Beaujolais, Solar Power and Hospitality

November 20th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So yesterday, as you all know, was Beaujolais Nouveau day. 

As has happened since the early 1970’s, in the early hours of Thursday, chaps with vintage RAF moustaches and names like Squiffy, Blunder and Blatter all arrived in the vicinity of Romanèche-Thorins in their vintage MG’s and Triumph Spitfires, ready to take part in the race from the heart of Beaujolais to the heart of London.  The aim of this race is to be the first to bring the new vintage wines from Beaujolais to the eager drinkers in wine bars around, for them to enjoy with their ‘Beaujolais Breakfast! 

Sadly though, none of actually happened – 2 weeks quarantine, the famous vulnerability of old Triumph’s and the truly desperate situation of there being no wine bars open, has all rather put paid to the fun this year and thus Squiffy & Co will have to find their kicks elsewhere.

As a consequence, blaming the global pandemic in a way only the shabbiest of operators would, we therefore have no Beaujolais Nouveau.

Equally, as Wayne has just pointed out, it could just be that we didn’t order any, because we’re not sure if we like it or not, but that seemed a little too blunt and honest statement to start the email with!

We do however have Beaujolais Ancien should you wish to scratch that itch – the particularly juicy Cuvée Six Villages 2018 (£10.99) and the more concentrated Cuvée Sept Fleurie 2018 (£14.99) are both a joy to behold and frankly are far better than anything you might have had for breakfast yesterday!

Moving on from the disappointments of yesterday, let’s look at ones in the future instead. 

We are now well and truly ensconced in silly season, the earliest of the Christmas parties should be starting this week and the on-trade should be gearing up for the busiest 5 weeks of the year.  Christmas falling on a Friday should mean good trade all the way up to Wednesday 23rd since a lot of people would stay at their desks longer in order to ensure not having to come back before 2021. Then the pubs and bars and restaurants and hotels would benefit from Monday and Tuesday of the week being busy like a Thursday or Friday –  money to be made, fun to be had and an industry given a small boost.

However, will bars and restaurants open before Christmas?  It seems there are as many articles saying ‘yes’ as there are saying ‘no’ but the most worrying research comes from a recent survey conducted by CGA.  

Talking to members of UK Hospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping, the shocker is that over 70% of businesses could close in 2021 without further government help, if we continue under the current tier system.   And in the short term, further government help would be better directed at letting them re-open before Christmas than further cash injections.  Given the choice between trading for 3 weeks in December or trading for the first 6 weeks of 2021, 100% support for the December option would be the most likely outcome, we reckon.

So Boris, when you read this, if there is any chance that the science says we can re-open hospitality for December then please make it so!

And now for the less gloomy news….

Tough to find much glimmering out there but the flurry of potential vaccines is a huge positive for us all, surely.

Listening to Bryson DeChambeau, pre-tournament Masters favourite, claim that Augusta would be like a par 67 for him and then proceeding to watch him card 70-74-69-73, tied for 34th place.  In fact, prior to this year he has only carded under 70 on one occasion, in 12 attempts.  Schadenfreude is the word.

For the first time in 22 years Scotland qualified for a major tournament – Euro 2020 – and with it the tantalising prospect of a match against England at Wembley on June 18th next year.  For England fans this will be a great opportunity to watch the second half of the 1996 Euro meeting between these two teams and enjoy the Gazza goal/dentist chair celebration one more time; https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/football/21314242

And finally, something that should maybe have happened ages ago:

Sol Brewed With Solar Power

No need to elaborate really on this great piece of renewable energy/marketing, we just wonder how long it will be before ‘produced using biomass energy’ becomes as much of a selling point as organic, low sulphite or vegan on a label?

I’ll leave that with you…

Recommending Wine

November 13th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What has happened in the world this week then? From our unseasonably mild, socially distanced outside seat we have noticed that all is not well at No.10. Lee Cain, who has nothing to do with oven chips yet everything to do with running the country as an unelected “communications officer” who has Boris Johnson’s ear, has resigned.

