It’s that time of year…

November 15th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Panto season or, if you prefer, election fever seems to be upon us this week.  Despite everyone knowing the first rule of Fight Club, all shapes and sizes of politicos have donned boxing gloves to show just how tough their message really is.

We’ve had Boris give photo editors everywhere a real conundrum by wielding a mop; elsewhere, despite dishing out taxpayers cash like Father Christmas, Jeremy Corbyn has sent back the red suit and passed up his seasonal work due to calendar conflicts. Nicola Sturgeon categorically denies playing the part of Excitable Edgar in the John Lewis advert and Jo Swinson insists she is perfect for the part of Girly Swot.

The chief beneficiary of the ‘anything you can spend, I can spend better’ song appears to be the NHS, with at least £6 billion coming their way, allegedly.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the enquiry has put on its smart shirt and gone public. Demonstrating a firm grasp of proceedings Trumpolina has tweeted that he will resist any moves to make him eat peaches.

In heart-warming news from North Carolina, three cows thought washed away from an island by a hurricane, have appeared at the Cape Lookout National Seashore Park. It seems the three stranded cows swam up to five miles to make it to the Outer Banks barrier islands. Swimming cows, who knew?

In wine news, thieves broke into the Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest at 3.38 am on Monday and stole 80 bottles of wine worth an alleged £65,000. Police say to be on the lookout for ‘high quality wine offered at low prices’. No s*** Sherlock! Try the ‘new’ house red in all the local pubs immediately says Alex, who knows much about country ways.

Meanwhile, here at Park Vintners, Wednesday’s chilly evening saw a dozen people wander into the night armed with knowledge of dosage, blending and the tasting of more than sixty wines, not to mention the secrets of Alex’s magic box of smells.  We shall announce some new dates in the near future.

It’s that time of year…

Alex will be at St Matthews Church Fair in Raynes Park on Saturday, so do pop over and say hello if you’re in the area, he’ll have a selection of things to taste or chat about.

Magnums –essential for every dinner party, or perhaps gatherings of more than two people, we have a selection of deliciousness to suit every pocket!

Champagne

Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee NV – £70.00

Champagne Moutard Prestige Rose NV – £75.00

White

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018, New Zealand – £41.00 

Red

Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza 2016, Spain – £25.00

Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2015, Languedoc – £27.99

Meerlust Red 2014, South Africa – £29.99

Filus Malbec 2016, Argentina – £32.00

La Cote Sauvage Cairanne 2016, Rhone – £34.00

Chateau La Grave 2016 Medoc, Bordeaux – £38.00

JP Moueix St Émilion 2015, Bordeaux – £46.00

Parada de Atauta 2015, Ribera del Duero, Spain – £46.00

Tahi 2010, Roussillon – £50.00

Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2009, Spain – £52.00

Meerlust Rubicon 2014, South Africa – £58.00

Tasting This Weekend

Somehow this week the idea of fish pie appealed so we put the white sweater onto a bottle of Palacio del Camino Real Blanco 2017 – £10.99.

This is a cracking blend of Viura, Malvasia and Grenache Blanc grown in the higher vineyards of Rioja Alta.  Pale yellow in the glass with lovely fresh aromas of stonefruit and citrus, framed with a touch of vanilla from a couple of months lazing around in the barrel, we reckon that white Rioja, in the modern style, is one of the world’s most under-rated wines. 

Alex seemed less keen on fish and suggested game pie, so sporting the red hoody will be Chateau Haut Barrail 2015 – £16.99.

This Merlot focussed wine will be ideal. Cyril Gillet has 30 year old wines to work with and has presented us with a solid, stylish and well-made claret full of damson fruit and gentle oak spice that’ll be perfect.

That’s us for another week, London Jazz Festival starts today, we’re sure it’s not all sold out and there’s loads of free gigs too so do check it out!

New In!

November 8th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Sorry to say it so early but Christmas arrived here yesterday at Park Vintners. 

As with many of us whose survival relies entirely on goods arriving from abroad, when we heard faint rumour of a proposed exit from the Union of Europe at the end of last month, we made certain that we had ordered enough stock to arrive in the UK before we were confined to solitary.  As a consequence, since mid-October, we have had what is professionally known as a stinkload of stock sitting in a repurposed bunker, somewhere underneath the plain of Salisbury.  Whilst our wine was undoubtedly safe there, given the amount of military manoeuvres going on overhead, it was costing us too much money in rent.  Thus, with a heavy heart, we got them to deliver the bulk of it to us yesterday and, given that Alex is suffering from an entirely self-diagnosed bout of housemaids knee, Wayne moved over 100 cases of wine downstairs by himself yesterday – he definitely earnt himself that pint in the pub last night! 

Obviously, since he wouldn’t have had to have done this had we not had to order in anticipation of EU exit that never happened, we can still happily blame Brexit for making us mention Christmas so early in November!

In the world outside the shop, Westminster seems to be continuing its clear-out as more MP’s decide they don’t fancy the coalface anymore, all of this published on Twitter of course, the modern day politicians social media conduit of choice.  And the twitter supremo, Mr Trump is also facing a potential clear-out of his own, should his impeachment bear fruit.

Sport ceased to exist at about 11am last Saturday and we’re now all about Chamber Music.

