Iechyd da!

March 1st, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Wow, that was a long month!  Anyone who is used to celebrating their birthday, in normal years, the day after 28th February has been made to wait an extra 24 hours this time round and I know for a fact that amongst those celebrating today are my wife’s daughter, my son’s sister and my niece’s cousin – many happy returns of the day to all of them!

So, as it’s now March 1st, St David’s Day, it’s the the day we always celebrate how very Welsh we are.  Wyn has got a daffodil salad for lunch, whilst Alecs is sporting a rather splendid leek in his buttonhole – both are looking forward to bakestones at teatime with a pint of Brains later on but don’t want to be drawn into talking about the rugby or the value of spoons made of wood…

However, by Saturday, it’ll all be over and we’ll be English again, gazing at the drizzle, contemplating mid-table mediocrity and saddling up our horse to slay a dragon….

… and reading the wine news.

One of you, who shall not be named for reasons that will soon become apparent, directed us towards the following story.  A new wine has been released, called Simp Wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, made in Walthamstow, apparently using grapes from Spain and Lebanon rather than Wanstead and Tottenham.  Anyway, at this point things become a bit more interesting and frankly we ended up going down a bit of a wormhole, thanks Matt.  With a nod to a traditional method of grape crushing, the grapes for this wine are crushed by feet but not just any feet.  The feet involved belong to a lady called Emilie Rae, who is, according to Matt Wikipedia, a foot fetish influencer and Only Fans content creator, whatever that means.  However, by all accounts, people pay £40/minute to look at her hooves, which means that she is a very successful businesswoman, with 320,000 followers all clamouring to buy her wine proving that she certainly knows how to monetise her ‘brand’.

The wine is limited release (no confirmation of how many units) and is retailing at £100 per bottle, which is a clear bargain for a wine made by Tony Mortimer and Brian Harvey, particularly when you take into consideration that a bottle of Grand Puy Lacoste 2006 from us costs £98!

As a footnote (!) to this whole tale, on the wine website they claim that all the grapes were crushed by Emilie and to support this they show a video of her feet in a bucket of…. white grapes!!

Moving away from the Weird World Web, our next piece of news comes from GQ, because we like to look sharp and live smart, as you can tell.  The article we were reading was reminding us of the nine shared factors that the longest lived people on earth seem to share, even though they may live in Sardinia, Japan, Costa Rica, California or Greece.  The list, on www.bluezones.com, doesn’t necessarily seem hugely surprising – exercise, eat better, manage stress etc or as Dan Buettner puts it:

  • Move Naturally
  • Purpose
  • Downshift
  • 80% Rule
  • Plant Slant
  • Belong
  • Loved Ones First
  • Right Tribe

And most significantly

  • Wine @ 5 – People in all blue zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly.  Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers.  The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food.  And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

Have to say, we wholeheartedly concur.

Sport offers us little this week:

“Everything I have built in my professional career has been taken away from me” – thus spake Paul Pogba, after he was banned from football for 4 years for having elevated levels of testosterone in his system, both in an initial test and the follow up B test.  It’s so  refreshing to see the gazillionaire footballer taking full responsibility for everything.

As it’s not far from 5pm, we should probably prepare some wines for tasting over the weekend.

For the white we’ll be visiting Italy again and opening an old favourite: Cantine Colomba Bianca Vitese Grillo 2022 – £13.99.  Grillo is a crossing of Catarratto and Zibibbo and has lovely lifted citrus and tropical fruit character, a touch of minerality, great mouthfeel and a zesty finish.  Established in 1970, Colomba Bianca are dynamic, very quality focused and also just happen to be the biggest Italian producer of organic wine – so a winner all round then: a diverse, gut friendly organic wine that’s perhaps great for your plant slant!

Obviously the red has to be a Cannonau and San Costantino Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 2022 – £19.99 seems the perfect fit.  Cannonau is the most important red wine grape native to Sardinia, and possibly the oldest variety in the Mediterranean being the origin of Grenache or Garnacha.  The 15 hectare vineyard is located on a gentle slope between Alghero and Sassari and is run by Giampaolo Parpinello and his son Paolo.  It has a deep red colour, medium bodied on the palate with mature red fruits, a touch of white pepper spice and a nice elegance to the finish with some gentle dryness of tannin framing those red fruits really rather nicely.

And with that, we’re on our toes, as Emilie might say!

Use Them or Lose Them!

February 23rd, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As mentioned last week, we’ll be closing at 5pm today as we have our annual excursion to do the drinks at the KCS quiz night. Again, our apologies for any inconvenience.

This week saw another chapter in the Post Office Horizon saga. A spat between Harry Staunton, the former chairman of the Post Office and Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary over the payment, or delay, of compensation. Both sides deny the other’s story with Ms Badenoch doing so in Parliament whilst Mr Staunton chose The Times.