For our part we’re hoping he gave Boris his ear back before he left but also there is an outside hope that self-proclaimed superspreader (err, I think you might mean superforecaster!) might himself take off on a one way trip, as Lee was his mate.

Fortunately, there is nothing else pressing on the agenda, the global pandemic has turned tail and fled, and the country is absolutely fully prepared and ready for the all the opportunities that the Brexit deal is presenting us with in January.

Here at Park Vintners towers there’s been a bit of a to-do as well. Both Wayne and Alex were tasked with recommending a red wine to a customer, who took both home for the weekend to try. Now when we recommend wines, we obviously try and fit the wine to the brief we’ve been given. In this case there had been talk of low intervention, interesting grape varieties and genuine drinkability and interestingly we both chose wines from countries that speak Spanish, and indeed even contained similar grape varieties.

Expecting the big reveal on Monday, we waited on tenterhooks wondering whose choice had proven most drinkable. Well I can tell you we were both disappointed to hear nothing on Monday, the jury still being out by all accounts. Well, when the result came to us on Tuesday there was some surprise and consternation , Alex well and truly spat the dummy out,  refusing to accept that Wayne had chosen the more approved of wine. Rufus, in his capacity as Chief of Spaniels, hastily arranged a press conference in the car park at Pets at Home and Wayne cheekily recommended Alex’s choice to another customer in the interim. Fortunately sense has prevailed, we’ve sorted our differences over a game of tiddledywinks, and it has been agreed that wine recommendation is not a competitive sport unless you’re an American Sommelier in Molly Birnbaum’s “Season to Taste”. The usual zen like calm has returned to 126 Arthur Road.

In other wine news, we’ve had a backwards and forwards with our chum Jack. Those of you with long memories will recall he is a long-time confidant who tends to provide us with the occasional bit of posh kit, interesting information on obscure parts of the wine trade and good laughs on the odd occasion we get to the pub. Not so many laughs this year for obvious reasons but we have to hold our hands up and say we’ve bought some nice bits of claret from him.

We’ll start off by saying that, as always, we’ve tried to choose wines that are just coming to their perfect spot for maximum pleasure, we’ve unusually gone with all the same vintage because 2006 is just bang on the button now. Personally, I’d have to say the Haut-Bailly isn’t one we see very often so we certainly weren’t going to pass up an opportunity to get what Jean Delmas, winemaker at Haut Brion for 40 odd years, described as the best terroir in Pessac-Leognan bar none.

Château Haut Batailley 2006, Pauillac – £55

“Tasted at a vertical tasting at the château. The 2006 Haut Batailley is a wine that I have always appreciated and at ten years of age, I have no reason to change that view. It has a such a lively and vivacious bouquet, especially when compared to the sultrier (if ultimately superior 2005 Haut-Batailley). The palate is underpinned by very fine tannin, the acidity quite noticeable but simply lending freshness and tension. There is a sense of this being a Pauillac that is tightly coiled and there is a lot of energy on the finish. This is a great success for the vintage, but if you can wait another couple of years, it should manifest more intriguing secondary notes and turn into a more interesting Pauillac. Tasted July 2016. Drink Date 2018 – 2035”

Score: 91 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (231), June 2017

Château Haut-Bailly 2006, Pessac-Leognan – £90

“The 2006 Château Haut-Bailly has a refined and pure bouquet with hints of dark chocolate infusing the precise red berry fruit. I love the way this seductively unfurls in the glass, as if a finger is beckoning you. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a keen line of acidity, quite grippy and backward towards the finish, suggesting that this will benefit from another year or two in bottle. Elegance and power here, a Haut-Bailly cruising at a high level.” 