Actually it came back to life for all the wrong reasons as rugby club Saracens were found to be doing a Man City and got a fined and docked 35 points for basically paying their players more than they should.  They are of course appealing this fine and points cull but in the meantime should they still be allowed to play in Europe?  Probably not.  The man sitting on the fence did observe that since Saracens contributed the spine of the England Rugby team, was their rule-breaking in fact a good thing?  Hmmmm.  He also pointed out that until just over a year ago Sarries was 50% owned by South African investment company Remgro – here I think he’s just trying to stir up trouble so we’ll move on…

Happily, not all the cases of wine ended up downstairs, so here’s a quick list of our new listings:

FRANCE

Champagne – Delavenne Père et Fils Grand Cru Brut Rose NV – £45

Burgundy – Domaine Fournillon Chablis 2016 – £16.99

Loire – Domaine Jouan Frère et Soeur Menetou Salon 2018 – £15.99

Rhone – La Cave de Gigondas Vacqueyras Raveil 2016 – £18.49

ITALY

Abruzzo – Collequieto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 – £10.99

Piedmont – Cantine Povero ‘Priore’ Barolo 2015 – £33

SPAIN

Costers del Segre – Mas Blanch I Jove Sao Abrivat 2016 – £17.99 & Mas Blanch I Jove Troballa 2018 – £17.99

Priorat – Marco Abella Mas Mallola 2015 – £27.99

USA   

California – Vina Robles Viognier 2018 – £19.99 & Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – £24.99

SPIRITS

We’ve restocked a few of these and listed a couple of new ones, so here’s a snapshot:

From Calvados we have reshelved the Chateau du Breuil VSOP – £35.99 and also the fabulous Champagne Cognac Jean Fillioux La Pouyade – £54.00.

And then we went to Scotland.       

From Islay we got the Finlaggan Old Reserve – £36 back on the shelf and also the Speyside favourite, Benromach 10 year old – £40.

New listings that we’re extremely excited about are the Benromach 2011 Sassacaia Wood Finish – £48, which is the perfect storm of quality whisky finished in fancy supertuscan barrels!  We’ve also managed to snaffle a bit of Macallan Double Cask 12 year old – £58.50 usually they won’t let us have any!

And then we went to Japan (gulp!).  We’ve been selling whisky from here for over ten years and frankly we should have invested in some of these when they only cost 50 quid:    

Hibiki Harmony Blended Whisky – £75, Yamazaki 12 year old – £120 and Hakusha 12 year old – £140.

TASTING THIS WEEKEND

It would be churlish not to open something new so I think we’ll broach the Domaine Fournillon Chablis 2016 and the Collequieto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018.  For those of you interested in the spirits, we do have the Benromach Sassicaia open, and also the Finlaggan and the Benromach 10 year old, along with numerous other gins and things.  Sadly, the Japanese ones are not open because we have so few of them, and no, not even if you ask really nicely…

That’s it from us for now, come and see us for a taste and a natter!

Where to start?

November 1st, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Feast or famine.  You wait for a bus and then three turn up at the same time.  It never rains but it pours.  Then the floodgates open.  And all hell breaks loose.  At which point it’s too late to lock the stable door because the horse has already bolted.

Whilst many idioms may not make light work, they do help to define our mood.  Weeks, nay, months have passed when we have been struggling to find anything newsworthy to type about and now we face a glut with a very real danger that we might have to leave some perfectly interesting titbits rotting in the fields.

Irritatingly, much like a Times obituary for a famous, but slightly doddery and faded movie star, we have had this week’s missive written for months in draft form, with plenty of quotes from other famous people bereaving the end of an era in such tragic circumstances.  However, our dead-in-a-ditch-do-or-die dear leader has let us down again and as such we have no email to write – or rather it will be moth balled until January, or whenever.

But hang about, as referenced in the first paragraph, so much has been going on this week, the loss of one headliner is by no means an issue.  We can talk about other politics, we can talk about wine, we can talk about sport.

Politics.  Where to start? 

We’ve got an election on Alex’s birthday which was definitely not on his gift list.  So far, we have more than 50 MP’s declining to stand for re-election, with sadly too many of them citing the persistent abuse they get as a determining factor in their decision to step down; this figure is yet to match the near 150 who stepped down in 2010 but that was in the wake of the expenses scandal – from which they, for the most part, escaped abuse.   Outside of Westminster, Hugh Grant has been called rude by Sajid Javid over a handshake or in fact a non-handshake and McDonald’s has shown a complete ignorance of Northern Ireland’s history in their ice cream adverts in Portugal.

On the other side of the ditch, The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History turns another page as impeachment gets a bit closer for DT who, in a fashion typical of those whose power is being eroded at home, is in full distraction mode trying to get everyone to focus on events in Syria and how he is dealing with ISIS.  Then his favoured platform, Twitter, announce that they are going to ban political advertising – his campaign team immediately attacked the decision as “very dumb” – such an erudite and elegant retort could almost have come straight from the POTUS’ mouth…

Wine.  Where to start?

With Gin, of course.  With the increased popularity of multi-coloured fruit infused juniper potions the coffers have been steadily swelling and it is threatening to overtake Vodka as #1 spirit.  The Gin category, in all its shades and shapes has made a net contribution of £2.4bn in both on and off-trades was £2.4 billion in the year to June – according to the William Grant & Sons’ Trending 2020 report.  This is an increase of 45%, we’re told.  In the same period the Vodka contribution was down to £3 billion, a drop of 1.5%.

Very exciting news for Gin but can it keep this momentum.  It may have increased by 45% but it hasn’t taken much of the vodka share – and such impressive growth is hard to sustain without innovation and I’m not sure where they can go next.  Meanwhile, Vodka stands calmly in the corner in a sharp suit and trilby musing – isn’t Gin just a flavoured version of me anyway?!

Sport.  Where to start?

“I don’t know when I last had so much fun in a football game.” 

Thus spake Jurgen Klopp after the astonishing game against Arsenal.  Liverpool did win in the end so he was understandably happy. However you do feel with Jurgen that he would have said the same even if they’d lost.

And the rugby also got a little more exciting, for some of us at least.  The ability of the English to become sporting pundits at the flick of a switch will never cease to amaze us and this week has not disappointed.  From discussing lineout technique whilst browsing Prosecco to questioning the South African box kick strategy whilst discussing Burgundy, it’s been a lovely week of exchanging opinion and gently ribbing the opposition, safe in the knowledge that none of us know what will happen in the finals but are all secretly hoping for the best.  After the semi-finals last week, Eddie Jones could easily have used the rugby equivalent of Jurgen’s quote above and I don’t think anyone on the planet would have argued.  To keep a lid on any over-optimism, I’ll refer to Matt the Stat who pointed out yesterday the following:

Of the 8 WCs, NZ have lost one final, and won 3.

