March 23rd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

In spite of Monday’s best efforts to make us throw in the towel and acknowledge the fact that we may never be warm again, Tuesday heralded the start of Spring, according to our calendar at least, if not the mercury.  However, Wednesday was proof that if we persist we might just get to wear shorts this year.  Thursday was just a bit ordinary but noticeably warmer than earlier in the week and this weekend, whilst we have a 90% chance of precipitation (rain rather than snow, we hope), the Celsius readings are due to reach double figures and stay there for a bit.  Next week seems to be promising 100% chance of light rain every day and with that we will swiftly move into April, and her showers….


British Summer Time.  This Sunday, however, we get less sleep as the clocks ‘Spring’ forward and we welcome Summer Time, which will allow us to watch all the rain fall in clearer daylight, for longer.


Ben Stokes Ton.  No, not even Ben Stokes two.  The lazarine return of our favourite nightclubber was nothing to shout about.  But then he wasn’t alone.  The paddling of ducks contained 5 members – Root, Bairstow, Moeen, Broad and, of course, Stokes – no acknowledged batsmen in there obviously.  Bring on plenty more rain delays I say – lovely weather for ducks!


Bitcoin Security Turmoil.  Ledger Nano S was a supposedly untamperable hardware wallet to keep your crypto-currency millions safe.  Until it was tampered with by a young British lad, four months ago.  Apparently they’ve fixed it but it does ask quite a few questions.  Just checked the cash in my jeans pocket – untampered.


But Seriously Though.  Facebook, Google, all of you, we all know you harvest our data and we willingly sign up to this in return for convenience, interaction, socialising and the rest.  Just try and keep it safe-ish, would you?


Big Supplier Taxed.  So, we’re not best pals with big booze retailers, for reasons that should be obvious.  As suggested last week, we feel little sympathy for Conviviality who happen to own two of the biggest alcohol wholesalers, Bibendum and Matthew Clark, and also, on the high street, own Wine Rack and Bargain Booze.  The story goes that last week they issued their second profit warning in a week, when they ‘discovered’ a £30 million tax bill due for payment at the end of the month.  £30 million.  Where was that letter hiding and who was meant to open it?

Anyway, they have now released another profit warning and are looking to raise not £30 million but £125 million (!) – they need  cash to resolve overdue payments with creditors, to settle payments with tax authorities, to repay a £30 million revolving credit facility and provide enough capital headroom to allow it to recapitalise the business.  So, within a week they have quadrupled their funding requirements, which to us looks like a business doomed.  Control that Schadenfreude, Alex.


Big Spirits Tasting.  Well, for the most part it’ll be Gin actually.  We’ve been trying to get a tasting like this off the ground for a while now and finally we have found someone willing to indulge us.

Step forward Alexander, superstar cocktail maker and world class gin expert at Sacred, our new gin supplier from Highgate.  Now, as mentioned before, we are stocking his original Gin, his Juniper Gin and his Cardamom Gin and also his English Peated Whisky.  So, we thought it would be a nice idea to get him in to do a tasting for us and, of course, you.  By all accounts he’ll show us a few of his different styles of Gin and some Vermouth, mention was also made of Negroni and also some sort of summer cup – suffice to say, an evening will be had!


Payment confirms attendance as we fully expect to sell this quite quickly!


Beach Shorts Time aka Bank Holiday Survival Training.  Next weekend is the Easter weekend and as a result of various intricacies too mundane to list here, we will be closed Good Friday through to, and including, Easter Monday.  Whilst the beach short reference above might imply we are off to the sunny seaside, this is sadly just a whimsy.  So, just to make it crystal:

Thursday 29th March – OPEN AS USUAL – 11am – 8pm

Friday 30th March – CLOSED

Saturday 31st March – CLOSED

Sunday 1st April – CLOSED

Monday 2nd April – CLOSED

Tuesday 3rd April – OPEN AS USUAL – 11am – 8pm

In fairness, the Easter weekend is by far the quietest weekend of the year and since it falls at the beginning of the school holidays we fully expect an unruly exodus on Thursday evening – so come and see us before then!


Blood, Sweat and Tears.  It’s been a hard week and you’ve all slaved away, perhaps we can offer you a taste of something on your way home this evening?

We’ll open Pauletts Polish Hill River Aged Release Riesling 2010, Clare Valley, Australia – £18.99 because we just love it and it’s the ‘new’ vintage.  Light straw in colour with a toasty honey nose.  Citrus flavours, predominantly lime, couple up nicely with excellent fresh acidity and a long clean finish and frankly it’s Riesling with age, what’s not to like?

For the red fans we’ll open an old favourite Casal de Paula 2015, Ribeiro, Spain – £15.49, which we last opened a calendar year ago – happy birthday as it were.  Four grapes equally make up the blend here, household favourites Brencellao, Ferron, Mencia and Souson and it hails from Ourense, right up there on the Spain-Portugal border.  Medium bodied with juicy, summer berry fruits and a lovely, long and fleshy finish.  Reminded us a bit of the reds we enjoy from the Loire, see what you think!


Bye-Bye, So long, Ta-ta.  That’s it from us.

In case you haven’t realised yet, Summer time starts on Sunday, don’t forget to change your clocks!

Blinkers, tongue straps and coloured silks….

