Keep your chin up, things could be a lot worse, raise a glass!

September 11th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to the watershed weekend to end all watershed weekends!

Wizzard

With a swoosh of his magic wand, Boris answered all our questions this week and made clear the way our lives must be lived for most likely the next six months – which should nicely bring us to the first lockdown anniversary. 

From a business point of view, we now know we won’t be hosting any tastings for a good while hence, that the Christmas party season is already over, and that it’s now all about the dinner party.  However, these dinner parties are going to have to be small affairs, particularly if you’re daft enough to have children who immediately take up part of your quota of 6, even if they are asleep upstairs.  I can already hear the turkey farmers getting in a flap, the Thanksgiving/Christmas season being their one shot at glory but both these occasions rely on numerous mouths to feed – a turkey for four people is a formidable challenge well beyond most of our interest levels.  Equally, for us, the upcoming months are the time that we sell larger volumes of larger format wines: magnums move steadily every week and we can quite happily have a jeroboam of something interesting that will pique someone’s interest but this is less likely to happen now – a jeroboam is four bottles, a bottle a head, a commitment….

However, there might be a silver lining; he might lift the rule of six in time for Christmas and New Year which would be perfect time for us all to hold street parties celebrating his well-crafted Brexit on January 1st.  Or perhaps he needn’t bother.

The Police

On a more serious note, there is the worrying final sentence in the Gov.uk outline of changes that was published on Wednesday:

The government will restrict the opening hours of premises, initially in local lockdown areas, with the option of national action in the future.

Couple this with the use of Covid Marshalls and I really do feel that the whole nation is sliding into a realm a trifle less democratic than we all signed up for.

Prince

Living in the present, we can still see our friends this weekend and by all accounts many of you are planning to go the full 1999. It will be dry and mild tomorrow and then Sunday should be a scorcher – couple this with the fact that this is the last weekend of the American Express Shop Small offer and really, what are we all waiting for.  I’ve got Rosé  ready to roll, I’ve got beer, I’ve got Champagne, I’ve even got ice – let’s do it!

Neil Young

So what’s going on in the world outside Covid?  Well, in wine, not a great deal.  It’s Harvest time, or approaching it at least, for much of Europe, so we’re not hearing much from there.  In spite of the restriction on us running private tastings, we are still allowed to go to trade tastings because they come under the umbrella of work so on Monday 21st September we will be scuttling into town to visit two different venues.  It will be great to be out as much to stretch our legs as to try some new things and finally be able to answer the question ‘got any new wines in?’ with a yes rather than a rather flat no.  Can’t wait.

Blur

Whilst Wayne has been eating Mersea oysters and drinking too much stout, I’ve re-listed a Belgian beer that we haven’t had for over a year.  Thanks to his historic love of all things from Belgium, about 10 years ago he introduced me to the Lambic beer, Gueuze.  Many of you won’t know what I’m talking about, so here’s a quick York note.  Gueuze is a blend of younger (not fully fermented) and older (2 and 3 year old) Lambic beers, which is then bottled for a second fermentation.  Lambic beers differ from other beers because they are fermented by exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria in the brewery rather than cultivated brewer’s yeast.  Swerving away from deeper science, what do they taste like?  Dry, cider-like, vinous, with a tangy, tart aftertaste – bloomin’ delicious if you ask me!

I’ve bought some mini bottles, so if you fancy trying something that might re-calibrate your beer drinking, this could be for you.

Lindemans Gueuze 25cl – £2.00

The Doors

That’s it from us for this week.  Enjoy the sunshine, keep your chin up, things could be a lot worse, raise a glass!

The End.

We’re living out our dreams here!

September 4th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

167 days.  Over 45% of the year.  More than 5 months and we really hadn’t missed it.  As we went to bed on Wednesday night we knew life was about to change, yet again.  For so long we hadn’t had to worry about what went on before 7am, in truth on many an occasion it remained a mystery what happened before 8 but now was crunch time.  School was going back in and the teenager with the sharp haircut and new schoolbag had set his alarm for 6am….

When we awoke on Thursday we were all still unaware of what happens before 7am because the ‘bloomin’ alarm hadn’t gone off’ (amazing how a digital clock can make such a unilateral decision in the middle of the night but then, as mentioned, what happens before 7am stays before 7am) and with that we were thrust back into the routine.  A rush to JJ’s for milk that could so easily have been bought the day before, the new game of hunt the facemask and the hurried sprint to Earlsfield all welcoming one 16 year old and his parents back with loving arms.  Meanwhile, in another bedroom another teenager slept on none the wiser because she wasn’t going back to school until tomorrow, ha!