Of the 4 WCs that the ABs have not won, the team that eliminated them has gone on to win the trophy once (Aus 91).

In three cases (99, 03, 07) the team that beat the ABs went out in the next match.

And no, he’s not South African.

Game on…

On the tasting table this week

As it’s all about Día de Muertos this weekend we’ll be opening all our wines from Mexico.

Correct, we don’t have any.  We do however have a delicious red wine from Argentina – Lazos de Sangre Malbec – £22.49 which fits the bill well, having sangre in the title and translating as ‘blood ties’ which, after all, is what Day of the Dead is all about really.  Very much alive in the glass, dark and brooding, with a rich, dark fruited nose.  On the palate we have the same dark berry fruit, hints of mocha, smooth and spicy with exceptional staying power.  We wrote ‘really rather good’ which now feels like a bit of an understatement!

After all the disarray of last night, the makeup, the sweets, the spiders webs and the general derring-do we thought the a Czech wine named Palava – £23.99, might be just the ticket.  Located in Moravia, the largest Czech winegrowing region, Sonberk is a mid-sized winery that is considered by many to be one of the best in the country, producing elegant and noble wines.  Established in 2003 but with a history dating to the 13th century, the Sonberk vineyard is 45 hectares with an extraordinary view of the Pálava Hill – hence the name of the wine.  Crisp and dry but with some wonderful aromatic notes and a really long finish – awesome with some Indian spiced mussels, we’re told.

That’s about it from us – 4 spaces left on our Wine & Cheese tasting next Thursday 7th November should the mood take you and you have a spare £20 in your wallet and with that we’re gone…

Goodnight, and may your God go with you!

A mullet as a mascot – have we just time-travelled?

October 25th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, we’ve had quite a week haven’t we? Whilst some of us snuck off for some strolling in national parks, or sub-tropical swimming at Centre Parcs, our hardworking devoted MP’s not only worked on a Saturday but they also managed to pass a Brexit deal.  Incredible as that may sound, no timetable for the debate can be agreed upon, and so it is suspended.  The EU are suggesting a flextension till probably the end of January which we think will come in handy for plugging in the Christmas lights.

It looks like Boris has no confidence in himself and is angling for a General Election on December 12th. This is bound to interfere with not only the Departmental Christmas parties that the Ministry of Fun has been planning all year but, more crucially, the new Star Wars film due out on the 19th. Have you seen the trailer? Looks great – Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker all show up. It even suggests a possible good bye to C-3PO; I doubt there’ll be a dry eye in the house. I have to admit to getting a little excited and will be asking Alex for an afternoon off to watch it.

Of course, by the time you read this it will all have changed again anyway (the politics I mean, not Star Wars, do keep up!)

Rugby World Cup semi-finals are this weekend and this commentator thinks both games are too close to call. England have just named their squad and it seems Slade is out, Ford is in and hoping to drive the All-Blacks to the airport, whilst Farrell is happy to be in centre. Meanwhile the fact that a mullet haircut has come to be some kind of mascot tells us all we need to know about New Zealand. That’s breakfast in front of the TV for Saturday covered, whilst Sunday we have Wales and South Africa to interrupt the sausage sandwich. Probably I misunderstood, but I will admit to being concerned when it looked like Wales may call up Prince Charles.

Spurs seemed to have recovered their mojo this week in Europe at least, which is more than can be said for Southend United who celebrated Sol Campbell becoming manager by losing 1-7 at home to Doncaster. It’s a sorry state of affairs at the bottom of League One this season.

In wine news, wildfire is raging through Sonoma County in California at Geyserville just above the Alexander Valley, whilst in Catalonia an entire winery and restaurant have been washed away by flooding. In France, fashion house Chanel has bought Provence rosé producer Domaine de L’Ile on the island of Porquerolles. Chanel also own Chateau Canon and Rauzan-Segla in Bordeaux and St Supéry in California – it’s not all about parfum it seems.

Dining Room

If you’re quick you may be able to bag a place for tonight’s pop up with Francesca. When I spoke to her at lunchtime yesterday there were a couple of places for this evening.

https://www.dining-room.co.uk/

Cheese and Wine Tastings

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – Just a couple of spaces left – £20 per person

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – Four places left – £20 per person

Tasting This Weekend

On the white front, we’ll go with Arena Negra Chardonnay (£8.29). From Chile’s Central Valley this inexpensive delight is soft and fruity and just the right sort of weight and fruit flavours to go with that roast squash or pumpkin that’s for dinner.

The red corner we will be standing Flametree Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (£19.99) up for your inspection. It’s a cracking Bordeaux blend from Margaret River made by Cliff Royle, one of the regions finest proponents. Apart from that, Wayne just fancied it!

Lastly for all of you with children studying German, we learn that the word for “Withdrawal Agreement Bill” is Austrittsvertragsratifizierungsgesetzentwurf….

Perhaps run that past them if you’re helping with the homework.

Cheers!

Play Nicely

October 18th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And so we bumble on and I think once again we have more questions than answers

Many weeks have passed since there was much frivolity to speak of in the media and now as the mornings get darker and the evenings start earlier it does feel like we are slowly moving towards something but god only knows what and he’s taken the last train for the coast…  

Will Canning Town be the moment that Extinction Rebellion misjudged the focus of their protests and actually lost some support by mucking up people’s early morning commute?  Or has it served to make their message clearer – it may be inconvenient but something needs to be done now, not later?  Not sure the tube, that can carry best part of 5 million people per day, was the most sensible target – perhaps the lorries chugging in from Tilbury on the eponymous flyover nearby would have been a better focus.

Will Wayne’s best buddy, Boris, get the deal he has agreed with Europe past the disruptors in parliament?  Less than 48 hours for the MP’s to thumb through the legal jargon before their Saturday detention when they will have to discuss it all and ideally come to an agreement – and then, as always happens when you cram, they’ll have forgotten everything by Monday and start all over again.

Will Trump or Erdogan win Man of the Year?