March 16th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, it seems to have come round to this again rather quickly and I didn’t even write last week’s missive. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a rarity for me to write this around this time. I’m often away for this week, something to do with how busy my wife is and how sun-starved I feel, often finds me lurking a bit further south than Wimbledon Park. The consequence of which is that I normally miss Cheltenham week and St Patricks Day.

Not this year folks, as I write this I am honing my tipping skills, replenishing my account with my online bookmaker (give me a break we’re already three days in!) and hoping for a winner. Anecdotally, I can say that the best looking horses don’t win, the horses that lurk near the back sometimes do win all of a sudden just when you are serving a customer and picking a horse you’ve won on before is not a sound strategy. I’m glad I don’t have to run up that hill though, I’ve always hated cross country.

The real takeaway from the whole process is though how much mud, grass and horses interfere with the smooth running of a wine shop. Alex has done no work all week except to save a few numbers on a spreadsheet and I’m no better, a couple of boxes down the stairs and a cursory swish round with the broom. Other than that it’s been blinkers, tongue straps and coloured silks.

Looking at the Gold Cup, Alex is having his pennies each way on Total Recall, whilst Wayne has staked his each way on Road to Respect. The lucky pin has now gone back in the drawer till the Grand National!

Elsewhere in the world we appear to have returned to my teenage years. Tit for tat diplomat expulsions were all the rage when I was a youngster.  Everyone did it: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, us, even the USA! We are, of course, hoping this doesn’t mean we’re about to witness a return of Leo Sayer and The Flying Pickets to the Hit Parade.

In other news, Southampton have decided that Mark Hughes is a better managerial option than Mauricio Pellegrino. Personally, I’ve always found it puzzling that Mark Hughes is always available when a manager gets the chop. It all went a bit Messi for Chelsea, who have subsequently decided to concentrate on the Premiership.

This weekend is the last of the Six Nations Rugby with England hosting newly crowned Champions Ireland at Twickenham. An improvement on the last couple of performances is needed if we’re to end the day drinking Bitter rather than Guinness.  Wales host France and Italy compare their collection of wooden spoons with the Scots in Rome.

On the wine front it would appear that Conviviality, owners of Wine Rack and Bargain Booze, had forgotten they need to pay HMRC £30 million quid, and have suspended their shares as a result.

Bordeaux estate Cos d’Estournel have created a limited edition wine called Cos 100.  The 2015 vintage wine from a plot of 100 year old Merlot vines planted in 1915 by a group of women during the First World War, is being sold selling in 100 double magnums.  If you fancy one it’s yours for a mere €23000 from their website.

In a more realistic wine experience, tradition dictates that we will open something to taste for the weekend.

Tasting This Weekend

Crios Torrontes (£15.79) from Argentina is our pick this week for the white corner. Made by Susana Balbo, one of Argentina’s most celebrated wine makers, it is crisp, dry and aromatic, and we think it’s a wow with smoked fish and spicy dishes.

Whilst the green packaging on the Crios may appeal for a St Patrick’s Day link, we can’t decide if the wine in the red corner should be horse or rugby related.

Monte del Fra Valpolicella Ripasso (£18.49) a deliciously rich velvety drop from the Veneto. Plump in the mouth with spiced cherry fruit character, it’ll certainly be very tasty with a spot of roast Shergar.

We’ll leave you this week with the words of Stephen Hawking:

“remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet”


Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

March 9th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

That’s all from us, have a great week, see you soon!

Wayne & Alex


And that’s how the weekly email gets written.  We formulate a rough essay plan over an espresso or two at our morning sales meeting and then draw straws as to who then has to put the flesh on the bones.  The straw ‘winner’ of the day then settles himself in front of the laptop and fires up the search engine.

First search: snow’s gone – first hit: Josh Ritter Lyrics – Snow Is Gone – AZLyrics

Second search: march marches on – first hit: march | Definition of march in English by Oxford Dictionaries

Third search: what have you bought for Mum? – first hit: what have you bought for your mum’s 60th Birthday present…

Unmoved by the Americana of Josh Ritter, uninspired by the varied definitions of march and unamused that Mother’s Day wasn’t the first hit when Mum was mentioned, we embark on a final search:

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

Bizarrely, the first hit here is: Now more than ever, the youth are relying on the bank of mum and… therein lies a story for another day, I reckon.

But we still haven’t really got any flesh for the bones yet.

We spent a whole page of this email this time last year discoursing on Mothering Sunday originally relating to the church of your baptism (mother church) and not your actual mother mother, before it got reinvented by the gift card business post WWII and became the Mother’s Day of Milk Tray and daffodils.

So we can’t use that again this year.

We also can’t give any tips for Cheltenham next week because neither of us have done any ante post business as, frankly, we are struggling to find value – and to be fair, we’re pretty useless tipsters anyway, so we are saving everyone a few quid here.

So we can’t use that here either.

We can’t even go on a diatribe about St Patrick and seek out some appropriately named drinks for 17th March because that is next weekend, so sensible to keep our tinder dry until then.

Not even any Rugby to talk about… oh hang on, there is some, but after the mauling at Murrayfield we are keeping a very low profile and again, avoiding predictions.

Spurs got knocked out in the football, Liverpool and Man City didn’t and Arsenal have all to play for when they entertain the Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club back in London next week.

But this still isn’t really putting any flesh on the bones.

As a distraction (?) though, when we searched for the history of drawing straws, we discovered that ‘if a local or national election has resulted in a tie in which candidates receive exactly the same number of votes after three recounts, the winner can be decided either by drawing straws/lots, coin flipping’ (Wikipedia).

