Cows over the moon and other space stories

October 16th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As yet another crazy week in 2020 draws to a close we find ourselves again amused at the folly of a strange old world.

In Victoria, Australia a cow was rescued from a trampoline this week. It seems a herd of around 40 cows escaped from a farm and one was found trapped in a sunken trampoline, fortunately the rescued cow was ok, and able to walk back to its field unaided. Now, I have to confess as I read the story I had an image of cows bouncing on a trampoline to make it over the moon, and then one of them not making it as a hoof went through said trampoline.  I wonder if I over indulged in Gary Larson cartoons.

Whilst we’re on the subject of livestock, did you see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. Absolutely incredible the lengths the photographers will go to for the pictures though. Winner was Sergey Gorshkov with his time trap camera shot of a Siberian Tiger cuddling a tree. The camera was one of a number that was up for eleven months before capturing the image which, if you haven’t seen yet, is really majestic and worth seeking out.

In Deeside (Glannau Dyfrdwy if you prefer), the supermarket Iceland has launched a chicken nugget into space to celebrate their 50th birthday (no, really!). According to the company it took two hours to reach 110, 000 feet enduring temperatures of -60˚C before turning and heading back towards the earth at 200mph. We’re expecting it to land around 5.45pm when the oven chips should be ready. Is that why mums go to Iceland?

Meanwhile, in Stirling, train services were delayed when the station car park spilled a car onto the tracks. The black Renault failed to stop in the car park, failed to stop at the fence, went across the platform and came to a standstill across the tracks delaying trains for a couple of hours.

In Los Angeles, reports have come in that a China Airlines crew spotted someone flying in a jetpack as they came in to land. It is the second such incident in as many months and the FBI are investigating. We’ve tried to contact Tony Stark and Pepper Potts for comment but are yet to hear back.

In London, news arrived that you and I as taxpayers have employed a selection of consultants from Boston Consulting Group at a bargain basement DAILY rate of around £7,000 to sort out track and trace. I suspect we could have asked a district nurse to run it for considerably less than that!

Our correspondent in Italy has wine news with a frisson of excitement. In an operation code-named ‘Bad Tuscan’, Italian police have seized 4,200 counterfeit bottles of world famous Super Tuscan ‘Sassicaia’. The bit that made us smile was that the investigation was triggered when a couple of cops from the financial police came across a box of the fake wine that “had probably fallen from a truck”! By all accounts around 1000 cases had been ordered by customers from Russia, China and Korea at 70% below the market price.

Remember kids, if it looks too good to be true…

Lastly, the government has changed the rules of engagement, again. I’m sure you’ve all seen the news and the debate, we think there’s probably a joke to be made about ending in tiers but you’ll not hear it from us. 

Mad World!

Catching up!

October 9th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Read any news, lately?  No, me neither.  I will confess to having spent too many months reading the same old stories only able to tell the difference between each fable by the numbers/statistics used and the tilt of Boris’s quiff in the accompanying photo.  None of it is news though really, just developments of a saga that no one will ever want to recall around the fireplace:

 – ‘where were you in the great plague of 2020, Grandpa?’

 – ‘in a shop mainly, my boy, surrounded by wine and poorly written email blogs….’

 – ‘oh, how heroic!!’

Won’t happen.

Like many of you (!) I’ve had a bit more time on my hands for much of this year.  Again, like some of you I imagine, I haven’t nearly made as good use of this time as I could or should have done.  When I visited the shed at the end of the garden during one of last weekend’s downpours I discovered a certain amount of rain already inside it – if only I’d had enough time to re-felt the roof over the summer!  In a similar vein, I don’t seem to have caught up on as much TV as I thought I would nor has the list of films I would like to watch shortened.  This might be a blessing though, given the parlous state of the film industry right now.  Anyway, the other day I finally got round to watching Jools Holland Hootenanny, from December 2019.  Now, we all know that it’s pre-recorded but I am always impressed by the vim and vigour with which many of the celebs in the audience attack the celebrations – they certainly seem to be drinking like it actually is New Year’s Eve! 

Ainsley Harriott rattled on about sustainable meat and such like, Michaela Strachan talked about saving the world but then the value added Vic Reeves stepped up and, whilst I’m unable to find the quote from him, he basically opined that, in 2020, we all needed to buy more toilet paper.  Not just a few rolls but whole catering packs to keep us in loo roll for a good while hence.  And everybody should do this.  When Jools questioned what one should do with all this loo roll, Vic just gave him one of those looks that said it all.  And then everybody laughed at Yorkshires finest surrealist and moved on…

However, it is now clear that Vic knew what was coming and this was his warning to us – no dove from above this time, straight from the hip.  So from now on, when Vic speaks, we should all listen up!