So, we’re back and it feels like almost immediately there is more to write about.  The sheer thrill of the start of a new school year has never before had so much potency and dare I say it, optimism that we can see a shadow of our old lives returning, giving hope that they could take on corporeal characteristics at some point.  Many people mock and deride routine, citing freedom of spirit and living for the day as realistic mantras and there is certainly something to be said for this, however after the last 5 months of discombobulation and aimlessness it’s comforting to get some old habits back.

And we’re working on our old routines.  As discussed last week, we have relaunched our monthly case club that got back-burnered in April.  We’ve also started to have people asking if/when/how we will start doing tastings again.  This is a trifle more tricky but is definitely something we have been thinking about and I think we’re going to take advice on it; on Monday 21st September we are going to our first supplier tasting for a long time, a tasting held by the buying group that we are a part of and whose members are all independent wine merchants like ourselves.  We will see how the tasting runs, we will brain-pick our peers and, hopefully, we will come back suitably enlivened (it is a tasting after all) and full of ideas on how we can proceed here.  Give us a few weeks and we’d like to think we’ll have a plan!

We read, with interest of course, the daily discourse on Covid-19.  With the proposal that a variety of gastrointestinal upsets in children could be signs of the virus we immediately had questions.  Our first caller asked: As children are the same species as adults, is there not a possibility that similar upsets in adults could have similar significance?  At the same time, could it not also just be something we ate?  The next question, from our reader in Essex, goes thus: the list of potential signs of Covid is growing – as the list grows the likelihood is that more of the population will display or have displayed at least one of the symptoms in the last 8 months – does this mean more of us have, potentially, already carried the virus?  Or, again, was it just something we ate?

Perhaps many more of us have had, and subsequently shaken off, this thing than any records may show – which could be a positive as we move away from summer?

Meanwhile, the USA has hopes of releasing a vaccine on its population two days before the Presidential election – what could possibly go wrong?  More locally, Wales and Scotland have gone out on their own and made travellers returning from Portugal quarantine for 14 days.  In  certifiable absence of joined up thinking, England isn’t making holidaymakers from Portugal hide at home at all… so you could fly back into Bristol and if you live in Bristol you could go back to work in Cardiff on Monday morning but if you fly into Bristol and live in Cardiff you have to quarantine… mind boggling!

In the drinks world we return once more to our occasional foray into drinks we’re not sure we need/celebrity bandwagon jumping.  Everybody’s favourite Just Eat ambassador, Snoop Dogg has launched Indoggo, a strawberry gin that ‘goes lighter on the juniper and dials up the strawberry and citrus flavours with its sweet and fruity finish’ – so a gin that really doesn’t taste of gin… mind you at $30 a bottle, you will actually be far closer than some in getting what you paid for. 

Meanwhile, over in Italy the Delevingne sisters (Cara, Chloe & Poppy) have been busy watching other people picking grapes from 40 year old Glera vines to provide the market with not one but two new Prosecco’s.  Hooray for them.

And that, I believe, is that.  I’m off to watch the Tour de France without any of Wayne’s commentary whilst Wayne is off to drink white port and eat sardines – we’re living out our dreams here!

Saúde!

Raise a glass to Boris if you see him sprint past…

August 28th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Now, we’re not necessarily Boris’s number one fans but we did feel for him when the media snark yesterday turned to his health.  We would all hope, having been hospitalised with a life threatening illness and subsequently being told some quite scary lifestyle home truths, that the move to appoint a personal trainer to help you get into shape would remain, you know, personal.  It’s not news; in amongst all the things he’s ‘achieved’ in the last 6 months or so, this should be the lowest on the trolling list – however that’s not how news works these days…

From the world of heavy weight prize fighting, we hear that the current belt holder, 74 year old Donny T, has been trash-talking his next opponent, 77 year old Joey B, suggesting that he’s been taking performance enhancing drugs and that they should both take a drug test!  History shows that he did the same with Hillary C in 2016, which she ignored, but nonetheless it looks like he’s going to use the same playbook for this fight, which might be an interesting sign of what is to come.

But what performance enhancing drugs are septuagenarian millionaires interested in, we wonder?  Taking our minds out of the gutter, we discover that Donny confesses to a ‘one aspirin per day’ habit whilst Joe has yet to comment.  Considering both their ages and, dare I say it, the well documented high level of legal prescription drug use in the USA, I certainly doubt that one aspirin is the end of the story but I’m not sure it ends in a meth lab either.

