and couldn’t help but wonder if Liam Gallagher is growing up in his old age. Anyway, that’s enough of last week, looking onwards and upwards sees a jam packed agenda.

You’ll have seen the Wimbledon branded cars driving around on their practice runs the last two weeks (I’m sure they used smaller cars in the past, maybe saving on hotel rooms?). This can of course mean only one thing: Wimbledon fortnight is upon us! The Co-op will have sold out of all useful lunch items for the next few weeks so Alex and I will be on the microwave stew or Uncle Ben’s rice packs. More strawberries will be consumed in SW19 than the rest of the country, and Murray will likely have a five setter that’ll make us all late for supper. Sadly we’ve had no luck in the ballot this year, so we’ll be joining a queue at some point if we can manage it.

Greatest race in the world starts this week too. Saturday sees the start in Dusseldorf, a 14km time trial mostly along the Rhine, so nice and flat. It may well see Chris Froome take some early seconds out of the Grand Classification contenders.

I’m excited about this year’s Tour (isn’t he always?) as it’s a different kind of terrain to the last couple of years. Starting with tomorrow’s time trial, the penultimate stage is a time trial too, and there are quite a few long, relatively flat stages that should give us breakaways to cheer. Whilst all eyes maybe on Froome, Quintana, Porte and Aru for the GC, keep your eyes out for Simon Yates, a very strong contender for the White Jersey this year. You’ll recall his twin brother Adam wore it last year. As always, stay upright and avoid the motorbikes for three weeks to stay in the mix!

There is of course, to accompany your breakfast, a British & Irish Lions vs All Blacks fixture too. I’m not sure I should comment much after last week’s debacle but I am enjoying Mr Gatland’s continual confounding of the armchair team pickers. Farrell and Sexton have got to be an exciting prospect, surely?

Anyway, I started off by saying we’d bought some new wine so, moving swiftly on, I’ll tell you about the Volcanico Pais 2015 (£15.99), from Chile, or perhaps Samurai Shiraz 2016 (£10.99), which apparently tastes “like Australian sunshine and Ninjas” though I’d suggest black raspberry and eucalyptus is closer to the mark. It may be that Pinot Noir is more your thing, in which case I may mention Domaine Faiveley Mercurey La Framboisière 2015 (£23.99), which really does have a strawberry like character to its fruit, particularly in such a fine vintage as this.

I’ve mentioned three very different wines from three very different grapes and three very different countries. Want to know more about their differentiators?

Sign up to our Wine School

Autumn Term runs Wednesday evenings 4th Oct- 15th Nov with half term on 25th Oct.  

You’ll taste around 60 wines and the six week course costs £150.

Drop us a line or phone 020 8944 5224 to book your place.

If you are of an impatient nature then do not fret. We will have some wine open to taste this weekend, as usual.

We’ve had a look and none of our German wines are from Dusseldorf so we have instead decided to open a red and a white from the Pyrenees, made by an Englishman who is married to a Kiwi. We think that covers nearly all the bases, so roll up to the podium Domaine Treloar.

Domaine Treloar is a small family run estate based in Trouillas and we think they make possibly the best wines in the Roussillon. You can read more about them here:

http://www.domainetreloar.com/uk/ourStory.htm

In the White Jersey will be La Terre Promise 2015 (£16.99)Named after the Bruce Springsteen song “Promised Land”. A natural wine made from Macabeu (Viura), Grenache Gris and Carignan Blanc. Nothing is added during its conversion from juice to wine.”

Whilst the boot of the Commissars red car will be stocked with Le Ciel Vide 2015 (£11.49) Named after a Bruce Springsteen song “Empty Sky” which, for us expressed most clearly the memories of September 11th. This unoaked red is made from Syrah and Grenache.”

That’s it from us folks, have a great weekend!

Hot off the press!

June 23rd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, this week we’ve seen Andy Murray angle for a few extra days of Peppa Pig and training, rather than tournament play in the torturing heat.

Hottest day in June since 1976, they said. “In 1976 I was wearing short trousers and no tie” said Wayne. Plus ça change!

A couple of weeks ago we touched upon the fact that there was a British & Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand happening, and that breakfast was a difficult time to watch rugby.  Well we’re on the eve of the First Test. Six games of practice in the provinces has seen the Lions on the right side of the score line 4 times, and they appear, to this commentator, to be growing in confidence.