And it’s not just Wikipedia making things up,  this actually happened last year, last May in fact, in the South Blyth local election in Northumberland.  The eventual winner, Lib Dem Lesley Rickerby said the following to ITV:

“It’s unbelievable that when you consider we have a democratic service that we end up having to draw straws.  It was very traumatic and I certainly would have preferred it to be a majority, but the way our system works, after a couple of recounts, we had no choice.

The returning officer decides if we would flip a coin or draw straws and he went with straws.”

Who knew Alex & I were following such precise political processes?

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

Anyway time to get back on message now, a page and a half written and we’ve got exactly nowhere.  The snow disappeared overnight last weekend, much to the chagrin of the local school children but not the local shopkeepers.  February is now long gone and March is forging ahead – we like this, as every day we get closer to the switch to summertime which, I think we can all acknowledge, is a very good thing.

And now to Mother’s Day.  The opportunity to give your Mum a treat on Sunday is one that should not be missed – it’s one day in the year to treat her like a Queen and, from what I’ve heard, she’s a saint and you don’t deserve her!

Furthermore, she’s given us a shopping list…

Yes, she would definitely like some flowers but not ones from the florist that also sells petrol.  Ditto chocolates, but ones that have actually been bought recently, not re-gifted.  Oh, and she would also like a drink.  She’s a bit over Prosecco but could be persuaded to a glass or two of Beaumet 2007, with its delicious leesy richness.

She is also very keen to experiment with Gin: she believes it has an undeserved reputation in relation to mothers and the ruin thereof.  She would therefore like to dispel this myth once and for all and, having read, in the Daily Telegraph a while back, that nice Victoria Moore say ‘it might be the best martini gin I’ve ever tasted’ with regards to Hepple Gin, thinks this is a good place to start.  Her words, not mine.

Flowers – £?

Thorntons Chocs – £?

Beaumet 2007 – £35.99

Hepple Gin – £38.00

Should you feel the need to provide something a tad more vinous in substance, might we suggest one or both of the wines we are opening this weekend?

Domaine Alexandre Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2016 – £19.99 – this 13 hectare property is in the small village of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne just north of Chablis.  This Cuvée is from the estates oldest vines, around 60 years old and planted by the current winemaker’s grandfather.  It is an excellent, elegant Chablis with a nice richness from the old vines and a good, lean minerality and Mum thinks it would go very nicely with that smoked salmon you’re bringing round.

Vivir Sin Dormir Monastrell Barrica 2016 – £12.99 – this wine arrived back on our shelves this week and we couldn’t resist laying it on thick for Mother’s Day.  You may have translated it already but if not, the name of the wine is ‘live without sleep’.  As any parent will tell you, the key to successfully managing to be a parent whilst also actually trying to be something else apart from being a parent, relies solely on sacrificing bedrest.  So this is the perfect gift for your mum to acknowledge  all those sleepless nights plus it’s delicious.  Velvety dark blackberry fruits, with silky tannins that provide a framework for the medium to full bodied character of the wine – very classy, just like your Mum!

And that’s how we write a blog.

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

That’s all from us, have a great week, see you soon!

Wayne & Alex


We sat in the shop and watched the mercury oscillate between -4°C and -1°C and wondered where had we gone wrong?

March 2nd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s been a week of hardship for many of us.

My mother-in-law flew to Australia last Monday, current temperature in Sydney 22°C – but it is the middle of the night.

Wayne’s Uncle is currently in Queensland – 36°C in the shade yesterday.

A friend of mine, who happens to live sporadically in Dubai when not flying to Mauritius or some other paradise, sent me a distraught message on Tuesday moaning that it was raining.  23°C and 61% humidity – probably a relief.

One of our suppliers has taken a trip to New Zealand to visit, amongst others, Dog Point Winery in Marlborough and Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson before going off bungying in Queenstown.  We know this through Instagram – the photos of picnics and beach barbecues giving us the impression of warmth and sunshine.

Another of our suppliers, with a distinctly Braveheart surname, voyaged to Murrayfield on Saturday and came back smugger than Billy McSmug from Loch ma Smug.

We sat in the shop and watched the mercury oscillate between -4°C and -1°C and wondered where had we gone wrong?

Snow Day

Is it or isn’t it?  Apparently it has nothing to do with snow depth but actually availability of public transport, we’re told.

Anyway, Ricards Lodge called it yesterday on the strength of weather predictions.  My sons’ school is closing at 1pm today (it’s currently raining here, just so you know).  To be honest with you, judging from our visit to the Pig & Whistle last night, I suspect that a number of people had already called it too and have decided to work from home today – sensible.  You don’t have to risk the commute, you don’t have to risk slipping over on unsalted pavements, and most importantly you don’t have to risk being the only one who did make it in and thus spend the day answering other people’s phones and making your own coffee.  Plus, because you obviously started work earlier, you can obviously stop work earlier and start the weekend early with a visit to your local wine shop!

Since I live just around the corner and Wayne lives in nearby Balham, we can never justify a snow day, Shanks’s pony or velocipede being our preferred transportation methods, so will always be open to provide you with vital vinous survival packs.  If you fancy something a bit more fortifying, we always have an array of spirits open for tasting, should you need something character building before scaling Arthur Road – particular hipflask favourites are currently:

The Kings Ginger – £23.99

King Edward VII was a trailblazer, trendsetter and maverick who broke tradition throughout his life.