As a side note, Donald Trump is already the oldest President of the USA to take office and Ronald Reagan was 77 years old when he left the Oval office whilst Boris Johnson is  55 years and a bit.

Stung by all the criticism we received last week for failing to talk about wine in a weekly missive that misleadingly calls itself ‘The Weekly Wine’, the word from on high was that we need to concentrate a bit more on vinous matters rather than, say, the Tour de France.

Well, where to start.  I imagine the deluges we have had over the last few days will perhaps dilute some of the fruit for this year’s vintage in the UK unless we get some decent sunshine again over the next few weeks.  Equally, depending on how the canopy management has been, and I imagine most vineyards might have kept a bit of leaf on to protect the grapes in the recent hot weeks, then there is a risk, again rain resultant, that the leaves might have provided insufficient protection to the ripening fruit beneath and we could see lots of lovely grapes lying in the mud, beyond hope of vinification.

Still sure you want us to talk about wine?

With the much anticipated return of the schools next week and with that a small sense of routine returning to perhaps a handful of local households we thought we too would return to a bit of normality with the re-launch of our monthly case club.  To those of you as yet unaware of this, for the past 8 years or so we have been putting together two cases a month, one containing 6 bottles for £60 and the other with 6 bottles for £100.  These cases attract a better discount than what would usually be offered in the shop plus they contain wines that we enjoy, the occasional bought in bin-end, often some esoteric stuff that we think people should be trying and of course some old favourites.  We call it, rather cleverly we thought all those years back, The Park Vintners Wine Club.

I’ve attached the tasting notes for the September case (or at the very least, I intend to attach them), have a look and see what you think.  In a nutshell:

  • The club is completely free of obligation – you let us know that you are interested in it and give us your email address. 
  • Then at the start of each month we email you with the month’s selections, at which point you say ‘yes, please’ or ‘no, thank you’.
  • If you say ‘yes, please’ we the arrange a suitable delivery time and payment
  • If you say ‘no, thanks’ we then leave you in peace until the following month
  • And so it goes on

We have a number of customers who have been taking this on a monthly basis from day one, some who dip in on a quarterly basis and others who use it purely as a simple Christmas gift solver – and buy 6 cases!  There are no rules, no red tape, just red wine and of course white!

So, if any of this holds any appeal, even if you only end up trying it once, just drop us a line and we can go from there.

Otherwise, there really is no other wine news to report on.  Nothing.  Big companies are trying not to go bust;  wine producers in red zones in France (Bordeaux, chunks of Languedoc & Roussillon, the lower end of the Rhone for example) are scratching their heads a bit with harvest time approaching, wondering whether their pickers will be allowed to turn up and hoping that all the possible lockdown rules won’t be implemented; Rosé wine sales still increase exponentially, although we only sold two bottles yesterday but I imagine a bank holiday weekend will make up for that blip.

And that’s it, really.  It really is a bank holiday weekend, when we wake up on Tuesday it will be September and the end of summer so, carpe diem, go and eat street food at Street Eats in Wimbledon Park, and then on Monday eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a local hostelry involved in EOTHO.

Oh, and raise a glass to Boris if you see him sprint past…

But It Doesn’t Look Good Does It?

August 21st, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’ve had this page open for several hours now and despite almost continually giving it the thousand yard stare, the paper has stayed resolutely blank the entire time. I have had some lovely customers to serve, we’ve shot the breeze about how nice it turned out today and the natural boost to rosé sales, but nobody has given me that snappy opener for this week’s email.

We’ll crack on though, shall we?

In the USA, it would appear that former Trump consigliere, Steve Bannon, has been indicted for defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the “We Build The Wall” campaign, under the false pretence that all the money would be used for construction (I wonder if he knows anyone in construction?).  It seems that at least a million dollars went straight into Mr Bannon’s pocket for personal expenses. What we particularly liked was that he was taken into custody by agents of the US Postal Service.

Whilst we’re on this subject, it would appear that a company with longstanding links to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings has been working behind the scenes with Ofqual, the agency overseeing the exam debacle. Now, we’re clearly not suggesting there is anything underhand, shady or dishonest going on, but it doesn’t look good does it? Incidentally, the company is called Public First, which rather tickled the funny bone too!