We’ve now looked at the squad that’s going to excite our breakfast tomorrow morning and, frankly, are somewhat concerned at cereal spillage. Whilst we’re a bit surprised to see George North making the sandwiches, we’re quite excited to see how the game pans out, with what appears, in some corners, to be a controversial team selection. So, set aside the Rice Krispies, we think this game could be more suited to three Weetabix!

This week we had The Queen’s Speech, only without pomp and circumstance! The crown arrived, not on one’s head as one might expect, but in its own car, atop a cushion to be placed in front of Her Maj. so as not to spoil the day. More of a Queen’s post-it we thought. Apparently, it has absolutely nothing to do with the diary clash with Royal Ascot and lots to do with random, unplanned elections, just like in 1974.

In our own attempts at avoiding pomp and circumstance we’ve seen that no matter how hard you try, a bicycle helmet cannot ride a bike without the relevant person attached to it.

Anyway, with all this setting out agendas we thought it wise to do the same.

Wine School – Autumn Term

Wednesday 4th October till Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 8pm.

£150 per person.

Wednesday 25th October off for half term.

Wine Tastings

Thursday 5th October at 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20

Thursday 2nd November at 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20

Thursday 30th November at 8pm – Christmas Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20

Thursday 7th December at 8pm – Champagne & Sparkling Tasting – £30

Tasting This Weekend

We’ve dug out our old Linguaphone cassettes and, after laughing at Wayne’s accent, put them away again. That said, the wines this week will all be speaking French, even if Wayne isn’t!

The coin blanc will host Les Grands Presbytères Muscadet Sur Lie 2014 (£10.99). Winemaker Nelly Marzelleau’s first vintage was at the age of 18 and she’s definitely got the hang of it, as you’ll taste here. Wild yeast ferment, old vine grapes, and many months of ageing on the lees all combine rather nicely to give us a lovely crisp drinker.

A la derrière de porte rouge will be Cotes du Rhone Villages ‘Le Coteaux’ 2014 (£10.99), a deliciously brambly number that is very tasty with all manner of barbecued items.

Au milieu we’ll be sporting a delicious pale pink number that goes by the name of Chateau de l’Aumerade (£13.99 each, or £72 for 6), by a long shot our best-selling wine of the year.

We think all three would make a great partnership to a spot of Glastonbury watching on the TV. Wellies are, of course, optional.

Bon Weekend!

We Need To Talk About Sherry

June 16th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So here’s a question – what’s in a name?

Take the name Terry, for example.

In the worlds of media, entertainment, music, literature, chocolate and Archbishop’s Special Envoys, we’ve got Terry & June, Terry McCann, Terry Thomas, Terry Hall, Terry Pratchett, Terry’s Gilliam and Jones, Terry’s All Gold and Chocolate Orange, Terry Wogan, Terry Nutkins, Terry Waite, Terry O’Neill, Terry Christian and Teri Hatcher.  Hooray.

Whilst over in sport we’ve got Terry Butcher, John Terry, Ross Terry (who he?), Terry Griffiths and Terry Venables, to name but a few.  Many of them were household names for large parts of their careers but equally as many of them are now consigned to history.  I asked my son to name someone called Terry and he came back with Terrymasalata.  Thanks.

Conclusion: Terry’s not a fashionable name anymore but does that make it any less good?

How about we try Jerry/Gerry next?

Gerry Adams, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Gerry Anderson, Gerry Francis, Geri Halliwell, Gerry Rafferty for the G’s, whilst under the letter J we have Jerry Bruckheimer, Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Springer Jerry can, Jerry Maguire, Jerry Rice, Tom & Jerry, Jerry Dammers, Jerry Garcia, Jerry Hall, and of course, Jerry Lee Lewis.  I didn’t ask my son this time but yet again a lot of old timers in there who don’t necessarily cross the younger generations path.

All very diverting but so what, I hear you say.

The other day we were ruminating on the perpetual failure of one of our favourite tipples, Sherry, to achieve everything it promises and step out of the fortified wine shadows into the limelight.  It’s a glorious drink, much beloved of the wine trade and their friends but it struggles to spread its appeal further.