Score: 93 Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, May 2016

Leoville Barton 2006, St Julien – £90

“Not surprisingly, this wine is closed, masculine, but super-rich, with a denser, more complete and full-bodied style than its sibling, Langoa Barton. Some toasty vanillin is apparent in the black currant aromas intermixed with tobacco leaf, cedar, and spice box. The wine is full-bodied and has a boatload of tannin, not unusual for this estate, as well as an impressively pure, long finish. Everything is here, but this wine, made with uncompromising vision, is meant to be cellared for an exceptionally long period of time. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2035.” 

Score: 91+Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (181), February 2009

Domaine Belleville Chambole-Musigny ‘Les Drazeys’ 2015 – £62

Tasting the wines at this estate are one of the reasons we joined an independents buying group. This is beautifully aromatic with violets, dark cherry, raspberry and black tea leaf character. The palate has a lovely mouthfeel with silky tannins, those same berry fruits, a touch of minerality and a really long finish. When we first tasted it, we gave it a very rare 3 ticks on the tasting sheet. As far as we can see keeping a little back in the cellar for an extra year has meant we’re just about the only stockists in the UK now. Very Limited.

For the white wine drinkers amongst you lets chat about Christian Bellang…

In 1974 Christian Bellang took over his parents’ estate with vines mainly in Meursault as well as some of his father in law’s vines in Savigny-Lès-Beaune. His son Christophe joined him in 1995 and together they expanded the estate to a total of 9 hectares. Today Christophe manages the estate and bottles around 40% of production under his own label. He makes wines which are fruit forward, easy going and perfect for drinking young.

Vines are grown according to the principles of Lutte Raisonnée. The wines are vinified in oak barrels using indigenous yeasts and are aged barrel for between 10 and 18 months depending on the vintage and the appellation.

Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes 2017 – £55

This 1er Cru  at the southern end of the village is probably the best known of Meursault’s lieux dits, it is also the largest. This land has some of the best terroir in the Cote d’Or for white wine with its rocky, calcerous soils underpinned by broken limestone bedrock. This is wonderful, fruit forward in the house style but with some velvet glove power and a real elegance to it. Scrumptious!

Now that we’ve whet the appetite a little, who’s thirsty?

We’re Open with New Wine!!!!!!!

November 6th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Oop – Hapur – Oтворено – Obert – Otvoreno – Otevřeno – Åben – Open – Avoinna – Ouvert – Iepen – Geöffnet – Aνοικτό – Illuliat siamasissut – Nyitva – Opið – Buka – Oscailte – Aperto – 営業中 – Minogiwang – Oтворено – Miftuh – Foshlit – Åpen – Otwarte – Aberto – Deschis – Открыто – Fosgailte – Oтворено – Otvorené – Odprto – Abierto – Imefunguliwa – Öppet – เปิด – Açık – ‘Tala – Вхід – Ar Agor…..

Hopefully, I’ve managed to get the message across in as many different languages as possible but if it needs further clarification, we are OPEN. 

As an essential business (!) we are allowed to keep the doors unlocked and welcome in sensibly socially distanced customers, two at a time or two bubbles at a time.  We were allowed to stay open last time we got locked in but refrained as we really weren’t sure what to do/how to do it/who would get ill and when, or indeed if it was sensible to encourage lots of  people out of their lairs.  In this iteration however, we are far more confident about where we all stand; confident that we all now clearly understand the do’s and don’ts, the social etiquettes, the mask wearing and the hand sanitising, the need to stay at home if you feel ill and frankly the serious nature of what we have endured for the last 7 months. 

So, yes, we’re open but should you not want to venture out because it’s cold, then we are still delivering – 6 bottle minimum order – should that be of interest.

Our slightly revised opening hours are:

MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY – 4pm – 7pm

THURSDAY & FRIDAY – 2pm – 8pm

SATURDAY – 12pm – 7pm

SUNDAY – CLOSED

Anyway, that’s our news, what’s been going on in the wider world, anything fun?  To be honest, as more of us get sent home there really shouldn’t be any news.  Last night was the quietest Guy Fawkes night I have ever known, it felt like an early January evening; mind you, it seems that many of us have been out every night so far this week so perhaps an evening in is just what is needed – here you go, have 28…

Saying that though, Guy Fawkes’ is the day of the annual Million Mask March.  Usually, the focus of this march is to address corruption in politics and civil liberty and the protestors tend to wear Guy Fawkes mask (or is it Salvador Dali?).  This year however the march was more focused on the current pandemic and the lockdown of course but hopefully the irony of the protester holding the banner saying ‘NO MORE LOCKDOWN  NO MORE COVER-UPS  NO MORE MASKS!  NO MORE LIES!’  Whilst wearing a mask has not been missed!