In a world where you can now unlock your BMW with your phone, should we be worried that anyone’s thumbprint can unlock the Samsung S10 or that the Pixel 4 Face Unlock works when your eyes are shut?  Perhaps test your tech before you release it, chaps?

Video Games by Lana del Rey wins song of the DECADE at the Q awards?

250 tubes of Prosecco and Pink Peppercorn Pringles, that were a Christmas special here last year have been seized from a supermarket in the Veneto, northern Italy, home to the infamous sparkling wine.  There are strict laws in place preventing the use of the word Prosecco for anything other than the local wine and thus they are suitably up in arms about this as they feel it breaks these protective laws.  I think they’re right.  It was a crime against wine, a crime against crisps and the pink peppercorns should feel ashamed of themselves from getting involved with such a cheap publicity stunt.  Above all though, why wouldn’t you want to eat something containing ‘polvere di Prosecco’ or Prosecco powder to you and I?

Has Owen Farrell picked the right team to beat Australia?  Sorry, did I say Owen Farrell, silly me, I meant Eddie Jones.  Anyway, I’m sure dropping Ford won’t come back to bite us.  Farrell getting red carded for a no arm tackle and us being down to 14 men, now that’s what’s going to really hurt.  Then we’ve got Ireland against New Zealand straight afterwards so we might all need a stiff drink by 2pm on Saturday.  Sunday brings us confirmation that there will definitely be one Northern Hemisphere team in the semi-finals as Wales and France lock horns and then Japan meet their world cup rabbit, South Africa.

Imagine England, Ireland, Wales and Japan in the semis?  269-4 are the odds of this four-cast, should you fancy.

I think I mentioned needing a drink by 2pm on Saturday a moment ago however, I suspect some of us may need a libation before that.  We all drank rather a lot of the fine wines from Domaine Treloar last night courtesy of Rachel, Lady Treloar, so I think we might avoid the southern reaches of France for now.

Instead, we’ll open a white from the DO Ribeira Sacra in Galicia. 

Alma Larga Godello 2017 – £16.99 is from precipitous vineyards overlooking the river Sil in Ribeira Sacra.  The terraced vineyards here are really steep and contain vines even older than Wayne and, much like him, less productive over time!  The significance is that older vines produce better quality grapes as evidenced here, rich with citrus orchard notes, a touch of mineral and a lovely long finish – of course, Wayne produces better quality work, as evidenced every day!

And the red will be the Familia Cecchin Carignan 2017 – £13.99.  This is a bit off the beaten track in a way, a slightly unfashionable French grape variety surfacing in Mendoza.  What we have is a bit of old vine Carignan, organically farmed and utilising minimal sulphur.  The wine itself is packed full with red cherry fruit flavours with a little wood spice and leathery note.   Layered and complex, this is a wine that really delivers and for those interested in such things, it is both organic and vegan – ticks all round!

So that’s about it for us – let’s all play nicely and stay calm, we’ve  got a tricky few days ahead of us and that’s before we add half term into the equation!

Cheers

Ninjas, Cunning Plans and Cheesy Fun

October 11th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A story that caught our attention this week and put a good feeling in our bellies.

Eimi Haga got full marks for an essay she handed into her professor entirely written in invisible ink. She was studying Ninjas and to write up her essay on a trip to the Ninja Museum of Igaryu, she used an ancient Ninja technique called aburidashi. You make the invisible ink by soaking soybeans overnight then crushing them and squeezing out the juice. I suspect what really caught our attention was that you can go to University to study Ninjas. We might save the invisible ink recipe for a Weekly Wine in the future.

Whilst we’re on the subject of invisibility and espionage it seems Colleen Rooney has been up to mischief trying to find out who has been leaking stories about her to the press. The story is too dull and attention seeking to go into here but headline writers have run amok. It even made it onto Peston which I had believed to be a political comment show. Wagatha Christie indeed!

Internationally, Trumpolina has again out fooled his advisers, this time withdrawing US troops from Northern Syria and abandoning their Kurdish allies. Ergon Dunit surprised nobody by immediately invading, killing civilian Kurds in the process of fighting those self-same allies.  Impeachment meanwhile is moving closer with even a poll on Fox News stating that 51% of the population wish to see him removed from office.

Closer to home a much talked about deadline approaches with what seems like indecent haste. For those who have not kept up, Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, he prorogued Parliament, which turned out to be naughty, so everyone came back to Westminster and shouted. The Speaker lost his voice (dereliction of duty surely?). A slightly amended deal was put to the EU with customs checks conducted in a shed down the road from the Irish border with some bathroom scales and a tape measure for accuracy. The EU sniggered and is thinking about it. Meanwhile, Boris and Leo have met up in the Wirral for a pint and a chat about the possibility of having either two sheds, or just an honesty shed with a camera. Funnily enough, where they held their meeting was where Coleen Rooney had her 21st  birthday party!

Sources have leaked to us what we think might be a Dominic cunning plan…

  • Boris triggers a vote of no confidence in himself, triggering a coalition of national unity.
  • Given that the opposition agree that the only thing worse than a no deal Brexit and you as Prime Minister is having to work together, this would probably trigger a general election.
  • To wipe out short shouty man, and not split the Tory party would be a bit tricky.
  • How about a referendum on the ways and wherefores of leaving or not:  “We your humble servants are incapable of finding a way through the impasse”.
  • One can then campaign to Leave to keep short shouty man on board, but obviously not enthusiastically enough to win.
  • The referendum lost, we’d expect the EU to be so happy we’re not leaving that they’ll revoke Article 50 and have a party.
  • Then you can call a general election, win handsomely as all the opposition parties are in disarray at the audacity of it all.
  • Victory speech “As you were ladies and gentleman sorry about a spot of timewasting the last three years.”  Then you’ll have plenty of time to swan around in an ill-fitting suit quoting Herodotus.