Which got me to thinking, is the suffix ‘–erry’ to blame?  Does having an ‘erry’ in your name create a certain impression that perhaps relates to bygone times or naffness?  Blackberry, no longer the force in handsets that it used to be; cross channel ferry, now superseded by Eurostar; Mary Berry – exactly…

Let’s face it, how many famous people called Sherry can you name?  We thought we had one with Wimbledon Hockey star and Ed Sheeran girlfriend Cherry Seaborn but as you can see, she is actually called Cherry, so that doesn’t work; really the only famous Sherries are Pale Cream, Sweet and Harvey’s.

Anyway, our ruminating came to nothing, short of deciding that perhaps it could rebrand itself, losing the ‘–erry’ and becoming Sh-auvignon Blanc or Sh-rosé to improve sales, which was clearly not very helpful.

More helpful was Wayne’s idea to join in with Sherry Festival 2015 2016 2017 which has been going on for the last week or so and culminates this weekend.  His strategy was quite simple – put up a Sherry display in store, decorate the window with Sherry based memorabilia, wear a Sherry related polo-shirt and open lots of Sherry.  I like this man’s approach and that’s why he’s my business partner!

So, on show this weekend we will have:

Equipo Navazos Fino En Rama (37.5cl) – £10.99

Fernando de Castilla Classic Manzanilla (37.5cl) – £7.99

Fernando de Castilla Antique Palo Cortado (50cl) – £34.99

Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado (50cl) – £30.99

Fernando de Castilla Classic Oloroso (75cl) – £14.99

Cesar Florido Cruz del Mar Cream (37.5cl) – £8.99

Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado (37.5cl) – £8.99

Pedro Ximenez Colosía (37.5cl) – £15.99

What a spread, I can’t wait!

Interestingly, whilst everyone claims to prefer the dry styles and be somewhat dismissive of the sweet styles, referencing old ladies and blue rinses usually, our best-selling pair are the Moscatel and the Cream!  Nowt so queer as folk, as Wayne might say.

Please come and join us any time today or tomorrow, see if you prefer the sweet or the dry and help us in our crusade to save Terry and Jerry and, above all, Sherry!!

¡Olé!

The Perils Of Being Early, New Hall Bacchus and Powers Merlot

June 9th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Aaaaagh – the folly of writing the blog the evening before…. sometimes nefarious goings on in the darkest hours of the night can come along to make an absolute nonsense of what previously seemed half decent!

So, with time pressing hard, we have decided to plough ahead with what we wrote and be done with – the orginal email, written on Thursday, is below in normal font, our edits from today are in italics, let’s see how we get on…

Not wishing to get political but who saw that coming!

Blimey, that was more prescient than we intended. 

Moving swiftly on, in spite of all the Champagne corks popping last night, it would seem that the Champagne houses, particularly the biggest beasts such as Nicolas Feuillatte, are struggling a little.

They are the third largest champagne brand in the world, and reportedly last year sold 10.4 million bottles the world over, a drop in sales of 4%, or 400,000 bottles, on the previous year.  In money terms this was a loss of €13 million.  Now, apparently, this drop in sales was “solely” due to the “marked decline” in UK volume sales of Champagne – no mincing words there and one has to wonder where these sales have gone.  Talking to our chap from Thienot the other day, he too mentioned that the British market has become a harder nut to crack over the last few years, with sales growing very slowly and the bigger brands acting more aggressively.

Small growers haven’t reported similar declines, for example our favourite Moutard chaps produce somewhere in the region of 560,000 bottles per annum, perhaps it’s them who have taken the Feuillatte sales….

Happy with all of that – the facts haven’t changed since yesterday.

Or perhaps it’s Laura?

This Saturday is, according to our sources at Mumsnet (don’t ask…), WORLD GIN DAY.  Now in its 9th year it is a global celebration of all things Gin on the second Saturday of June.  I know, we’d never come across it before either, so thanks MN (see, we even have the lingo… what have we become).

Anyway, back to Saturday.  World Gin Day, yattedy yattedy ya.  A simple idea of getting people together all around the world with a legitimate excuse to drink some gin, whether it’s in a cocktail, G&T or neat.  Nice.