In other unrelated news, former Chancellor Sajid Javid has got a job at JP Morgan. How that works I don’t understand, I thought us taxpayers were employing him as MP for Bromsgrove. We’re absolutely sure he’ll have his Chinese walls to guard against revealing internal government policy and privileged information. But it doesn’t look good does it?

In possibly rather niche music news, Cabaret Voltaire are releasing their first studio album in 26 years. Shadow of Fear comes out on November 20th and if you’re quick you may be able to order a Limited Edition Double on purple vinyl!

We don’t talk much of County Cricket here, but I’d just like to mention that Essex have a 100% record in the Bob Willis Trophy having won three from three. On the International front, we’re batting first in the third test.

In other sports news, transfers have been happening all over the shop, lots of big numbers thrown around as usual. The one we both found a bit puzzling is Joe Hart ending up at Tottenham, how’s he going to get a game whilst Lloris is there? We shall have to watch and see I guess, but it’s definitely a puzzlement!

Team Ineos have left out Froome and Thomas from the Tour de France squad. Froome is no surprise given his fitness levels after last year’s awful accident, frankly I find it incredible he’s come this far. Geraint is aiming for the Giro which gives him a bit more time to get his fitness up, but I was slightly surprised on that one. Dave Brailsford is proving once again there’s no room for sentiment and that he’s paid the big bucks to get wins not mates! Personally, I’m not sure the race is going to make it all the way to Paris, but that should make the first week even more exciting. It all kicks off in Nice on Saturday 29th August.

I think that’ll be us for this week, have a great weekend everyone and drop by if you’re about, or email us an order if you’d like us to come to you – especially if you’re under the big Q!

Wine, Dinosaurs and White Port

August 14th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As A-level students received their results yesterday we found ourselves pondering, and not for the first time, on what an odd year 2020 has turned out to be. Gavin Williamson’s comments that “Increasing the A-level grades will mean a whole generation could end up promoted beyond their abilities” had us stitching our sides back up and calling Alanis Morissette for a comment. It would appear she’s off on holiday somewhere like many of you.

We might have tried another tack… “Minister, how does a student with mock results of A, A, and A, with assessments from the school of A*, A, and A* end up with grades of B, B and C?” All of a sudden you have to quarantine if you’ve travelled through France and the A-levels are off the front page. Cynical, sickening or the modern way – you choose.

Alex has been on holiday this week, out and about strolling moors with the family, possibly a game of swing ball or two, before counting real sheep in time for bed. Meanwhile I’ve been having an almost Greek sojourn here in Wimbledon Park. We’ve certainly had the weather; I’ve had Greek salad for lunch, listened to the rumble of thunder for an hour or so yesterday whilst the streets of Twickenham and Hammersmith got positively jet-washed by Mother Nature. The way it’s going I might even have to find some Ouzo to go with my fish & chips tonight!

In the Isle of Wight they do appear to have discovered a new dinosaur. Bones were found near Shanklin that are the vertebrae of an as yet undiscovered genus of dinosaur. The palaeontologists from Southampton University were understandably excited: “You don’t usually find dinosaurs in the deposits at Shanklin, you’re much more likely to find fossil oysters or driftwood, so this is a rare find indeed. It is likely the Vectaerovenator lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby.” Seems to me that the Isle of Wight really is the original Jurassic Park!

In US news we learn that Trumpolina ducked the difficult question: “Mr President, after three and a half years, do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done to the American people?” Aside from that, he’s just not happy with his wash. It appears he will compel the water companies to act because he’s not getting enough water pressure in his shower, and he needs his hair to be ‘perfect’. There is obviously nothing else of note happening in the US whatsoever, we did warn you about news in August!

But at least we do have some sport to talk about. Not only did England surprise us all in the first test with a successful run chase, but when rain stopped play yesterday Pakistan were 126-5, even with the obligatory dropped catches from England. Looks like rain may play a big part in it though, with the storms looking set to continue.

Talking of storms, the Critérium du Dauphiné was hit by a hailstorm yesterday with golf ball sized ice lumps raining down on the peloton right at the finish. The riders were desperately trying to stay upright, some walked, and one even took cover under a tent just 500m from the finish. Primo Roglic won the stage though, and looks to be in really decent form.  Typically this race is where everyone tests out their legs before the Tour de France, and this year is no different, just later. UK Cycling Expert on twitter suggests the race is named because we get to see who is climbing like a sack of potatoes!