The King literally lived life in the fast lane. He would endlessly drive his horseless carriage (a Daimler), whatever the weather. So much so, that in 1903 the Royal Physician became concerned about the monarch’s health. So, he called on Berry Bros. and Rudd for a solution, a high strength liqueur that would warm and revivify His Majesty. Crafted from ginger, (for centuries celebrated for its medicinal properties) The King’s Ginger was born.

Rich, golden and delightfully crisp in flavour, it helped King Edward stay colourful and ready for whatever came next.

Bepi Tosolini Amaretto Salizá – £25.99

Nel sestiere di Castello, non lontano da piazza San Marco, è possibile giungere alla SALIZA’ o SALIZADA DEL PIGNATTER, sotto il cui arco è incastonata una pietra rossa a forma di cuore: la leggenda vuole che le coppie che vi si recano assieme si ameranno per sempre”. Questa è la storia veneziana che ricorda il nome dell’amaretto Salizà, un vero distillato di mandorle nato dalla ricetta di Bepi Tosolini, senza coloranti ed aromi artificiali.

As you have no doubt gleaned from above this is traditional amaretto from Venice.  Salizada refers to a red, heart shaped stone found in the arch Salizada del Pignatter.  Then there is a whole load of guff about the significance of this stone and lovers loving each other forever and such-like.  Suffice to say we love it, on its own or with company….

However, should Gin be the only spirit that passes muster nowadays, we are very glad to have welcomed two more Gins from Sacred in Highgate.  Sacred Gin With Exotic Notes Of Cardamom and Sacred Gin With Intensely Fresh Notes Of Juniper (both £38) are both gracing our shelves and open for tasting – no prizes for guessing the key botanicals!

Vital vinous survival pack

With differing views as to what the weekend weather might bring, we have made the decision to open two new listings today that match all seasons – it is spring now after all!

De Wetshof Estate Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2017 – £13.49

Soils rich in limestone and broken mountain rock on De Wetshof’s site-specific vineyards allow this wine to emit optimum varietal expression. An unwooded wine, Bon Vallon has a brisk and clean freshness leading into a wide spectrum of classic flavours including citrus, wild flowers and grilled nuts, with a nuanced minerality on the aftertaste

We tasted this last week for the first time and revelled in its unoaked charm, a nice contrast to Lesca Chardonnay, the oaked wine from the same stable.  A nice balance of fruit and lees character, perfect with your Sunday roast or as an aperitif whilst the coal warm up on the Barbie…

Wine & Roses 2015 Tempranillo – £12.19

Wine and Roses is a project which was set up by 5 friends who wanted to produce contemporary wines with equally contemporary packaging.  Their wines are not classified as Crianzas or Reservas as they did not want to be limited by the DOC regulations for Riojan wines.  They took the name from their mutual appreciation of Axl Rose and his chums so we quite expected  to meet a group of denim clad black t-shirt wearing mavericks but in fact we met with a couple of sharply be-suited characters who clearly know how to keep work and play separate – what goes on tour stays on tour etc etc

Delicious, velvety damson fruits and blackberries, plums and spicy chocolate also pop their heads in to make it really a rather decent drop.  Perfect with your Sunday roast or as an accompaniment to those chops on the Barbie…

And with that we shall leave you.  We’re off to Sunny Surbiton and Bahamian Balham this weekend, how about you?

Ciao Ciao!

Chicken, Fashion Week and Wine

February 23rd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Those of us who have lived in the area for a while are, I’m sure, fully aware of South West London’s fondness for fried chicken.  There are a plethora of different shops where you can get your fix, Morleys, Roosters and Chicken Cottage to name but a few. There has even been a four episode Channel Four documentary on the subject.

You can imagine then the shock that has radiated around the country as The Colonel himself has had to close most of his shops due to a lack of chicken. We saw some stories of a Bargain Bucket changing hands for £100 in Sussex. Whilst we love the entrepreneurial side of the chap selling, and also the purity of the economics, we do question if it is still a bargain!

It seems the problem comes down to The Colonel switching his logistics supplier from a specialist company to one that was just cheap. Don’t Have Lorries, having won the contract, just didn’t know what to do next. Good news though folks, looks like the fowl up is nearly solved now, so if Kenny’s Fried Chicken needs a wine with it this evening we’d suggest a Viognier!

Rumours that Chicken Cottage is to become Chicken Villa are, so far, unconfirmed.

Elsewhere in the news it’s been a busy week for the Queen. Spotted first at London Fashion week sat in the front row (too short to model apparently) with Anna Wintour.  Then midweek she popped up again at the Brit Awards. We always suspected she was a big fan of Rag ‘n’Bone Man but how wrong can you be, she was spotted in the mosh pit of International Band of the Year, Foo Fighters! We suspect there’s a chance of fake news on this, but really love the idea of Her Maj getting her rock on to ‘The Pretender’.

Performance enhancing drugs in sport is something we’ve talked about in the past… curling…really? Words fail us.

The latest ‘wine is good for you’ news, suggests that drinking red wine may be good for your oral health. It’s those polyphenols again we understand, though not much was said about the acids and sugar, so we’d suggest staying with the paste and brush until more work is published!

This weekend sees the return of the Six Nations rugby. Friday evening sees France host Italy, whilst Saturday’s early game sees Ireland host Wales in what could be the game of the weekend and England travel to Murrayfield to face an unchanged Scottish team for the Calcutta Cup.