That’s enough theory from us. In booze news this week, we heard that Seedlip continue to roll out the Emperor’s Wardrobe with the launch of  Nogroni. If the name wasn’t enough to upset you, I can’t help but think it’s not even a new thing. Similarly flavoured Bitter Kas is an alcohol free bitter aperitif that’s been available for donkeys years, both Alex’s Dad and Wayne have been known to partake on many occasions.

Careful if you’re out drinking in Dorset…The son of a millionaire market owner, was refused service at the Sandbanks Yacht Club in Poole on 20 September reportedly visibly drunk. The guy then lifted his top, showed the bartender the handle of pistol tucked into the waistband of his trousers and told the him: “Don’t be a pussy, give me a drink.” He was arrested later at his home, but incredibly magistrates agreed to delay sentencing until 4 December to allow this oik to head off on a month-long family holiday in the Caribbean.

Who knew Poole was so edgy?

Cheesy Fun

Thanks to everyone who joined us for last night’s cheese and wine tasting, an awesome evening was had. Thanks also to the fine folk at Beillevaire for the scrumptious cheese.

The next one is Thursday 7th November at 8pm. There are still a few places left at £20 per person.

Tasting This Weekend

It being National Curry Week we thought it would be remiss of us not to open a bottle of Munay Torrontes 2017 (£15.99). Crisp, dry and zesty fresh but with an aromatic profile that works really nicely with those spices.

On the red front we’re going to go with a Bordeaux. Chateau Grand Gamelle 2015 (£13.99) is an unoaked blend of 60% Merlot, 25 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc with lots of plummy fruit. Whilst claret might not be the first thought when pairing with curry, my friend Harry and I both think the young fruity style goes down a storm with the more earthy Punjabi style curries and the Sri Lankan devilled dishes.

The rugby is blown off so there are no excuses not to drop in and say hi!

Before we know it we’ll be launched headlong into December festivities…

October 4th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, his nibs has returned from his sunfilled sojourn abroad, looking bronzed and relaxed and catching the eye of the single ladies of Arthur Road (60+ category).  If I have to hear one more time how ‘this time last week I was wearing shorts and eating souvlaki in the sunshine’ or ‘why does it rain so much in your country?  When I was away I didn’t see a cloud for weeks’, I might just end up doing him a mischief!

Joking aside, it’s nice to have him back.  I can now pop out to the Coop for two minutes and get my lunch without running the risk of missing the delivery or courier that I have been waiting for since first thing; I can do local deliveries in the daylight rather than at 9pm and perhaps I might even get a day off – welcome back, Wayne, watch the shop whilst I pop out will you?!

Every year, with Wayne’s return, we hit a watershed in the Park Vintners calendar.  Up until his departure in mid-September there was still the occasional waft of barbecue in the air and memories of summer and bank holiday weekends filled with rosé induced siestas still remained fresh in the memory.  However, we’re now in October, it’s getting darker earlier, Rosé is turning into red and before we know it we’ll be launched headlong into December festivities.

With this in mind, whilst I’ve had a bit of peace and quiet, not content with listing the English bubbles from Hawkins’ Bros, I’ve been buying Champagne – to get the party started, if you will. 

First up, we see the return of the Champagne Thiénot Brut NV – £35.99.  This has been a regular guest on our shelves for the last few years and it’s great to see it back in its smart red livery.  Lots of bright fruit on the nose and palate and a touch of honey and nuts on the finish – quite a lot of wine for a NV style we reckon.

Then we have a couple of new additions.  First up we have Champagne Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut NV – £30.99.  Alex has long had a soft spot for Canard Duchêne, it being a fizz that often slides under many peoples’ radar whilst offering excellent quality and value.  A red grape heavy blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay this is a seductive and elegant drop with hints of floral, tropical fruits and a hint of pain d’épices.  The palate continues this theme and finishes with a lovely, lingering freshness.

And finally, as a replacement to the Moutard Rosé which seems to have been dropped by our supplier we have decided to have as a guest the Champagne Lallier Grand Rosé Grand Cru Brut NV – £37.99.  A blend of 35% Chardonnay and 65% Pinot Noir what most appealed to us was the fact that it has crisp, fresh fruit, a gentle pink hue and a lovely soft mousse – very tasty.

DINING ROOM

Not sure if we’ve mentioned this before but always worth a repeat.  For the last year we have teamed up with Francesca who runs a twice monthly pop-up in Wimbledon Chase, providing wine to go with her delicious menus.  We’ll let her introduce herself: 

‘Where to begin? In the old days, before kids and endless responsibilities I used to work in restaurants – Alistair Littles, The River Cafe, Chez Pannis and Rick Steins to name but a few. And then I set up my own restaurants – The Cow Dining Room and The Vale to name a couple. Late nights, relentless hours, not much sleep, all work and not much play! But then kids came along and I knew that working nights and weekends was over. I found a day job which luckily enough was working for Riverford Organics for the last ten years. It has been great but somewhere deep inside I have always dreamt of doing my own thing again. The Dining Room is only very small, only the very start but like all good things, I hope that it will grow – like the kids did.’

Her next evenings are Friday 11th and Saturday 12th October and if you’re interested in learning more, the best approach would be via her website – www.dining-room.co.uk – judging from all the reports back, you won’t be disappointed!

I’M A CELBRITY

Quite purposefully we’ve been avoiding a look at the news this week because most of it just feels like groundhog day reporting but one snippet that did catch our eye was the fact that ITV are planning on building an ‘I’m A Celebrity….’ theme park in Salford Quays, famous for its rain, less famous for its tropical rainforest – squeeze the franchise ‘til the pips squeak lads!

DOMAINE TRELOAR – Thursday 17th October at 8pm – £20 per person

Three tickets left for this brilliant evening with Rachel Treloar from the eponymous wine estate.  She was with us in May and it’s certainly not an evening to be missed.  As a teaser, we’ll be tasting:

White

‘La Terre Promise’ 2016 – 50% Grenache Gris, 40% Macabeu, 10% Carignan Blanc

Red

‘Le Ciel Vide’ 2015 – 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache

One Block Grenache 2015 – 70% Grenache, 30% Lledoner Pelut

Three Peaks 2016 – 39% Mourvèdre, 31% Grenache, 30% Syrah

‘Le Secret’ 2013 – 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre

‘Motus’ 2015 – 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Grenache

‘Tahi’ 2011 – 60% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache

Sweet

Muscat de Rivesaltes 2013 – 100% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

THIS WEEKEND

Wines will be open once more from 5pm today until close tomorrow and this week both come from Spain.