This all seems good but I have a feeling the wheels are about to come off…

And now for the bit that makes us seem clever-clever when actually we’re not.  Months ago we asked Laura from Little Bird, the gin of Peckham, to come in and do a tasting with us, and of course, you – what better way prepare for Saturday than to have some rehearsal gins on Friday evening.  Clever-clever, if we’d had any inkling of the existence of World Gin Day before 5pm on Thursday…

Laura will be here from about 5.30pm for a couple of hours and is under strict instruction to parry any political comments or questions with the words ‘try some of my Gin, it’s delicious!’

Laura has, unfortunately ,had to duck out of tonight’s tasting, citing personal circumstances but promises to be here in two weeks time, Friday 23rd June – don’t worry, we’ll remind you!  Apologies all round….

Oh, and to explain the slightly obtuse ‘Or perhaps it’s Laura?’ comment above: it would seem that whilst a glass of Champagne used to be the aperitif of choice in many restaurants, bars and hotels in the past, it is now more common for a cocktail or spirit based drink to be the choice before a meal, and Gin is leading this charge.

So, yes, it’s Laura.

Yep, that works still.

eto update

If you signed up to the eto newsletter beforehand you will already know that the chaps went live at midday on Tuesday.  You may not know though that they fulfilled their funding needs within 32 hours!  Astonishing.  You can still sign up and join in the fun and the really great news is that the project will go ahead.  Pob lwc!

Lots of sport this weekend, so be warned that Alex might be distractedly trying to coordinate Rugby/Cricket/Tennis watching whilst ensuring Wayne doesn’t get distracted by the Criterium du Dauphiné – who will win?!

So, Gin is over the yardarm at 5.30pm, Alex and I will be at the top of the queue… see you there!

Cheers,

Wayne & Alex

Still good news about eto and we can re-use this last gin bit in two weeks time.

However, this does leave us short on what to taste this weekend.  We, of course, will have our usual range of gins open should you still want to rehearse in time for tomorrow. 

On the wine side, as we missed the whole of English Wine Week in the fog of half term, we have decided to open New Hall Bacchus Reserve 2015 (£12.99) which comes from East Anglia, the posh name for Essex it would seem.  Anyway we find the gentle elderflower notes really quite more-ish so don’t be backwards in coming forwards.

For the red, for no reason better qualified than we quite fancied it, we have Powers Merlot 2012 (£13.99) which has voyaged all the way from Columbia Valley, Washington and is a constant reminder of how polished Merlot can be!

Finally, all next week we will be tasting and talking about Sherry here in the shop, as part of the Sherry Wines Sherry Festival 2017 – come and grab a copita!

That’s it from us – we’ll be opening later on Tuesday just so you know, we’re in town for a tasting over lunchtime but we’ll be back by four.

Edit done.  Press send.

Provincial Barbarians, Lambrusco and eto Decanters

June 2nd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week finds us all celebrating the beast that is half term. Unless, of course, you’re in the middle of GCSE’s in which case, stop reading this and get on with your studying, you’re not even supposed to be reading this!

For those of us not involved in exams there is plenty of sport to look at this weekend. It all kicks off during your breakfast on Saturday,  as the British & Irish Lions kicks off in style against New Zealand’s Provincial Barbarians at 8.35am our time. Somehow breakfast seems a bit early for rugby to me, but maybe that’s because I’m used to watching it in the pub!

At the Oval we have Sri Lanka and South Africa slogging it out in the ICC Champions Trophy (cricket if you were wondering).  The tournament started Thursday (with England beating Bangladesh by 8 wickets) and culminates with the final on Sunday 18th June.

On the golf front, Tiger Woods tough year got even worse when he underestimated the ‘may cause drowsiness’ line on his medication. Personally I’m not entirely sure what was gained by releasing the video of the incident, but at least a website somewhere got more hits…

In the tennis we’re at Roland Garos, where Johanna Konta’s clay gremlins struck again, sending her out in the first round, whilst Andy Murray is through to the third round to face Juan Martin del Potro. Novak Djokovic is hoping the presence of ‘super coach’ Andre Agassi relocates his mojo.