Also the weekend sees the start of the Spring Classics in cycling, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Saturday.

Wine & Cheese Tastings

All the dates are about half filled now, so do check your diaries if you want to join the fun. All start at 8pm and cost £20 per person. Dates below:


Thursday 19th April

Thursday 17th May

Thursday 21st June

Thursday 19th July


Tasting This Weekend

We’ve mentioned a few times that we’ve been out to a tasting, it’s that time of year in the wine trade. We also know that you all imagine us swanning around in our blazers at some livery hall swirling large glasses of red liquid then turning up at the shop late with black teeth, glazed eyes and a half empty pack of tic-tac’s. Whilst some of this may be true, it is also true that some of the booty from our foraging shows up occasionally too.

With that in mind, the white corner this weekend will feature Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2017 (£20.99). Domaine Naturaliste are a small Margaret River winery where the wine is made in a low-intervention manner by Bruce Dukes. We thought this was cracking with a real layered complexity and fabulous balance of fruit and texture. Deliciously elegant, a great partner to a plate of sushi but, frankly, very tasty on its own too.

In the red corner, we’ll make no apologies for taking a second trip in a fortnight to Tuscany. We’ll be opening Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2014 (£23.99), a stunning wine, elegant with smoky black cherry fruit character and aa great finish. Organic and enormously keen on their sustainability, Salcheto were the first company in the world to have certified the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine (according to ISO 14064 standard, in 2011).

A song for this weekend must be Louis Jordan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens’


Dogs, Skeletons, its downhill from here

February 16th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Has it really been a week since we last spoke?  God grief, the time has just flown past in a flurry of bad weather and divisive rugby results.  We received a certain amount of criticism last weekend for failing to mention the Winter Olympics starting – much as I’d like to say I was saving it for a special feature this week once some events had actually got underway, I would be talking through my hat and that would never do.

So Winter Olympics, why should I watch you?

You start  half way through the night and then finish up around midday, which makes life difficult for us here as, generally speaking, our most successful sport watching is done under the cover of work, and when work doesn’t start until 11am, well, it’s tricky.  And I’m not sure I’ll ever be to thank you enough for sucking me in last Sunday morning to watch the mixed curling, Canada v Switzerland that finished after 1am – the merciless ridicule that I received from wife and children when I told them of my antics will leave scars; for the record Canada won this round robin match and then proceeded to meet Switzerland again in the final and beat them once more but of course, I knew that would be the case, having been following them from early on… which meant I hadn’t anticipated the fact that the Canada’s ladies would be bottom of the table today after three sessions!

The joy the Winter has over the Summer version is to introduce us to sports that we have never tried ourselves.  If you went to school in the UK you will have done a variety of athletics, there is a definite chance you will have been in a kayak, on a bike, kicked a football, swam a length or played bows and arrows – none of the Summer Olympic sports are alien to us, we can sort of imagine doing them.  Fewer of us can imagine the skillset needed for biathlon and ski-jumping or the mind-set needed for the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton – and here-in lies its viewing appeal.  I was gutted when Elise Christie flew into the barriers and failed to get the medal she so deserves but when my son asked what had happened I couldn’t really tell him what had gone wrong, he just had to watch it for himself.

And then we have the commentators.  With the summer version we seem to land up with industry stalwarts who are used to being at the business end of a microphone and who are dab hand at painting a verbal picture whilst giving incisive commentary.  Watching the Men’s Slopestyle Final (highlights this time, it didn’t finish until 2.30am on Monday) such stalwarts were definitely missing – plenty of ‘wow, that was amazing’, ‘I don’t know how he did that’, coupled with ‘he really won’t be happy about that jump’ made me feel more like I was eavesdropping on some keen amateurs armchair punditry in the pub rather than profound professional commentary – but you know what, their enthusiasm was infectious.  When one of the commentators  put his neck on the line and said, after a fall on the first run, that Red Gerard was going to struggle to medal because he was too light to cope with the cross winds you just knew he hadn’t read the Book of Gaffes to Avoid when on Air – Gerard won Gold!

And of course we’re all about the Skeleton today – could you have told me anything about Dom Parsons yesterday?

So, there you have it, thoroughly engrossing when it’s on, sometimes too engrossing when it’s on late at night and we’ve still got just over a week left – get involved!

Spring Festival

As discussed last week, our four legged friends are front and centre today as we celebrate Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog.  Unlike some of the local pubs, we are yet to stock Snuffle Dog Beer (chicken flavour) or other such dog friendly dog drinks so we’ll have to limit our dog based recommendations to the following wines this weekend:

Mimi Méthode Traditionnelle NV – £12.99

Predominantly Pinot Noir with the merest splosh of Pinot Meunier and a delicate dab of Chardonnay, this fizz has been regaining in popularity as the lights seem to be coming up at the Prosecco party and people are looking to get their kicks elsewhere – the label has a young lady with her pet pooch in her arms, hence the dog theme.

Dog Point Chardonnay 2014 – £25.99

The 2014 Chardonnay reveals a pretty perfume of honey-drizzled white peaches, orange blossoms, marzipan and ginger with savory wafts of struck match (sulfides) and baking bread.  Light to medium-bodied, taut and with a wicked backbone of racy acid, it gives a great intensity of citrus and savory flavors and great length.  Drinking window 2016-2022.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, 30th December 2016

I think the canine link is self-evident here – and as our red we have:

Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2015 – £20.49

From the same stable as the mighty Sassacaia, this wine is made from the estates younger vines.  The wine is matured for 12 months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels. This vintage is a particularly fine one for Tuscany.