Meanwhile in Asian news, last week we passed the anniversary of the Military World Games that took place in Wuhan in late October 2019.  China won 239 medals, the USA just 8.  Home advantage clearly was well used here and the sports included Aeronautical Pentathlon, Naval Pentathlon, Orienteering, Wrestling and, of course, Golf!  Alex reckons that the golf is all something to do with spy training, courtesy of his intense study of James Bond films (RIP 007 #1!) and, as a point of no relevance whatsoever, Brazil won all four of the available gold medals.  You have been warned he said, as he tapped the side of his nose.  I think he’s talking rot but you should hear some of his other conspiracy theories about Wuhan 2019 whilst I pop down to the RMR unit on Durnsford Road to discuss handicaps.

Back here, Mr Sunak has extended furlough until the end of March 2021, which will mean over a year of the government funded scheme, which is good news for a lot of people but still begs the question that if he can find money for this, how was it so hard to find cash for Manchester, Wales or half term school meals?

And so, finally, to the US of A, the world’s largest economy, home to Mickey Mouse and Donald Trump.  Who is now in charge we ask ourselves?  Well actually, Donald still is, until January 20th next year at least, which gives him plenty of time to cause mischief and mayhem in the interim.  I wonder, when he looks at the news reports and sees boarded up shops across the country and hears of arms and ammunition being taken off display in stores, all due to fears of election induced social unrest, does he think to himself ‘my, what a great job I have done!’?

WINE NEWS

Because, yes, that’s really the purpose of this email.  Whilst tastings have been few and far between, we have manged to list a couple of new wines and welcome back a couple of old favourites this week.

New in, we have two champagnes from the marvellous Joseph Perrier.  We’ve been keen on these wines for years but have never quite been able to reel them into the shop but now they’re hooked.  As their website states: Founded in 1825, Joseph Perrier has been owned and run by the same family since 1888.  They own 21 hectares of vineyards, that  are mostly planted with Pinot Noir but include 2 hectares of Chardonnay.  All the wines are made with a keen focus on freshness and purity, a theme which runs right through the range and really shows its worth in the vintage cuvées which show impressive energy and poise and remarkable ageing potential.

Joseph Perrier ‘Cuvée Royale’ Brut NV – £36.99

35% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier, with three years of ageing, this vivacious champagne has a delicate nose of green apples and stone fruits.  A lively freshness balances the round and elegant citrus fruit on the palate.  Cuvée Royale’ alludes to the historic relationship between Joseph Perrier and Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, as their Champagne of choice!

Joseph Perrier 2008 – £70.00

A superb blend of 50% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir and 9% Pinot Meunier with 6 years of ageing and from an excellent vintage, this champagne has a bouquet of pure white stone fruit and honeysuckle leading to a richly textured palate with exotic citrus flavours and a hint of brioche.

Also new in, a wine from SA that we used to sell before we opened here and have always hoped to get back on the shelf.  Ataraxia was founded in 2004 by husband and wife team Kevin and Hanli Grant.  Kevin spent years getting to know the intricacies of Hemel-en-Aarde’s terroir as head winemaker of Hamilton Russell where he was very key in their upward trajectory.  We have currently listed the Sauvignon Blanc, which is the wine we know of old but will taste their Chardonnay once the new vintage arrives – it is meant to be world class!

Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – £17.99

This has minerality and grassiness ahead of pure, pungent fruit but still shows hints of passionfruit and citrus as well as green melon aromas – a lovely bridge between the New and Old world style of Savvy B.