In our occasional series of summer holiday drinking at home we thought this week we’d mention Kopke White Port (£15.99). It’s a golden colour in the glass with notes of apricot, honey and spices. The palate starts off with a sweet attack but moves onto a citrus laden dry finish. We’d suggest serving it as a long drink over ice with either tonic or ginger beer as a real summer refresher.

Otherwise if you’d like a delivery drop us a line as usual, or do swing by to see us in the shop!

Cheers!

Only in August

August 7th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘“Well, right here, the United States is lowest in numerous categories.  We’re lower than the world.  Lower than Europe.’  – oh Donald, that’s true in oh so many ways!  It was only Monday but we already had the quote of the week in the bag – it was as if our friend in the White House didn’t quite have a full grasp of the figures in front of him.  However one would always hope that the even simplest of souls could work out that any US total would always be less than the overall world total.

If none of the paragraph above makes any sense to you, cut and paste the italicised quote into your favourite search engine, sit back and enjoy!

Anyway, enough about the activities across the pond, what’s news over here?  Having spent last week barbecuing fish and dipping tentative toes into the English Channel whilst pretending some days that I could quite easily be in Spain it was back to reality on Monday.  Spending any time away from London for the first time this year was a joy and indeed it was very easy to imagine that nothing was wrong in the world when the days consisted of walking the dog, surfing (for some), eating local treats and perhaps the odd glass of wine.  A not-so-quick pit-stop at Fleet services on the way back up quickly burst any bucolic bubble and so I was well prepared for London when it arrived.

It is, however, now August and, as we all know, even in a good year it becomes silly season in the news media as real news dries up and people slope of on hols.  So, in a year that has been so dominated by just one news story, I imagine the hacks who weren’t quite quick enough to get their summer holidays in the diary have been sitting at their desks with their hair in clumps – which leads us to an occasional feature called, ‘Only in August: headlines that shouldn’t be…’

(In fairness, they are booze related and all from The Drinks Business pages but that doesn’t make them any less ‘true’!)

Ice cream containing spirits now legal in New York state

Well thank goodness for that.  The good people of New York needed some good news after the torrid months they have had and frankly what could be better than knowing your rum ‘n’ raisin might actually have real, cheap, cooking rum in it, up to a max of 5% – I know, if only we could buy it here…

Keeping with the spirit of additives in, er, spirits:

Spirit flavoured with silkworm poo released in Japan

Eager not to be outdone by the Americans it would seem, this is from The Mitosaya Botanical Distillery.  The silkworm droppings have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine since ancient times and are believed to improve blood flow and relief pain in joints and the abdomen.  Whether this is still true when distilled to 42% we can’t say but we do have our opinion…

Fortnum & Mason has struck a deal with Tyneside’s only urban winery, Laneberg, to produce its first own-label English still white wine.

I really want to be positive about this but I’m still not sure that this is what we’ve been waiting for.  The grapes for the wine come from Poulton Hill Estate in the Cotswolds and are then transported 270 miles to Gateshead to be vinified, which immediately feels like an unnecessary journey to me but anyway.  It’s not a gimmick, the wine was blind tasted and chosen without prejudice but I still can’t quite get my head around the purpose of urban wineries.  I am, of course, a dinosaur still immersed in the dying realm of high street retail, what do I know …

And finally, the one that made me feel warm inside for some reason:

Japanese train station to release first wine

Platforms 3 & 4 at Shiojiri train station have been home to vine laden pergolas since the late 1980’s, planted as a welcome to visitors, for this is a gateway to Japan’s wine country.  They’d never made wine from the grapes before but decided to make 100 bottles to celebrate 60th anniversary of Shiojiri’s elevation to city status.  As I said, it’s just a nice story that leaves a warm feeling….

Outside of wine and west country holidays we welcome Fulham back up to the Premiership, Arsenal win the FA cup to go into the Europa League Group stages, relegating Tottenham to the Europa League qualifiers (HA!), Chris Froome looks like he’s moving closer to retirement whether he likes it or not and the cricket is collapsing. 

Potentially the biggest disappointment of the week is the fact that Brazilian winger, Everton is likely to choose Benfica as his new home, rather than the blue surroundings of Goodison Park.

And finally, a warning to Wayne, for when he goes a-travelling to Belgium with his wife.

Man thrown out of Belgian IKEA for secretly shopping with wife

IKEA currently only allows one customer per household, in line with the current Belgian government rules – this gentleman however flouted them and will now become the butt of many jokes around Ghent and beyond.  The moral of this story, never get caught in IKEA, full stop!