A round and delicious wine with bright fruit and fine tannins.  Medium body, lovely flavors and a fresh finish.  Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.  91-92 Points

James Suckling, October 20, 2017

Again, it’s the label that has a dog on it, in fact two hunting dogs chasing down a spot of cinghiale for the Sunday roast!

We’ll have the white and the red open for tasting this weekend so do come and join us for a sip or two, they are both truly wonderful examples!

Right, I’m off to catch a nap before midnight – 12 bouts of curling to get through before this time tomorrow, who’s with me?

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. Groucho Marx

Yes, Thursday 15th February is too late…

February 9th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Time to raid your piggy banks; it’s an expensive week coming up.

Snowfall in in Europe has been less than the record breaking January dumps but there is no sign of a thaw it seems , plus a good base in most resorts means that there will be plenty of skiing going on as the majority of lifts and runs are open and avalanche risks are low.  With the prospect of sunshine rather than snow there will be ample opportunity to sunbake whilst having a cheeky drink up the hill – 250 euros for a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge NV in Val d’Isère will have you shifting around for loose change down the banquette…

Half term of course is more expensive – at least when the children are captive behind the heavily locked gates of school they seem less capable of burning through your wallet.  Come half term though and suddenly they need lunch, entertaining and pocket money –the brutes.  Check the pockets of that overcoat you haven’t worn for a few months, there might be a tenner in there….

Valentine’s Day.  A day that should be about the expression of free love and true romance, which aren’t currently tradeable commodities, is apparently going to have us all spending in the region of £650 million, according to Mintel.  If we can get just 0.1% of that business we’ll have filled our coffers sufficiently to cover skiing drinks and long exeat!

On Saturday we have ample opportunity to wager heavily and empty our wallets over and over again in the rugby as Ireland battle Italy at 2.15pm and England introduce Wales to the delights of playing outdoors at 4.45pm; we will already have staked our Valentine’s money on the Tottenham v Arsenal goalless draw and our only hope of any return should be in the Scotland v France match on Sunday but unfortunately the odds are rubbish!  My bet this weekend – a draw in Dublin at 125/1 seemed the only offering actually worth filling a slip out for… just imagine, this time next year, we’ll be millionaires!

Then we have a feast day on Tuesday as we gorge ourselves silly on blinis and caviar and smoked salmon and other such hedonistic delights in preparation for our metaphorical 40 days in the wilderness starting on Ash Wednesday…

However, if your choice of worship is not so much Christian and more traditional Buddhist or Taoist then you will be waiting until Friday for you festivities as we usher in the Year of Dog with all the gusto and Champagne a New Year that arrives on a Friday should receive!

So, pick your pastime and spend accordingly unless you’re like Wayne, then you’ll be celebrating all of the above so it’s definitely time to raid your piggy banks – it’s an expensive week coming up!

That’ll be £650,000,000, please

Whilst you won’t find me in the corner of a crowded bistro whispering sweet nothings into my loved ones ear on Wednesday 14th February, I will of course be having a bottle of bubbles, or a bottle of wine, or a bottle of both at home with my wonderful wife – but what will it be I hear you clamour?

Well, very high up on the wish list is a small bottle of Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin (14.99) and a bottle of Herbert Hall Brut (32.99) to make a very British, lightly pink hued version of a Kir Royale as it were – I might keep a bit of gomme syrup nearby just in case the tartness of the gin and the dryness of the Kentish fizz are a stop too far and it needs a drop of sugar syrup to soften out the edges – I’ll happily experiment.

On the wine front then, I will skirt around the Rosé option, largely because my wife will thump me if I bring it home (not a fan) and partly because I will have just drunk a bottle of fizz and half a bottle of gin… but don’t let me stop you from enjoying a nice bottle of Château de L’Aumerade Cuvée Marie-Christine (13.99) to bring back some summer sunshine!

A refreshing glass of one of either The Accomplice Chardonnay or The Accomplice Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (both 8.99) seems an appropriate toast to my partner in crime before moving onto a delicious bottle of Château de Belleverne St Amour 2016 (12.99) from the heart of Beaujolais, Le Cru des Amoreux as it likes to call itself!

At this point I will need to put a stop to the tippling because I will have to go to work but again, don’t let me stop you….

Tasting this weekend

With all that’s mentioned above I think we’ll open The Accomplice Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and the St Amour – the rhubarb gin is open anyway and you’ll just have to trust us on the Herbert Hall front, it’s fab.

Should none of our Valentine suggestions tease you then do remember that Champagne is always available.

Equally, should any of our sport betting tips fail to appeal, you can always still bet on Scotland, Italy or France winning the grand slam at 1,000-1 apparently!?


February and the 6 Nations

February 2nd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Say hello, wave goodbye.

A warm welcome to February, the year’s shortest month, filled with Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, half term and the Six Nations.

Whilst we greatly appreciate that the shortest month comes directly after the very, very longest month there is an argument that perhaps, post Brexit (!), we should consider reallocating days/month to make January about 14 days long and then add the surfeit of days into July and August.  This would work for everyone – all the cold days in January could be exchanged 1:1 for sunny days in the height of summer; the summer holidays would now be longer; the New Year resolutions would now only have to last for a fortnight and obviously February would be closer to Christmas.