In real sports we’d offer our congratulations to Tom Dumoulin, who became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia, snatching victory from Nairo Quintana in a time trial on the last day. This weekend sees the Criterium du Dauphiné starting, always viewed as a bit of a warm up for the Tour de France so many of the big players are lining up. Va va Froome.

On the political front it’s all shouty, shouty, strong many, few stable, poorly rehearsed and hiding in the shed. Still, it’ll be over this time next week!

Wine wise, as has become a bit of a tradition whilst Alex is away, a couple of new wines turned up this week. Vigna Marina Coppi Sant’ Andrea Barbera 2015 (£21.99) is a wine we’ve been trying to get on the shelf for a while. They say “all comes to he who waits”, and this is a lovely polished and rounded Barbera with cherry and wild strawberry fruit and a lovely freshness to the finish. As an aside Marina is the daughter of Fausto Coppi, the first man to win both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year! The estate is run by Marina and her son Francesco.

Staying with an Italian theme, that Lambrusco we teased you all with a while back is here too. Villa Cialdini Lambrusco Graparossa (£15.49) is from an estate south of Modena owned by the Chiarli family since 1860. Since the construction of a state of the art winery in 2002 they have been producing top quality Lambrusco that is way more delicious and moreish than we imagined, and also the perfect partner to some barbecued chicken.

We’ve also listed a local Vodka (is 41 miles local?). Blackdown Sussex Vodka (£28.99) is the first Vodka to be produced in Sussex. Made from 100% British wheat grain, it is copper pot distilled, and then charcoal filtered seven times to create a smooth and refined Vodka, and finished with a hint of Sussex Silver Birch sap to add a delicate sweetness. The Silver Birch sap is tapped once a year in early spring and is sourced within the 40 acres of woodland which surround Blackdown.

eto

We’ve just heard from Tom Cotton at eto. We promised to keep you up to date when the Kickstarter campaign happened for his wine decanter, so here’s what we know…

****Hot off the press eto launch date Tuesday 6th June 2017!!!****

eto HQ is excited to announce eto will be going live on Kickstarter at midday GMT on Tuesday 6th June….*klaxon*

There will be a limited number of etos at ‘Super Early Bird’ heavily discounted prices – they will be snapped up in hours – so don’t delay in choosing your reward! If you miss these specials don’t worry the Kickstarter price is still a bargain.

We have crunched the numbers and set ourselves the minimum goal we need to tool, manufacture and ship eto to the UK for final distribution. The minimum amount we need is £55,000 and our Kickstarter campaign will last 30 days.  But as we said those Super Early Bird & Early Bird specials when they’re gone they’re gone, so don’t delay!

NB Kickstarter is an all or nothing crowd funding site, so if we don’t make our goal there will be no etos produced.

If you want to get involved on Tuesday 6th, then sign up before hand to the eto newsletter at: www.etowine.com in order to receive the link to the Kickstarter site on Tuesday 6th.

Those of you familiar with Kickstarter may prefer to search their website on the day. The choice is yours!

Tasting this Weekend

Attitude Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (£13.99) from the Pascal Jolivet estate will be holding court in the white corner, crisp with great concentration of fruit flavours, perfectly balanced with herb notes, a mineral touch and a crisp, vibrant finish. We’d suggest some sea bass with some roast Jersey Royals.

The red corner will be up till the early hours as it hosts Vivir Sin Dormir 2015 (£12.39) 100% Monastrell.  100% Organic.  A real favourite of ours, Monastrell, very much the main grape in Jumilla which is inland, west of Alicante.  Enormously appealing ripe red and spicy black fruits abound, with just a gentle grip of tannin.  Fabulous finish and a typically Spanish red – works with all manner of food choices, we were thinking perhaps something over coals…

Finally, we renewed our electricity contract this week, and are dead chuffed to announce that our lights are on, the wine is chilled and the till powered by 100% renewable electricity.

That’s it from us this week folks!

Tinkerbell Effect Proven, Provence Rosé and Little Bird Gin

May 26th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

No, no please, don’t be silly, there’s no need to thank us, it’s you who made this happen, we were just doing our job and we’re simply delighted that you can benefit from the fruits of your own labours…

If you recall, last week we wrote:

Oh, for crying out loud, when is it all going to end?  Months we’ve been waiting for a glimmer of hope, a ray of sunshine, a jacket-free day.  We’ve had a couple of nice half-days dotted around…. Perhaps it’s time for the Tinkerbell effect to step in – if we all start drinking Rosé, having barbecues, arranging picnics and cricket matches, then the sun might start to get the message.