That’s all from us for now, it’s hotting up, rosé is chilling down and we’re ready to help you enjoy the sunshine – we’re here until 7pm today and until 6pm tomorrow – come and say hello!

Cheers!

Stonehenge Mystery Sorted!

July 31st, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As bowling alleys stay shut and blackjack is off the table, it seems to me that Stonehenge has got it all going on again lately. No sooner had we joked about the best photos of it being from the traffic jam on the A303, than we received one! Fast forward a few days and the entire archaeological community is agog with the discovery, finally, that the standy uppy stones (Sarsens, but not as in vinegar!) come from just up the road in West Woods about 15 miles away. Now call me old fashioned but I suspect that definitely rules out any chance of a by-pass!

Trumpolina seems to have noticed that he isn’t doing as well as he’d like in the upcoming Presidential elections. He has suggested that the election is delayed because of the enormous risk of voter fraud in postal ballots that will be held in some states. I believe the words used were in fact: “most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history”. There is no evidence to back this up over the many elections held thus far in the USA. It made us wonder if he has a new plan but more than anything it made us think of the term brass necked!

Big news of the week though is actually relevant to all of us in this Weekly Wine bubble. As you know, we’ve been using the Volvo’s impressive turning circle to good effect the last few months. Delivering wine and chatting on distanced doorsteps we have found that many of you have been concerned that you’ve been drinking rather more than usual. We tried to offer some comfort by suggesting that it was the one stop recycling that was the issue.

Well the data is in folks, and frankly, it looks like you’ve not been pulling your weight! We’ve consumed, as a nation, 1.3 billion litres of alcohol, DOWN from 2 billion litres for the same period last year. I’ll pass you over to Gemma Cooper senior client business partner at Nielson for comment: “While there is a perception that lockdown has been a boozy one and that we’re consuming more alcohol than normal, this is far from the case. Without being able to go out or socialise with others during the peak of the pandemic, and no access to dine-in pubs or restaurants, we have seen a natural decline in alcohol consumption even as at-home drinking increased.”  So there, you’ve all been good really!

On the sports front the Saudi-led consortium has declined to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley. Surely, I can’t be the only one who thought of the News of the World’s Fake Sheik during the entire business? Fresh from defeating the West Indies in the test series, England also beat Ireland by 6 wickets in the One Day International. In proper sports news, bike racing has started again, with Remco Evenepoel in the lead at the Vuelta Burgos. The British Grand Prix is this weekend too.

Now we’ll continue our virtual holiday by wine, with this week’s Spaniard now in quarantine we find ourselves alighting in Crete. It is a fabulous place to holiday, with mountains, beaches, ancient ruins, great food and some fabulous wines.

Domaine Lyrarakis Voila Assyrtiko 2019, Crete, Greece – £14.99

Located in the mountainous commune of Alagni, Domaine Lyrarakis stays true to local winemaking traditions.  The domaine focuses on indigenous varieties, taking them from obscurity and driving them in a more modern direction, while still retaining a clear sense of place.  Its style focuses on pure varietal character, precision and supple texture.  The Assyrtiko is an exemplary wine, grown at 580 metres’ altitude in the Voila vineyard.  There is a definite floral character, refreshing minerality and chalky texture to this delicious wine that marries well with all forms of seafood, as you might expect from a producer surrounded by sea!

Enjoy the sunshine!

Swimmers, Mask and a Corkscrew

July 24th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I found the dictionary was left open after last week’s email. Someone had clearly been leafing through though, as it was open at Tin Pot Dictator, “An autocratic ruler with little political credibility and delusions of grandeur”, since you ask.

That got us thinking, and chatting in fact, about the parallels between decades in different countries and poor leadership. Before you could say ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ the army had been called in!  If you’d like to play this game at home, read some news reports of Tiananmen Square from 1989 and compare them to reports from Portland Oregon this week!

In domestic politics we finally had the long delayed report into Russian election meddling. It seems it found no evidence of meddling, mostly because it didn’t look for any. I can’t be the only person who imagined a Police Squad/Naked Gun style script to this? A team of MI5 agents with magnifying glasses walking through several offices staffed with Rosa Klebb look-a-likes and a sign that says “Nothing to see here!” “Здесь нечего смотреть”.