Such a reallocation of days could also serve as a fillip to the economy, with the slow month of January exchanged for months of greater productivity later in the year; there would be more seasonal work available for longer, so we would approach universal employment, once again a financial bonus for the country.  With the extended summer we would now compete head-on with Mediterranean destinations for sunshine breaks and, following the Thomas Cook lead, could charge £20 for a sunbed booking – great for business and £3.33 for the Treasury coffers, every time.  If we can encourage 3 billion visitors to sit on a beach chair for just 3 days each then, by 2021, we could shore up the 30 billion NHS deficit using sunbeds alone; a billion visitors a year – how many kiss-me-quick hats and fish suppers would that involve, it’s a gift that keeps on giving and we haven’t even considered the 0.83 pence the HMRC gets from each plastic bag we have to purchase at the supermarket!

So we’re voting for 14 days in January – who’s with me?  Potential naysayers, likely to be anyone born between 15th and 31st, will get their birthday re-located to the summer, further away from Christmas and in the nice weather, something they’ve always yearned for!

I have the feeling that some of us, certainly where resolutions are involved, are already working on a fortnight long first month.  Supposedly, 3.1 million of us gave up booze on January 1st, which is 6 times more of us than have Hive Connected Heating (according to the British Gas adverts) which perhaps is a sign that we are substantially more likely to give up drinking than get suckered into remote controlled central heating, but I digress…

3.1 million took the pledge last month, a statistic gleaned from YouGov (a fount of many fun statistics) which is more than 5% of the UK adult population.  There are no statistics available for how many were still dry on Wednesday, and I suspect there never will be, but we can report, unofficially, a noticeable uplift in sales from 20th January onwards, and a definite acceleration the first few days of this week!  Congratulations to all of you that did the full month and a warm welcome back, what can we offer you?

Wine & Cheese Tastings

Well aware of your penchant for combining fermented grapes with curdled milk we published dates for our upcoming tastings over the next few months – response has been great, so here’s an update:

Thursday 8th February (next week!) at 8pm – only 4 spaces left

Thursday 15th March at 8pm – sorry, sold out!

Thursday 19th April at 8pm – good availability

Thursday 17th May at 8pm – good availability

Thursday 21st June at 8pm – good availability

Thursday 19th July at 8pm – good availability

So, check your diaries, we have someone booked for every evening now so we expect them all to sell out… As usual, to book, pop in or else call us on 020 8944 5224.

£20 per person.

Tasting this Weekend

We were out tasting this week and it seems that the Spanish islands are going to be the next big thing this year, the heat over wines from Etna cooling a little – and having listed the wines from the Mallorcan winery, Las Bodegas Maciá Batle, for many years now, we were quite excited to try some other wines.

Let’s just say, we are very pleased with our current listings and found the alternative wines we tasted truly delicious but very ambitiously priced – think Burgundy but wearing a sombrero…

So, we thought we’d open Maciá Batle Blanc de Blancs 2016 – £18.49 and show you why we like it – a blend of Prensal Blanc and Chardonnay; the Prensal Blanc is a local variety with a lightly herbal fruited character set off by the appley bite of the Chardonnay – delicious.

We also rediscovered the fact that Bordeaux from 2010 is also delicious.  We’ll open the Château des Demoiselles Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux – £15.99, just to remind you too!

Late News

Alex is always late, no doubt about it.  He hasn’t yet offered to resign though, but if he did I think I would let him stay, being half the business and all that.

Anyway, to reference YouGov for one last time, their question was thus:

The International Development Minister Lord Bates resigned and walked out of the House of Lords after being late to answer a ministerial question. (His resignation was not accepted). How often are you late?

Astonishingly, 47% of us said rarely and 19% never – that’s 2/3 of the population that reckons they’re timekeeping is almost perfect.  Only 7% confessed to being usually or often late, the same percentage as those who ‘didn’t know’!

Think of your friends, read those stats and never believe another poll!

Wales v Scotland; France v Ireland; Italy v England – I genuinely have no clue how the rugby will shape up this weekend but I feel it could be amazing!

Wave goodbye, Alex…

Haggis, Cheese & Wine, Dolly the Sheep – it’s that Friday feeling!

January 26th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We have to confess we’re a little puzzled. We thought we’d read that the President wasn’t coming to London. Suddenly, without warning an entire club arrives, and in one evening manages to unleash front page Fire and Fury from the FT no less.

As we read the story, we found ourselves wondering if all these important people shouldn’t be in Davos rather than The Dorchester, and then it dawned on us that it could be some weird publicity stunt for the new Aardman Animations film “Early Man”. Settled on this explanation, we wondered about some Wensleydale for lunch…

Elsewhere, we learn that Chinese scientists have successfully cloned macaque monkeys using the same technology that produced Dolly the sheep. Fifteen of the UKIP senior team have resigned over differences with their leader (the fourth in 12 months!) – let’s hope there are no scientists working on Dolly designs in the Farage garage!

Otherwise, whilst the world is still turning, a distillery in South Carolina has released a vodka made from cloud vapour. Now, I’ll confess to be being somewhat less than on message when it comes to modern terms, but I’m fairly sure I spent most of my day off on Wednesday in ‘cloud vapour’. Indeed, I might go as far as suggesting that I was taught at school that the water we drink actually comes from cloud vapour. Maybe I wasn’t listening… probably had my head in the clouds!