And you heard our call to arms.  In spite of the fact that jeans and sweaters were still the uniform on Saturday, you did us proud.  You bought rosé purely on the basis that we suggested you should, we could smell the barbecue smoke and hear the sizzling steaks from late afternoon and we could hear laughter and the clinking of glasses and the crashing of cricket balls clattering into greenhouses– people, you were outside, in spite of the weather, metaphorically applauding with all your might to show a small fictitious fairy that you believe in her.

And what happened next?

Blazing sunshine on Sunday.  Admittedly, a bit muggy on Monday and Tuesday but I think there was more activity in the gyms of SW19 than carousing in the garden.  Scorching on Wednesday and back on track, as the fridges began emptying once more.  Similar but better on Thursday, in all respects.  Today, mostly sunny and pleasantly warm (27c!) according to a very understated accuweather report – fridges full, until the schools are out at least!  And, dare I say it, it looks like it might continue into the BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND but only if you keep on taking the medicine!

To do our bit to help, we will be opening:

Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2016

Côtes de Provence Cru Classé £13.99

or

A rather splendid offer of Six Bottles for £72

The Chateau de L’Aumerade is a 400 year old vineyard in the heart of Provence. Its red soils are rich in minerals, giving it an edge on the quality stakes amongst its neighbours. This edge was recognised in 1956 when the estate was designated “Cru Classé”.  A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish.  The perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with a deck chair and a smile!  Our bestselling wine, overall, for the last few years – we are already outstripping last year’s sales and we haven’t had any ‘real’ weather yet!

When Wayne is not out and about tasting wine, cycling, holidaying, camping, ironing shirts or drinking beer, he does spend a large portion of his time here, in the shop, selling wine.  Oh, and Gin.  As a result of his plentiful interactions with all things juniper, last year we listed a Gin from Peckham – Little Bird.  Laura from Little Bird has created a small batch gin with a seductive pink-grapefruit nose and a fresh juniper and citrus tang on the palate that gives way to luscious, velvety orange peel with an underlying sweetness and zesty finish.  That’s what she told us when we first met her and, to be honest, she wasn’t wrong.

If you would rather make up your own mind though, Laura will be in the shop in two weeks time, on Friday 9th June from about 5.30pm we believe, tossing around cocktail shakers and wearing an ironic beard and topknot.  Or perhaps, not – either way come and visit and enjoy the finest thing out of Peckham since, well, ever!

Laura – Little Bird – Friday 9th June – 5.30pm – don’t worry, we’ll remind you.

For those of you ‘blessed’ with half term next week, good luck.  As half term encompasses a bank holiday on Monday our opening hours are slightly different his weekend:

Saturday – 10am – 6pm

Sunday & Monday – CLOSED

Tuesday – Business as usual

But, ideally, you’ll all be on a beach in Cornwall, so this shouldn’t affect you.  Ideal.

For those of you keeping the lights on here, alongside the fabulous Rosé on tasting, we will be opening a nice barbecue red, Three Peaks 2014 £12.99, from our chums at Domaine Treloar.  The vineyard is overlooked by three Pyrenean peaks, hence the name, and the wine is a classy blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache.  Rich and spicy from the 12 months spent in used French oak barrels, it shows lovely crushed forest fruit character, a touch of earthy minerality and maybe even a hint of leather.  Perfect with some seared barbecued treats!

Now that’s it from us – it’s been a horrible week, so if you do one thing this weekend then please, raise a glass to absent friends – Valete!

Wayne & Alex

The Tinkerbell Effect

May 19th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hepple Gin – £38 – whilst stocks last…

Let’s vote Tinkerbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on rockin’!

Wine Leather?

May 12th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.decanter.com

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

Park Vintners Wine Club

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

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

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

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

Tasting This Weekend

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

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

That’ll be us then.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Frost, elections and albatross

May 5th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Man: Albatross! Albatross! Albatross!

Customer: Two choc-ices please.