Fed up with Nicola Sturgeon making him look foolish from afar, Boris this week visited Scotland so he could experience it at closer hand. He’s visited Orkney to announce some funding for the islands, but we all know he was really there to stock up on hand dived scallops, Bere Bannocks, and a couple of North Ronaldsay sheep to be delivered to Chequers for the barbecue. Perhaps even a case of each of the local whiskies for the bar at Downing Street.

Whilst he was busy with his shopping, Nicola Sturgeon suggested that the prime minister’s visit to Scotland “highlighted the argument for Scottish independence”. I suspect a chicken crossing the road would have the same significance if you’re in charge of the SNP!

So, normally this time of the year we’d be talking about the big getaway, making jokes about how the best place to photograph Stonehenge is from the traffic jam on the A303. This year we’re not sure, are you all going away? We don’t know whether to have the Southwold shuffle chat, the wrong way up jam and cream tea chat, or a pint at The Ship at Mousehole anecdote?  Perhaps a staycation has us all on the common outside the Hand in Hand playing crab football, or booking a shed at the Pig & Whistle?

Perhaps we’ll have a virtual holiday by wine. This week we’ll start in Provence where the sun shines, the cycling is fabulous and the wine cold and pale pink!

Chateau de l’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie Christine’ (£14.99) Cru Classé, Côtes de Provence has been owned by the Fabre family since 1932. Based in Perrefeu-du-Var, they were one of the first estates to bottle their own wine and champion the regions wines. They overhauled the chateau and were awarded the Cru Classé in 1955 and are to this day one of only 18 estates to be able to claim this revered quality status. The wine itself is our bestselling wine most years and is a crisp, dry and elegant blend of Cinsault (35%), Grenache (35%) and Syrah (30%). Very pale in the glass with notes of pink grapefruit and a palate that seems to blend delicate white peach flesh with dried raspberry and a long crisp finish.

So, wherever you’re planning to be for the next few weeks don’t forget to pack a corkscrew and some suntan lotion.

Oh and your swimmers, maybe a sunhat, a mask and perhaps your wellies!

Same Hymn Sheet

July 17th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Another week, filled with its own challenges like many that we have experienced recently.  Events of the week have resulted in dictionary consultations on more than one occasion, just to check that we hadn’t been misled at school.  Some examples are:  

Joined up thinking – thinking about a complicated problem in an intelligent way that includes all the important facts.

To think outside the box – to explore ideas that are creative and unusual and that are not limited or controlled by rules or tradition.

Blue-sky thinking – the activity of trying to find completely new ideas.

Thinking before you speak – an important skill to master for all kinds of situations to improve your relationships with other people and enable you to express yourself in a more effective way and gain trust.

To sing from the same hymn sheet – To have the same understanding of something as someone else; to say the same things about something as other people, especially in public.

Truth – conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true; sincerity; integrity.

Can’t remember what prompted our consultations exactly but I’m sure the names Johnson, Gove and Hancock were nearby – which obviously then led us to look up the meanings of these surnames, since we had the book open. 

Gove apparently relates to one who worked with metals, a smith; or someone who came from Govan, in Lanarkshire; whilst the meaning of Hancock is someone who owns a farm, apparently.

Johnson on the other hand, only has one definition and it would be too vulgar to repeat it here!

But what do we have to worry about – any random unexplained act that Boris gets up to will always get trumped by his pal Donald across the pond.  I imagine you’ve already seen the image but if not you should find the Instagram of the Presidential QVC-like debut, promoting Goya products.  Looking like the least trustworthy 70’s car salesman/newsreader he posed in the Oval Office surrounded by Goya Red Kidney Beans, White Hominy Corn, Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning, Goya Coconut Milk, and Goya Chocolate Wafers.  All this a day after Ivanka posed with Goya beans on twitter – bonkers.

Yes, Donald Trump is still the President of the United States and has Sole Authority and when you’ve got that power you don’t have to explain yourself to anybody…

We are then reminded about how great the internet, the world wide web and social media are in a variety of different headlines:

Russian cyber spies attempting to steal vaccine research from Britain, US and Canada (Sky)

‘Almost certain’ Russians sought to interfere in 2019 UK election – Raab (BBC)

Twitter hack: Bitcoin scam targets Elon Musk, Joe Biden and Barack Obama (The Telegraph)

Blimey, it’s a rollercoaster.