The white will be Val do Xuliana Albariño 2018 – £13.99 – a crisp, orchard fruited and gently mineral dazzler from Rias Baixas in the northwest, whilst the red will be a return to an old favourite, absent from our shelves for a couple of years now – Campos de Luz Garnacha 2017 – £10.49 – which is made from old vines in Cariñena up near Zaragoza and is a constant pleasure to drink.

So pop in and have taste, compliment Wayne’s tan and book up for Treloar – done!

Are we just living inside someone’s lunatic dreamscape?

September 27th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

To borrow from Mrs Merton:

So what first attracted you to ninth in line to the throne, Princess Beatrice?

Or perhaps:

So what first attracted you to the Italian property tycoon, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi?

And then the answer arrives:

We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness – like skiing and holidays on yachts and working not very hard or too often… let’s see who ends up paying for the wedding shall we?

In truth though, I shouldn’t be belittling this romance because it’s actually one of the few pieces of happy news this week. 

Politics, on both sides of the pond, is in absolute mayhem and as a consequence has a somewhat surreal aspect to it – can this all really be happening or are we just living inside someone’s lunatic dreamscape?  Watching the mudslinging in parliament on Wednesday, frustration and vexation were in abundance.  What was also in abundance was mobile phone usage – whoever was sat behind the Attorney General when he was in full barrister-flood on Wednesday spent most of her time on her phone.  Now, I don’t know that she wasn’t scrolling through important government documents nor that the colleague next to her was watching House of Cards on her tablet but I do know when discretion is called for – a well-placed sheaf of papers blocking the phone from the television cameras would perhaps have been the guidance.  Moreover, it was distracting – never did we see her face, no matter how attentively we viewed, so we still don’t know who it was!

Thomas Cook finally curled up its toes this week, to much gnashing and wailing and reports of skulduggery in hotels in foreign resorts.  What we have learnt from this is that whilst we pay up front for the accommodation the travel company doesn’t actually pay the hotel until well after you have stayed there so, effectively, when you are actually in the resort, you are living on credit which is fine, unless your tour operator goes bust.  By all accounts there are towns in Spain that dealt almost exclusively with TC and will now face an uphill struggle to survive.  The real injustice here is that the writing has been on the wall for Thomas Cook for so long now but still they were allowed to make promises that they stood so little chance of being able to fulfil – which then leads to the question, as always, where has all the money gone???

It has been confirmed that Wayne did not travel on a package holiday so will not be spending an extra week in Greece, awaiting repatriation – we expect to see you on Monday, spick and span.

So with such headlines, apart from the royal engagement, where are we looking for our happiness this week?  Well, I suppose if you’re an Arsenal fan you can wallow in Tottenham’s spectacularly poor start to the season in all competitions.  If you’re not a cricket fan then you can relish the fact that the cricket season has finally finished and if you’re a rain fan you will have been very happy with the way the week has shaped up.

But now we can look forward because it’s the weekend and, for some of us, it’s payday, hooray!  Not wanting to spend your money for you but, you know, it is Friday and thus it should really be fizz tonight and with that in mind, I might mention that we’ve listed a couple of new English sparklers from Hawkins Bros. 

These have been brought in to replace the Herbert Hall primarily, who was just becoming too expensive for what he was putting in the bottle, which is ironic really considering the most common bugbear people have with English sparkling wine is the cost – but hey, let’s not listen to the punters, let’s just whack another tenner on a bottle and hope Brexit makes us the only choice?  Nice one Herbie, on your bike now!

Anyway, back to the brothers Hawkins, who are English wine producers based just south of Guildford, growing and making wine on the south-facing chalk of the Hogs Back.

Brut Reserve 2014 – £30

Dosage: 6g/l – Alcohol: 12%

Gold medal winner at the IEWA 2019 and Bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018

A classic cuvée from 2014, made and grown on the Hogs Back in Surrey.  This is a blend of 56% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier and has spent over three years ageing on its lees.

Baked apple on the nose, a soft mousse gives way to a palate of wonderful depth and complexity with a long citrusy finish.

Rosé Reserve NV – £29

Dosage: 4.5g/l – Alcohol: 12%

Bronze Medal International Wine Challenge 2019

Made in the Traditional Method from 95% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier.

A supremely elegant rosé with a subtle flavour of summer berries, a delicate pink hue, notes of strawberry, and fresh brioche from 30 months pre-release ageing.

Sound exciting, don’t they?  I took a bottle of the pink home last weekend on the false/fools assumption that, as my wife has always been a bit suspicious of wine that’s not either white or red, much of the bottle would be mine.  However, in a text book horse switcheroo mid-river, of which only she is capable, my beloved declared that it wasn’t that she didn’t like pink it was just that she hadn’t had a good one yet.  As she poured the last drops into her tankard, I could only surmise that this was a ‘good’ one!

Further to my missive from a week back, we still have places on some of our upcoming tastings, just a few less.  If you fancy an evening in the company of cheese and wine, or perhaps a winemaker’s wife, all for a mere £20 per person, here are the dates once more:

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 10th October – 5 spaces left

Domaine Treloar Tasting – 17th October – 2 spaces left

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 7th November – 6 spaces left

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 28th November – 5 spaces left

Tasting this weekend

As mentioned, it’s the last weekend of September and frankly we should be looking forward to hearty reds not delicate Rosés and shorts should returned to use for sporting purposes only, just so you know!  Last weekend we opened the World Cup Rugby with a head to head between Meerlust Red from South Africa and Alpha Domus ‘The Pilot’ from New Zealand.  Intriguingly the Meerlust was a clear favourite on the Friday evening and, for the first twenty minutes of the game on Saturday we thought our wine predictor might be onto something.  By the end of play on Saturday  though we had sold four times as many of the Pilot than the Meerlust – after a slow start it came back very strong, appropriate given the scoreline!