Cheese and Wine Tastings

Cheese and wine have been rumoured to be nearly as tasty a combination as wine and cheese and over the years you have been in to help us along with our research into which is best. We chat to our chums at Beillevaire who suggest some cheeses, from which we choose four. Then we choose some wines to go with them, taste them with you and discuss the success of the choice.

One of the side effects of our research has been to discover just how many cheeses there are, hundreds of the blighters. You seem undaunted by the maths though, and have demanded more dates for cheese and wine tasting evenings.

So, if four cheeses tasted with half a dozen or so wines over a couple of hours sounds like fun, these are the dates to check in your diary!

Thursday 8th February at 8pm

Thursday 15th March at 8pm

Thursday 19th April at 8pm

Thursday 17th May at 8pm

Thursday 21st June at 8pm

Thursday 19th July at 8pm

As usual, book tickets by popping in or else call us on 020 8944 5224. Prices held at £20 per person.

Tasting this Weekend

There’s been talk of haggis this week, something to do with Burns Night. Now, as someone that likes to eat haggis, I would argue that much like puppies and Christmas, a haggis is not just for Burns Night. We thought we’d suggest a couple of reds that might make rather tasty accompaniments to the beastie, so we’ll kick off in the red corner with a brace: Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 (£12.99), whose cherry fruit will slide along just nicely with the peppery savouriness, whilst the slightly darker brambly fruit of Domaine Coyeux Beaumes de Venise 2013 (£15.99), will bring its own slightly savoury note to the party.

The white corner will have Lazos Terra Chardonnay 2016 (£13.99), not because it goes with haggis but because it’ll be a wow with that smoked salmon starter!

We appreciate that every tradition has its traditionalists so, if it must be whisky, then why not Finlaggan (£32.99) for the Islay team, or Strathmill 2002 (£50) for the Speyside team.

Neither of us were invited to Davos this year, so we’ll be here to answer questions, shoot the breeze or take your cheese and wine bookings.

Lastly, if you have a spare couple of hours, Icarus is a cracking documentary worthy of a stream!


Wayne & Alex

PS:  Our 6 for 5 offer ends at close of play Wednesday 31st January and we will be out for most of Tuesday daytime for tastings – so, as I write, there are approximately 40 hours left to shop – you have been warned!

Dry…Gin, Vermouth and Roasted Nuts

January 19th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Our Dry January Menu: Dry White Wine, Dry Gin, Dry Vermouth… Dry Roasted Nuts?

Pat, one of our customers, saw this brilliant piece of graffiti on the ‘wall of truth’ in Daly’s Wine Bar on The Strand, and correctly surmised that it might strike a chord..

The beginning of 2017 was an arid wasteland for the alcohol purveyors amongst us; everybody seemed to get so caught up in the vortex of alcohol abstention that was #dryjanuary, that we spent most of the month reading the paper.  As a further consequence of temperance, many bold moves were made to discover new and interesting flavours, alcohol free cocktails and exotically sludgy smoothies – 2017 was to be the year that boozing died and, with it, so too perhaps fun.

But February rolled in on a wave of Six Nations Rugby, Valentine’s Day and half term and suddenly a glass of proper fizz on Friday garnered more appeal than San Pellegrino, who skulked back once more to the bottom shelf.  By the end of the summer we had sold pallets of rose and prosecco and sludgy smoothies were much forgotten, the wine status quo had been achieved.  Christmas arrived in all its splendour and with it the New Year and then another month of abstinence…

….Or so we thought.  It would appear that many people had such a miserable time last January that the idea of 31 days off the grog, ever again, seems cruel and unfair and certainly contrary to all the rules and conventions that keep society social.  Some extreme abstainers, perhaps giddied by how much fun avocado and kale smoothies were last year, have decided to adopt Veganuary as their test this year – but don’t get me started on that!

Anyway, whether you have given up or not, you should certainly take advantage of our January 6 for 5 offer.

If you’re still drinking then the prospect of 16.66% off your six pack is not to be sniffed at whilst, if you are on the wagon but still reading this, I am guessing you might be back in the throng sometime in early February, the 1st perhaps, and you’ll be wanting something nice to drink.  Fill your rack up now and avoid the disastrous double whammy of missing out on wine in January whilst also missing out on the big discount!


Now, one man who is definitely not a vegan is Nick Radclyffe from Foxdenton, our Sloe and Rhubarb Gin guru.  Now Nick seems to spend his time equally between creating delicious alcoholic tinctures, selling such tinctures and shooting things.  Hence not a vegan.  Anyway, Nick popped by on Tuesday to replenish our Rhubarb Gin stocks and, being both a gentleman and a salesman, he also brought us some of his other tipples with him.  He left us the bottles, with a view that we could try them out with you lot and see if any gained any traction!  The flavours we have to try are:

Damson, Golden Apricot, Raspberry, and Winslow Plum.  He also left some Christmas Liqueur and his 48% Gin, both of which pack a punch!

Anyway, they’re all here for tasting, we’ll set up a sheet for scoring anonymously so we can get an idea of which one we should stick on the shelf.


If you don’t fancy fruit based spirits this weekend then we will have a couple of rather nice wines open.  Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis 2016 – £20.99 will be delighting us in the white suit whilst Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2016 – £16.99 will be the rogue in red – we’ve got plenty of stock of both wines so plenty of opportunity to get a six box!

And with that I’m gone!