We also welcome the return of the two wine from the our chaps in the Veneto, Monte del Fra:

Bardolino DOC 2019 – £13.99

Ripasso Classico DOC 2017 – £19.99

That should probably be it from me as it’s 1.45pm and I need to open the doors now and let you all in!

We’ll leave the last words to Sean (with a little help from Elizabeth Barrett Browning):

Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that it makes the ride worthwhile!

Tricks, Treats and Songless Movies

October 30th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The world continues to be a little on the crazy side.

For one, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found ‘serious failings’ in the way the Labour Party handled anti-Semitism. Labour leader Kier Starmer called the findings ‘A day of shame for Labour’. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, ever keen to learn from his mistakes still thinks it’s politically motivated by those against him and has now been suspended from the party. This is, of course, a conspiracy and he will be appealing against his whiplessness.

Onto another, there’s the David Bowie biopic ‘Stardust’, the trailer is out and it’s just premiered at the San Diego International Film Festival. One drawback is there are no Bowie songs in it! Can you imagine pitching that for funding?

Us: “We’re gonna make a biography about David Bowie”

Banker, dollar signs in his eyes already: “Fantastic, what songs are in it?”

Us: “Him singing a cover of the Yardbirds ‘I Wish You Would’”

Banker: “Yes, yes what else, ‘Life on Mars’? I love ‘Life on Mars’”

Us: “No, er, not ‘Life on Mars’, but it does have the man himself singing Brel’s ‘My Death’”

Banker: “What about ‘Man Who Sold The World’, that’s almost my theme song?”

Us: “No, the family won’t let us use any of his songs at all”

Banker: “How’s it a David Bowie film with Bowie songs? Close the door on your way out!”

Don’t be fooled by the name, Hollywood is a very strange place.

Marcus Rashford has had a good week. Whilst the Government scored political own goals over free school meals during the holidays (clue: the child is always the innocent!) he has scored his first hat-trick for Manchester United in their 5-0 drubbing of RB Leipzig.

In other sports news, the last couple of days in the Giro were immense, and worth catching up on if you recorded it, otherwise make do with La Vuelta which is also firing on all cylinders.

Somewhat alarmingly, astronomers have found a rogue planet floating through our galaxy. Apparently, it’s a bit smaller than earth and appears to be untethered to any sun. You can read more about it in Astrophysical Journal Letters, but given how 2020 has been unfolding, I’m slightly concerned it may be the Death Star, has anyone got Chewie’s number?

Halloween is tomorrow, is trick or treating allowed? We’ve all been wearing masks for weeks so perhaps we switch back to burning effigies in the back garden next week instead? I’m not that sure if I’m honest, I certainly think Guy Fawkes might introduce a much needed whiff of accountability to Parliament but what do I know?

Given the large amount of pumpkins changing hands this week, we thought we might do something a bit public spirited so here is a link to an excellent recipe for Pumpkin Pie:

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/nov/27/masterclass-recipe-how-to-make-a-pumpkin-pie-felicity-cloake

Alternatively you can roast the chopped pumpkin for around 30 minutes. Whilst it’s roasting, fry some chorizo in a little olive oil till it is crispy around the edges and the oil is coloured by the chorizo. Put the chorizo aside, in the coloured oil fry a chopped onion and a clove of garlic till tender, add the roast pumpkin, around a litre of chicken stock and simmer for 20 mins before whizzing it all with a stick blender till smooth. Serve in bowls with the crispy chorizo as croutons, perhaps a bit of crusty bread on the side!

For a wine recommendation with this I think I’d go with the Beaujolais Villages Cuvee Six (£10.99) a deliciously fresh red, with softness and freshness in abundance. If you’re going to insist on white how about Troballa Blanc (£17.99) a delicious Garnatxa Blanca from Costers del Segre in Spain, its fruit and mouthfeel give it about the right weight too.

That’s probably enough guff from us for a week, we’re here, we have wine and we can deliver.