This weekend there are no obvious vinous clashes – I mean Uruguay v Georgia would be an interesting tasting and Ireland v Japan could lead to a whisk(e)y  fuelled late night but no, I’m not going there.

This week it’s purely about what I fancy tasting whilst the guv’nor is still sunbaking:

From the part of Italy that is almost Slovenia, we have Vigneti Le Monde Friulano 2017 – £15.99

Established in 1970 and recognised as a “cru” within Friuli, it is only under the current owners that the estate has really taken off.  This wine is made from 100% Friulano, with aromas of fresh flowers, citrus, lemon and green apple.  The palate is crisp and dry with again notes of apple, peach and pear with a subtle floral note. Good weight, perfectly balanced by a fresh clean finish – a delicious wine that often falls below the radar of many Italian white fans!

And from the Minervois in France, we’ve got open Chateau de Paraza ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ 2016 – £13.99 which is a Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre blend that give us a deep red garnet coloured wine with cherry and raspberry compote notes, red liquorice string in the background and a lovely juicy acidity.  A great all-rounder of a wine with red flowers and mineral notes entwining themselves with the fruit into a great finish  – if you enjoy the Rhône, you’ll enjoy this!

So pop by and have a taste, tell us some happy tales from your week and we’ll all be the better for it!

That’s it Sun, you’re done.

September 20th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, a quiet week, thus far, in the world of 126 Arthur Road. 

Apart from two Amazon deliveries for the people upstairs and a visit to the Coop for a spot of quality lunch, Monday flew past in a mêlée of paperwork and tumbleweed.  The great and the good of Wimbledon Park, which is you by the way, had clearly decided that tennis, the gym, running club or boot camp were far more appealing than a drop of wine and chat with a local entrepreneur, which is me by the way.  Such was my concern that, at 7pm, I had to call my wife to check for proof of life, concerned that I’d missed some sort of apocalypse and was now destined to be stuck alone for eternity on Arthur Road.  However, the very act of her answering the phone confirmed my worst suspicions – I hadn’t missed Armageddon, it was just Monday and my  utopian future of life surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine and steaks liberated from the ‘closed on Monday’s’ Casa Argentina, disappeared into the sunset.

And then Tuesday rocked up, filled with promise and sunshine and news that a tiny white cloud had been spotted over the Greek islands and all was good with the world.  Oh, and I sold some wine, if anyone happens to ask.  Wednesday was early closing at 1pm, as I always like to do when Wayne is away, traditional market day closing don’t you know, and a visit to a local hostelry to watch a north London football team throw away a 2-nil lead to cling onto a draw, not for the first time this season.

With Wednesday out of the way, Thursday came next and with it a phone call from the car insurance people.  For those who haven’t yet encountered the Park Vintners delivery mechanism, we have a 1995 Volvo estate that has a boot as big as a billiard table and a 2.5 litre engine – it’s a beast and we love it.  It would seem though that not everyone shares this love.  10 days ago, parked outside Wayne’s house for just one night, it underwent some fairly major surgery as some local charmer decided to slash all four of its tyres and destroy all three the windscreen wipers.  Genuinely didn’t know people did this sort of thing still but apparently they do and aggressively vandalising a stranger’s car is ok.  We reported it to the police who, I am pleased to say, have already closed the case due to lack of evidence but at least we got a crime number.

So anyway, the phone call from the insurance company.  Basically, the car is so old, none of What Car?/Parkers/Autotrader were able to give it a valuation, so they were going to write it off.

‘How much is the work going to cost’, I asked. 

‘£1800’, came the flat reply.

‘You’re having a giraffe’, I said, ‘four tyres and some windscreen wipers for the best part of two grand – I’m in the wrong job!’

‘Oh, is that all you want done?’ was the response, ‘we thought we were going to do all the paintwork too?’

At which point I laughed.  It’s almost 25 years old and lives on a London street, don’t fret about the paintwork was my instruction to them and, it would seem, the bill has gone down hugely and is no longer a write off.  A perfectly decent, reliable and useful car was about to be written off due to its paintwork – sometimes I wonder about the world of insurance!

And now we have reached Friday, time for the weekend to start up, the suns out again, it’s all good.

Away from my travails in Arthur Road, there has been a world going about its business without me.  Two iconic sporting figures were in the press this week, for reasons out of their control.  Whilst Gareth Thomas hasn’t named The Sun, they, or their like, were undoubtedly behind the blackmail that led to his HIV announcement.  Equally, we know for absolute sure that they were responsible for the Ben Stokes story this week.  It would be really nice to see the headline ‘That’s it Sun, you’re done’ and the end of this sort of sordid car crash/ambulance chase journalism, which actually isn’t journalism at all, but sadly I think this tabloid would survive the apocalypse, like a cockroach.

We don’t talk about smoking much, partly because it mucks up your palate, partly because we both haven’t smoked for years but mainly because it’s not terribly interesting.  What we both have agreed on since day one, both being Marlboro purists, is that vaping is just weird.  Either smoke or don’t smoke – don’t suck on a Bic biro/mini walkie-talkie hybrid filled with strawberry flavoured liquid, it’s just weird.  Anyway, there have been a few deaths recently in the US that have been attributed to vaping but perhaps not enough to create a serious dent in the vape popularity.  However, what will put a dent in their sales is the news that India’s cabinet has announced a ban on the production, import and sale of electronic cigarettes, saying they pose a risk to health.  That’s a complete ban in India; India, with a smoking population of 100 million people that would be an absolute goldmine for the e-smoking industry but clearly the medical experts see clear risks and have acted.  Very interesting indeed – no smoke without fire, as my colleague might say.