Not sure what Vic has had to say this week but I imagine he might be reiterating his advice as we seem relentlessly drawn towards another lockdown of sorts.  A lockdown that still lets the kids go to school of course but doesn’t let their custodians go to the pub afterwards (note to self, must finish watching Teachers during this second lockdown…)

It does seem inevitable now that some further restrictions will be put on our movements, the famous circuit-break, and I genuinely think the pubs and bars will be hit hardest and earliest, especially if we consider what has happened in Scotland and Paris.  So, I fully expect to see none of you this weekend as you all go and support your local bars and restaurants before any announcements on Monday.

Should such announcements be made, then we imagine that they will not be any more restrictive than in Lockdown Part I and, as a consequence, we will be able to continue trading as usual.  Being better prepared this time and with 6 months of experience under our belts, we don’t envisage closing the shop this time but we do see ourselves back in the Volvo doing doorstep deliveries.  As ever, we’ll play it by ear and act accordingly.

Anyway enough doom and gloom, on to our happy story of the week – Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz.

When I mentioned Ratonero, Wayne’s first guess was that he was a little known domestique in the Mitchelton Scott team, who had crashed into a mound of plastic bottles during the Giro d’Italia.  But he was wrong of course.  He was also wrong when he suggested that Ratonero would be the new mascot for future premiership strugglers, Arsenal.  Third time wrong was his punt that it was a new Stranglers album…

In fact Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz is a breed of terrier, descended from our own Jack Russell, which has been given protected status in the city of Jerez as a thank you for keeping the cellars of the sherry bodegas rat-free for the last few centuries.  The dogs have yet to comment, however I imagine they are delighted with such an honour but it won’t change them and they will still be back to work in the morning!  Dogs of sherry – we salute you!

Anyway, that’s it from us, it’s now early afternoon on a Friday and it’s time for you to book that table at the pub, whilst you still can!

Until next time…

Salami and coleslaw cake anyone?

October 2nd, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, here we are already; we’ve made it to October. I’m using lights for my journey home, the sun is rather low in the sky if it shows up for the morning run and, frankly, is not showing up enough as far as I’m concerned. Sweaters and thermostats aren’t far off, are they?

You know what they say about everyday being a school day? Well, I’m definitely coming around to that point of view, as I discovered yesterday that many people say “Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits” or “White Rabbits” on the first of the month. By all accounts it’s to do with a superstition that if you don’t, you’ll have a month of bad luck. I always expect these things to be something to do with superstition but am more concerned that it has taken me way more than 600 first of the months to discover it.

Perhaps the reason I didn’t know is because we were always a “pinch and a punch” family. I always put this down to the casual violence of the 70’s but it would appear I’m wrong on that. It dates back to when people were afraid of witches. The pinch was of salt, believed to weaken witches, and the punch exactly what it says on the tin – a punch! So, there you go some information so useless you’ll remember it!

Whilst we’re on the subject of information it seems there are 47 different areas under some kind of restriction due to the virus. That’s forty seven different sets of regulations, the ignorance of which could result in a fine of £200. Different rules may apply in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I’m really sorry but the rest of this paragraph has been deleted because the rules changed before I’d finished typing it…

A court in Dublin has ruled that Subway can’t call its bread rolls bread because there is so much sugar in them. Salami and coleslaw cake anyone?

We’ve had a blockbuster of a Tour de France followed by the UCI World Championships in Italy where Anna Van de Breggen managed a clean sweep in the Women’s, winning both the Time Trial and the Road Race. She is going to spend the next twelve months overheating with two rainbow jerseys on. Chapeau!

The Men’s Time Trial was won by Filippo Ganna from Italy, and the Road Race by Julian Alaphilippe triumphing in a really exciting final lap. Poor old Wout van Aert was second in both, always the bridesmaid eh?

Now we rush headlong into Racetober (pending random rearrangement!). The Giro d’Italia starts on Saturday, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège is on Sunday. The Giro should be a wowser, partly due to the lack of a clear favourite and partly because the course looks fabulous. Before it finishes, Vuelta Ciclista a España starts, so we are definitely being spoilt plus there’s Paris-Roubaix to come too!

I’m sure you’ve all seen the Champions League draw, looks a tough one for Manchester United eh? Something that did surprise us this week was the announcement of Ladies European Tour Golf in Saudi Arabia in November; surely it’s not only us that think it’s a bit odd? Will there be many Saudi women golfers competing do you think?

On the music front it would appear that AC/DC are reforming, Fleet Foxes are back with a new album Shore which seems to have good reviews and I certainly enjoyed on first listen.  Disco lovers will be excited to learn that Horse Meat Disco have released their first album, on pink vinyl if you’re quick enough, and lastly, for those of us of a certain age, I think Annie Nightingale’s book “Hey, Hi, Hello” promises to be quite a read, pop it on your list!