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

Customer: What flavour is it?

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

Customer: Do you get wafers with it?

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

Customer: How much is it?

Man: Ninepence.

Customer: I’ll have two please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting this Weekend

On the white front we’ll open Domaine Boeckel Pinot Blanc Reserve 2015 (£13.79) a wine we threatened to open a few weeks back but never quite got round to it. The wine is a bit of a charmer… Gently floral on the nose as you’d expect and the palate is crisp with citrus and orchard fruit notes, a central vein of minerality and a lively, crisp finish.

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

Gannet on a stick!

Wayne & Alex

Who turned the thermostat down?

April 28th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This cold snap has certainly caught us all out. Wayne had to get his gloves out having watched his fingers turn blue on the ride home Monday night; Alex has got his running hat out of the winter drawer and we’ve had several disappointing reports from the continent too!

Champagne was struck by a sudden frost this week, which is not so unusual in itself but the mild weather in March has caused the vines to be a bit ahead of themselves. Our chum Benoit Tarlant, whose delicious Champagne Tarlant Zero (£39.99) we stock, was sadly quoted this week as having “a potential 70% loss of the house’s 2017 vintage, with almost its entire Chardonnay crop having been wiped out.”

Even as we write this, Vignerons across Bordeaux are assessing the damage to their vineyards after this week’s cold snap, too. Ex-pat winemaker Gavin Quinney, in typically erudite fashion, described it as “Squeaky bum time”.

But should it be catching us all out? I notice that this very same week last year, we wrote:

“Fellow Wine Lovers,

Unfortunately, you can lay the blame squarely at our door this week.  Confident that the rain on Monday was the last dampness we’d see until September, we decided to write this message on our blackboard outside:

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND – Is this the official start of the Rosé season?  I think it probably should be!

And I think you all know what happened next – hail, snowstorms and stair-rod rain, blue skies interspersed with darker-than-night grey clouds, stiff breezes, all rounded off by a rumbling thunderstorm on Wednesday evening.  Well, at least the storm cleared the humidity…!

Living in the UK has made us stoic when faced with poor weather and it has been a pleasure to be selling plenty of Provence Rosé all week in spite of the climate – it’s the stiff upper lip, it’s the blitz the spirit, it’s the ‘this could be as good as summer gets so let’s pretend we’re on the Côte d’Azur’.

18 Celsius and bright sunshine in Cannes, as I write.

So, do we all forget, do we have enormously short term memories, or do we all just prefer to stroll on the sunny side of the street?

Elsewhere, Mayor of London Sadiq has pulled the plug on the controversial Garden Bridge –  only £46 million of public money has been wasted or about 23 state of the art MRI scanners, if you prefer!

Otherwise, there’s campaigning for a general election with all sorts of claims being made by all parties. I’m beginning to wonder about Mark Twain’s words… “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it”

Bank Holiday Monday

We’ll be closed, as usual…

New Beer

Frankie, from Park Brewery in Kingston, swung by with a delivery this week. She and Josh have a new seasonal brew on the go…

Reasons To Be Cheerful (£2.89) is a new IPA dry hopped with Amarillo and an Aussie interloper Vic Secret. This brings an orangey, citrus sweetness to the front palate with a nice bitterness keeping it tidy and fresh in the finish. You may have noticed it is named after a song by Ian Dury, who has a bench dedicated to his honour at Poet’s Corner in Richmond Park. Brilliant name for a beer!

Tasting this Weekend

In the white corner we’ll be visiting Beiro Atlantico in Portugal, for this is the home of Luis Pato’s Maria Gomes 2015 (£11.99). A white that is wonderfully fresh and aromatic in its grapey nose, then with a broad, smooth texture in the mouth with melony flavours and a beautifully pure finish. What’s more, it’s just 12.5% too!

Red wise, we’ll be journeying to the Riebeek Valley in Swartland for a glass or two of Post Tree Pinotage 2013 (£9.99). It displays bags of juicy red berry fruits, rounded tannins and a nice elegant finish. We’d suggest this as a marvellous partner to some spicy roast chicken, give the chicken a rub with either some Jerk Seasoning or Ras El Hanout and roast in the usual fashion. Yum!

That’s it from us this week, enjoy the long weekend!