Hands, Face and look there’s space in that rack for another bottle or two.

Rock on Tommy!

Jenkins Ear, Morzine & Britney Spears

October 23rd, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Hello, good evening and welcome to 23rd October 2020 edition of the Weekly Wine. 

At some point over lockdown we wrote our 500th edition of this Friday epistle, a landmark that was sadly overlooked in the hiatus of hot weather and rosé consumption but suffice to say we have passed that mark and still my wife hasn’t read a single edition. 

We had hoped that, by adjusting our opening hours post lockdown, we might increase our focus, that shorter hours would result in greater productivity over a diminished period and that many efficiencies would be made.  As demonstrated by the opening lines of this email and, indeed, the lines to come, it would seem we are still more than able to waste time researching dumb facts even when there is less time to waste – which is why we are now considered pretty unemployable by anyone but ourselves!!

So, in an attempt to avoid the real world and the long ramifications of engaging with the BBC comments pages, I have decided to look back in time (notes in italics from www.onthisday.com/day/october/23) and see what was going on today, in better times mostly… so let’s start with war (?)

1739 War of Jenkins’ Ear starts: British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declares war on Spain – a time when they properly knew how to name their wars, or perhaps a time when they didn’t rush into things – Jenkins lost his ear in 1731

1854 English newspaper “The Times” gives precise British positions in Crimea during Crimean War – good to see that Press muppetry has a long history

1989 Hungary proclaims itself a republic & declares communist rule ended – and this was a peaceful transition, which is not always the norm

Then we move into the word of science:

1814 1st plastic surgery is performed (England) – and people still remark on how little I’ve aged…

1977 Palaeontologist Elso Barghoorn announces discovery of a 3.4-billion year old one-celled fossil, one of the earliest life forms on Earth – potentially a joke to be made about Wayne but I can’t quite find it – a little help please?

2001 Apple releases the iPod – just to make us all feel old!

On the big screen:

1941 Walt Disney’s animated film “Dumbo” released – just discovered this is not based on a true story, damn, I seen a peanut stand, heard a rubber band, I seen a needle that winked its eye but I be done seen ’bout ev’rything when I see an elephant fly

1958 The Smurfs first appear in the story “Johan and Pirlouit” by Belgium cartoonist Peyo – the first blue movie?

2012 “Skyfall”, 23rd James Bond film, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem premieres in London – we should be watching the latest edition right now and drinking Bond branded Bollinger, sigh…

Classical music:

1998 Britney Spears releases her debut single “Baby One More Time” – I will never, ever get over hearing a 27 year old friend of mine singing along to this on a chairlift in Morzine – a personal memory, I know, but frankly one he should be reminded of in one of the board meetings he now leads

2015 Adele releases her single “Hello” – becomes 1st song with more than a million downloads in 1st week (1.1m) – that’s a lot of people buying music en primeur, if only we had that market

Sport:

2011 7th Rugby World Cup Final, Eden Park, Auckland: Tournament favourites New Zealand edge France, 8-7; crowd 61,079 – imagine that many people in one place at the same time – that’s one hell of a ‘working lunch’

Of course, this is just a snapshot of what has happened this day over time – closer to home, in our missive of 23rd October 2015 we encouraged you to vote for us in a Time Out Awards thingy, we encouraged you to drink lots of Rioja and, funnily enough, we encouraged you to go and watch Spectre with a bottle of Bolli – plus ça change!

No mention of current affairs bar this – Wayne has been keen to point out that the Giro D’Italia and the Vuelta a España will both be on the TV this weekend, side by side, and that his recommended drinking is Sepp Moser Classic Organic Zweigelt 2019 – £12.99, a rather tasty drop from Austria, not too heavy with soft tannins and spicy berry fruits.  But it’s not really about the wine though is it Wayne, it’s about the rather dandy velocipede on the label isn’t it?!

Thank you for listening, have a wonderful weekend  and don’t forget it’s an hour longer this time – clocks change on Sunday morning!

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!