On the wine front, now the grapes are in it looks like the third good vintage in a row for champagne, so make a note in the corner of the wine fridge, 2018, 2019 and 2020 vintages of champagne should be worth seeking out once they’re ready in a few years’ time.  In the meantime, 2008 and 2012 are both really rather tasty!

POTUS and FLOTUS eh? Hmmmm strokes chin!

Anyway that’s enough random musings from us for this week, look after yourselves and, should you be planning to pop in to see us, our revised opening hours are:

MONDAY to WEDNESDAY – 4pm – 7pm

THURSDAY & FRIDAY – 2pm – 8pm

SATURDAY – 12pm – 7pm

SUNDAY – CLOSED

Cheers,

NOT Hands, Knees and a Boompsydaisy!

September 25th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well here we are again another week, another set of rule changes. Here are a set of guidelines you may find useful, or not. In our strategy meetings with Dom we’ve found the doubling dice in backgammon very useful so have used it on the fines. A trip to the naughty step previously charged at £100 is now £200! When we said “Hands, Face, Space” we really didn’t mean “Hands Knees and a Boompsydaisy.”

Because the pub now has to close at 10pm the midweek football games are a bit earlier so that we can still watch the whole game in the pub. It seems that rogue  Covid is usually late to the pub and likes to hang around at the bar. So we are now only allowing table service and closing early in order to outfox the blighter! 

Please do remember to leave your track and trace details, they all go into the shoe box under Matt Hancock’s desk for safe keeping till Dido swings past for a rummage and to make some phone calls. Better still use the app, as the details go straight to a password protected inbox for immediate attention. If only we could find out who set the password, it doesn’t appear to be taped under the keyboard like normal.

Whilst we’re on the subject of normal procedure we’re a bit concerned that many of you haven’t actually been following the rules in quite the spirit we set them.

We’re fairly sure that we made it perfectly clear back in March that you were to work from home.

I know we let the builders go to work once they’d finished all the DIY at home. But how all of the office workers ended up back at the office we’re not sure. It was only a suggestion that maybe some of you might like to have a look at the office for a few days a week but you’ve now gone too far. So please work from home if you can. Not you teachers, we didn’t mean you, you keep going to work.

For track and trace to work properly you have to be where you’re expected, Dom’s spreadsheet is absolutely clear…

CategoryWhereabouts
Office WorkersHome
BuildersOn site/In the traffic
TeachersSchool
ChildrenSchool
PMFridge
Wayne & AlexShop/Volvo

We’re certain that’s cleared all that up.

In other news the National Trust has discovered that 93 of the properties it looks after may have skeletons in the closet that are a bit disagreeable. It’s possibly not breaking news but much of the history of the world has disagreeable parts to it.

In Brexit news it turns out that the UK’s first internal border won’t be down the Irish Sea but in Kent, which surprised us as we thought it had a Deal.

On a more serious note, if you find yourselves at home isolating, shielding or just too busy to go out we are still doing the rounds in the Volvo. Email us an order on shop@parkvintners.co.uk and we’ll work it from there. We’d ask you buy six bottles is all. If you’re coming to the shop we’re now mandated to wear masks, so for identification purposes Alex will wear a beard under his mask and Wayne won’t.

Monday morning saw us way up north in Camden Town for a tasting, our first since late January. The first thing we noticed was there aren’t many punks or goths around at 10 am on a Monday morning. That aside we tasted some interesting wines by and large, a few new vintages of current listings (one of which will be moving backwards!) There was some new wines too that’ll show up in the future, and some that never will.

There were a couple of wines that are in stock that we got reminded of I think are worth a mention.

Le Veritable Jurancon Sec (£10.99) a lovely light easy going white made from Gros Manseng grown down towards Biarritz. It makes a lovely change from Sauvignon Blanc for that apéritif glass and also got a cracking write up in Decanter in a feature on weekday wine this month.

Cantine Povero Barbera d’Asti ‘Dianae’ 2019 (£14.99) is quite natural with hand-harvesting, minimal intervention in the winery, minimal sulphur too. Fermented in temperature controlled tanks and aged for 6 months in stainless steel.  The result is a velvety red with cherry and raspberry fruit character and medium to full body, just a touch of tannin to keep it tidy and a lovely long fresh finish.

That’s all folks, look after yourselves and shop@parkvintners.co.uk for a delivery!

10pm curfew?

September 18th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Wayne now being back from his holidays, replete with Galo de Barcelos tattoo and a worrying Sagres habit, can mean only one thing in Park Vintners life – summer holidays are now officially over, the nights are longer and red wine sales emerge from under the boulders that rosé stacked on them over the last six months.  So, actually, plenty to look forward to!