FACEMASKS

I think I have now prevaricated enough and need to return to where we started, with the varied definitions of truth and hymn sheets.  Last Sunday, for one of the first if not the first time, Mr Johnson was seen in shop wearing a facemask.  Quite why England’s second most famous Covid victim (yep, Dominic still tops it here) saw fit to suddenly wear a mask seemed a bit odd to us.  Had he read some new research?  Unlikely, given his reputation for reading.  Had he got the virus again?  Surely not because if so he would have been at home, right.  Had he got a lovebite?  Hard to rule out.  Had enough pressure come to bear that he now had decided the time to wear masks in shops was nigh?  Hmmm….

And by the end of Monday, we knew the answer.  As of next Friday it will be compulsory to wear masks in all shops – however don’t feel like you have to wait until then, we might as well all start getting used to it because it’s going to be months and months before this decision gets reversed and we really don’t want you to stop coming to see us – unless of course you’re a shoplifter!

Otherwise, nothing much else to report – we’re open 4pm-7pm during the week, 2pm – 6pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday.  We are still doing plenty of deliveries so please, if your mask is in the wash and you’re desperate for wine don’t hesitate to get in touch!

And that, my friends, is that.  Another week done, it’s Friday night, fizz night and hopefully we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet!

¡Hasta luego!

Camping, Fanfare, Time For a Beer!

July 10th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I write to you today from the ‘sunny’ south coast where I am spending a couple of days under the cover of canvas, listening to the gentle pitter patter of drizzle on the flysheet and wondering when is a reasonable time to open a beer.  It’s our annual trip, a chance to catch up with each other after a hectic school year, to see what we’ve all been up to and to spend some proper family time, without TikTok.  Except there has been no dearth of family time over the last few months, I have never been so excruciatingly up-to-date with my teenage children and their idiosyncracies whilst my wife has started cycling into work even though she can more fruitfully work from home, just to get away… 

But we’re out of London and actually, that is the most important thing.  Leaving the environs of SW19 and venturing further than Leatherhead was enough of an adventure; for those of you who are yet to embark on such an odyssey, sadly the M25 is still there.  The middle lane is still the place to travel at 50mph; the inside lane is, I believe, there for purely decorative purposes and doesn’t carry traffic, whilst the outside lane is for nutters who want to travel at 70 and enrage the middle lane tut-tutters.

Anyway we’ve got here, tent up, wood chopped, dog tethered, 2 arguments down and already we’re having fun – is now not a reasonable time to open a beer?

Meanwhile, back in the smoke, it’s been quite a week.  Well actually, not really different from any other of late.  Test cricket came back and with it the rain clouds on day one followed by a total collapse on day two – have we really been missing this?  The Ryder Cup has been postponed and the Epsom Derby managed to sneak under our binoculars last Saturday.  Rosé sales are still buoyant, barbecuing is still a thing and the Volvo is still circling the grid on a regular basis.

And, with much fanfare, pubs opened last weekend, although actually a lot of them didn’t.  Likewise restaurants but not all of them.  We were intrigued to watch our Chancellor dishing out meals at Wagamama’s on Wednesday, without following face mask guidelines – a very Cummingsian/Trumpian approach.  Indeed, none of the staff had any masks on so, certainly not for the first time in recent history, we’re all a bit confused as to what is correct form.

This all followed Rishi’s announcement of more money from his magic money tree.  I can only hope that the nurse who asked Theresa May for a pay-rise 3 years ago and was told there was no such tree has written a letter to Mr Sunak….

The most entertainment has probably come from across the pond as Mr K West reiterates his intention to run for President of the United States.  His party will be called The Birthday Party and he would be running against his pal Donny T but what the hell, why not get yourself on the front page of all the papers once again, tantalise us with the jaw-dropping prospect of a Kardashian FLOTUS, even if it is all just a clever joke

In other, definitely unrelated news, ‘Wash Us in the Blood’, the new single from Kanye was ‘dropped’ last week.

And finally we can all get our nails done and our eyebrows threaded.  And then go to the gym and then for a swim, as long as we don’t do the butterfly, whilst showing off our freshly inked body art.  The latest round of venues allowed to re-open has been announced, and hooray for that, when you read on the other page that Boots and John Lewis are the latest to announce sweeping job cuts.  We find Boot’s a bit of an odd one, being that they were allowed to be open – whilst not functioning at full capacity, agreed – it just goes to show how much of their turnover derives from all those sandwiches and bottles of water they sell.

That’s it from us – the shop is open from 4-7pm today and from 2-5pm tomorrow, to give Wayne enough chance to do all those deliveries you’ll be asking for – sunshine is on its way back and we have plenty of Rosé on board, just so you know!

Surely now it’s a reasonable time to open a beer?