Having just about closed off the cricket season and the cycling Grand Tour season also coming to a conclusion for this year (anyone notice that Wayne’s tip, Primož Roglič, only went and won La Vuelta – chapeaux), we can now concentrate wholly on the Rugby World Cup.  We touched on this last week with mention of Japan as an outside bet for the finals however for many people, and by many people I’m meaning the bookmakers primarily, the winners of the World Cup will come from one of New Zealand and South Africa.  Odds on the AB’s are 5/4 whilst odds on the Boks  are 4/1.  For transparency , England also are at 4/1 but I feel that has something to do with punters patriotism.

No-one knows how the rugby will go this weekend, who will win, who will lose but in our own version of Paul the Octopus we’re going to use wine as our tipster and as a consequence will actually be opening 3 wines – don’t tell Wayne.

In white, of course, we’ll have England and an English wine. 

New Hall Vineyards Bacchus Reserve 2018 – £14.49.  The vineyards of New Hall are located just outside of Purleigh and are home to some of the oldest plantings of Bacchus in the UK, certainly the largest (44,500 vines) and they provide grapes to a couple of well-known English Wineries that, frankly, are not very close to Essex.  The wine has a vinous, limey nose that leads you into a fruit focused medium dry palate with a reassuring zing on the finish.

In the absence of any wine from Tonga, I’m going to boldly pronounce this a walkover and move on to the main event, New Zealand v South Africa.

In the interest of fairness I have picked similar wines at a similar price to go head to head from these two countries, so let’s see how they get on.

From South Africa we’ll have Meerlust Red 2014 – £14.49 which hails from Stellenbosch and is a classic Bordeaux style blend of 52% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot.  Aromas of cassis and plums drag you into an immediately appealing, medium-bodied red with crushed black fruit, a touch of vanilla spice and some nicely structured tannins.  We note that this would be a great partner to a rack of lamb and with that in mind, we move to the Kiwi offering.

Alpha Domus ‘The Pilot’ 2014 – £13.99.  Similar in price, from the same vintage as the Meerlust, basically exactly what we were after for a head to head, a typical Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend with nice plummy fruit, a touch of fragrant spice, a lovely mouthfeel and a nice long finish.

Damn, this one is going to go right down to the wire.

That’s about it from us for this week save for a quick tastings update:

Wine School starts in 10 days’ time – 2nd October – 2 spaces left.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 10th October – 6 spaces left.

Domaine Treloar Tasting – 17th October – 3 spaces left.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 7th November – 6 spaces left.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 28th November – 5 spaces left.

So, pop in and assess the wine offerings, sign up for a tasting our two, watch a bit of rugby, enjoy the sunshine, ignore the threat of thunderstorms and generally have a bon weekend!

Mate ne, as they say in the bars of Tokyo!

Sitting on the truth/lie fence

September 13th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As a knock on effect of the Queen’s decision to prorogue, the Friday email will be suspended for the next 5 weeks – there will be no debate on this and Wayne has already left for Europe.

Actually no.  That was a lie.  Or was it?  I’m not really sure what lying is now as the media seem to have a variety of definitions depending on political bent, the Scottish judges another definition, definitely not political, and your man Boris, well he has spent most of his career and personal life on the truth/lie fence.  So I will take the advice Wayne left in his note for me before he left with his one way ticket to Greece and what looked like the contents of the safe – trust nobody, Alex….

Anyway, in a fit of preparedness I am one of the people who has actually read the Yellowhammer document and, greatly enlivened by that experience and in a boxset frame of mind, went on to read about Operation Brock (currently suspended) and am awaiting my clearance to read Operation Redfold. Having read the synopsis and seen the trailer, I do hope we avoid Redfold.  Suffice to say, I am now an expert on base scenarios and remain unsurprised by the warnings that Yellowhammer contained since they are all topics that have been well discussed over time – slow border crossings, the new east Kent lorry park, delays, delays, delays – in truth, things that we are all very accustomed to dealing with!

But we’ve not left yet, the sun is shining and promises to do so over the weekend and the cricket no longer matters.  We ventured up to the Oval on Tuesday for a wine tasting and the pitch looked in tip top condition and frankly would have been amazing as a grand finale but the cricket no longer matters.  If we hadn’t concentrated on the World Cup, if Anderson hadn’t got injured, if Smith had stayed injured, if we’d been able to build unbeatable totals but no, Alex, the cricket no longer matters.

Because what matters now is the Rugby.  Thus time next week the first game (Japan v Russia I believe) of the 2019 World Cup will be coming to a conclusion and the fun will have begun.  Saturday will bring big victories for Fiji, Argentina and, for the first time ever, an incredible 0-0 tie in the last game of the day that sees both teams removed from the tournament…

Looking back, in 2011 we tipped France as potential finalists, in 2015 we thought England would beat Wales so frankly we are not really rugby tipsters.  New Zealand maybe?  There you go, that’s sunk their ship… and left it wide open for the surprise package of 2015 and the hospitable hosts – Japan, 80-1 to reach the final!

Before we get there though we must finish this week first and that always coincides with us opening a couple of bottles of wine.  As a gentlemanly salute to the Aussies, we’ll be opening some of their fine wines today.

In the cricket whites we find Flametree Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 – £16.99, a cracking drop made by our chum Cliff Royle, we’ve not discussed cricket with Cliff, but do know that he makes awesome wines –  this blend of 80% Sauvignon and 20% Semillon has cracking lychee, lime and stone fruit character and a real elegance to it.

And in the red lifeguard shorts Flametree Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2017 – £19.99, the first vintage in 2007 won the Jimmy Watson Trophy, and frankly the winery hasn’t looked back since! This is classically aromatic, showing cassis, violets and blackberry, balanced with notes of freshly dusted cocoa and dark chocolate; fresh in the mouth and, packed with dark fruits, bitter chocolate and subtle spicy French oak characters. Rumour has it there might be some barbecueing at the weekend. Brisket or burgers would be awesome!

Park Vintners Autumn Wine School is surreptitiously creeping up on us. Just about 3 weeks to go and there are a couple of places left if you fancy joining in the fun and improving your wine smarts!

6 Week Wine School – Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person

And with that we’re gone!

Yassas