Although, saying that, one thing Wayne did bring back from the Iberian Peninsula, that is less appealing, is the idea of curfew.  Already, there are quite stern restrictions in place in Portugal with regard to sale of alcohol after certain times: no sales after 8pm for shops and supermarkets for example; and in restaurants and bars, alcohol can only be purchased after this time if food has been ordered alongside.  We have already seen localised, 10pm curfews over here – the North East has just been put under the cosh with similar constraints, which feels a bit rotten for Northumberland whose case rate was below the threshold.  Being the 6th largest county but with a population significantly smaller than Bristol, social distancing is the norm here and frankly it sometimes feels that many of the locals don’t need any encouragement to isolate further!

But, and I’m biased here of course as a licence holder, what is the gain of a 10pm curfew as opposed to normal 11pm or midnight closing.  Does Covid become suddenly more virulent at 10.30pm?  Doubtful – if so, we really need to be told.  Is it some sort of attempt to stop people drinking so much and thus losing control of their distancing radar?  Perhaps, although people will just go to the pub earlier or drink faster if they so wish – it’s not so long ago that we had stricter licensing hours and afternoon closing, for example, and people still found ‘a way’.  Will it encourage people to drink and eat more at home and avoid the pub completely?  This is very possible.  If you would normally book a table at a restaurant or between 8.30 and 9pm, which is historically a very popular time, then you are on the clock immediately, the moment you sit down.  ‘Why bother?’, will be many people’s decision.  At which point pubs and restaurants go bust meaning that when we finally escape these infernal times we will have nowhere to celebrate!

I have spent a bit of time reading a the most September issue of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and Alix Partners – a scintillating read, if you want a copy I can send you the link.  Anyway, the simple summary is thus: many more restaurants re-opened in August where previously pubs had been the majority – Eat out to Help out obviously encouraged this; 76.3% of all licensed venues were trading by the end of August, however London is the slowest city to recover, with 28.8% of venues yet to re-open.

And the good news?  Well, there is a genuine likelihood that we will be put under curfew given that Downing Street hasn’t denied the possibility and it looks like half term will be very much at home, so no good news really, sorry.

Blimey, that’s all a bit bleak.  Wayne has now told me that before I get into my rant about martial law and the end of democracy, I need to find something more positive to talk about.

And lots of important stuff has been going on, if you look carefully enough.  A man in Manchester, reclaiming the mad of the late 80’s perhaps, has been booted off the bus for wearing a live snake as a face mask.  Meanwhile, in Australia’s Northern Territory, a humpback whale, clearly looking to start a fight, has found itself in the aptly named East Alligator River – home to many, many Saltwater Crocs.  Most people’s memories of Kakadu are mosquitoes the size of golf balls, so this should be a nice distraction!  Finally, in the real world of football, famously cash-strapped Lionel Messi has won a 9 year battle to make his name a trademark and a famously almost bankrupt 31 year old ex-Tottenham player is perhaps about to be re-signed by his old club for more money than the club captain is earning – Daniel Levy is definitely having a funny five….

The Tour de France grinds on, where grimaces up 18% slopes on Wednesday just went to show that this is not a sport for the faint hearted; then in the evening Eoin Morgan was clearly tippling from the same bottle as Mr Levy when England snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by bowling Rashid rather than Curran in the last over.

For anyone that doesn’t follow cycling or cricket, I imagine that last paragraph might as well have been in Greek!

And so to wine.  Still no new wines to talk about really, although, as mentioned last week, we will be out at a couple of tastings on Monday 21st, so fingers crossed.  On a personal note, I re-discovered my utter delight in the wines of Montalcino last weekend, with a splendid bottle of the lightly oaked Sangiovese proving a fine partner to some sirloin and sausages from the barbecue.

If, like me, you’re keen to reconnect with Tuscan treasures, it would be hard to look past the San Polo Rosso di Montalcino 2017 – £24.99, which comes from a vintage that started cool, was stink hot in August but this heat was then balanced out by rain in early September to help the grapes reach ideal ripeness.  Bright ruby in colour with a nose of Morello cherry and blackberry with just a hint of the light toast of 12 months in oak.  The palate continues this fruit theme with smooth, finely-balanced tannins and a persistent, aromatic finish.  Bistecca alla Fiorentina is the idea match here, but I’m not sure how many of us have a wood fire to cook it over!

Should you wish to up the ante, we do of course have:

Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino 2012 – £53.50

Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2013 – £64.00

…both of which are stunning.

There you go, a little bit of chat about wine and I feel noticeably better and more positive!  It’s Friday afternoon, the sun is out and it looks set fair for the weekend – Wayne, let’s have a cocktail, things could be a whole lot worse!

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!