Coincidentally, Ms. Badenoch said trade talks with Canada over cheese and motor vehicle tariffs were ongoing. In an unusual turn of events, Ottawa’s High Commissioner to the UK said the talks have not happened. Perhaps Ms. Badenoch pursues a rather Johnsonian approach to the truth?

We also saw Parliament descend into chaos when the Speaker broke with convention during a debate into a ceasefire in Gaza. He was accused of playing ‘party politics’ when he allowed a vote on a Labour amendment when it was the SNP’s turn. Now around 50 MP’s have called for his resignation. You’d think a ceasefire was more important than whose turn it was to do the wording, but there you have it.

This week, we’ve read some alarming news on the drinks and hospitality front. The drinks trade warned the government that the biggest hike in duty in fifty years was likely to have a dampening effect on sales which would harm both the trade and also the tax receipts. This week HMRC statistics revealed that between September 2023 and January 2024 revenue from wine, spirits, beer and cider fell by £600 million compared with the same dates a year earlier. Wine and Spirits Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said “Not only has this hurt British businesses, it has fuelled inflation and significantly reduced excise duty receipts to the Exchequer.”  

We also read a survey by UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and Hospitality Ulster revealing the cost pressures facing venues compared to 2023. Nearly all venues (98%) have seen food and drink cost inflation and are concerned about the increase in National Living Wage in April. Of those surveyed, 25% no longer have any cash reserves at all and a further 29% have only enough for 3 months. What caught our eye though was the staggering 64% of venues that are not optimistic about their business’s prospects for the next 12 months. The trade bodies issued a joint statement: “These results clearly show the perilous state our pubs, restaurants, hotels and cafes find themselves in. The fact that a quarter have run out of cash reserves completely is a real cause for concern. Those businesses are extremely vulnerable to the slightest shock forcing them to shut their doors for good.”

Use them or lose them folks, use them or lose them!

The Six Nations is back this weekend, with Wales partaking of Irish hospitality and England travelling to Murrayfield on Saturday, whilst Italy will be taking a tour of Paris before their game on Sunday. In proper sports, this weekend sees the real racing season start with cobbled climbs at Omloop het Nieuwsblaad on Saturday. It seems Wout van Aert and Lotte Kopecky are the favourites in the Men’s and Women’s races respectively but there’s a chance that their days may be spoiled by Arnaud de Lie and Demi Vollering. Kuurne Brussels Kuurne is on Sunday with a more sprinter friendly parcours – it’s going to be a fun weekend!

Well, somewhere in all this excitement we should be able to find time for a glass of wine.

Sporting the white jersey will be Deep Roots Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany (£13.99). A group of young vine growers all got together with the idea of sharing their marketing costs but in the end decided to make just the one wine to showcase their talents.  Almost a mini co-operative, if you will.  Winemaking duties are spearheaded by the talented Stefan Winter, and this is a cracker.  Citrus and orchard fruit notes on the nose, minerals join them on the palate and we reckon this is a cracking partner to a Thai curry!

We shall visit the Rhône valley for the red jersey, pulling the cork on Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux’, Rhône, France (£13.99). Common practice in the Côtes du Rhône is to bottle the best cuvées as a single named Village wine and the rest as basic Rhône Villages.  The philosophy here, on the other hand, is to start with the intention of making the very best Côtes du Rhône Villages possible.  They source wine from the vineyards of named villages and enrich them with a small proportion of barrel-aged wine from Sablet, Séguret and Cairanne.  The results are fabulous, as you can taste here, with well-balanced brambly fruit and soft tannin that is bang on the money.

New Wine and The Same Old Whines

February 16th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Before I bore you with some unfunny ramblings on the state of things, a few points of admin relating to the coming week.

  • Monday 19th February – we will open late, ideally by 3pm, as we need to go to a trade tasting in town
  • Tuesday 20th February – same as Monday, different day, different tasting but same rules – we will open late, ideally by 3pm
  • Friday 23rd February – different rules, today we will be closing early.  It’s our annual trip up the hill to help out at the KCS quiz night, so in order to get this all set up, we will be closing at 5PM.

I imagine the Friday closing will have more significance to most of you and we can only offer our apologies in advance – sorry.

Anyway, back to the here and now, we are open.  Frankly, though, there have been points this week when we had to check that we had unlocked the door because it has been suspiciously quiet.  Valentine’s Day was the most muted we’ve seen in 10 years and we didn’t have a single person asking us for our recommendation for pancake friendly wine on Tuesday (Champagne or Cider, if you’re interested).  This means we’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, ordering a decent amount of wine and even, at one point, contemplated giving something up for Lent, just to keep us occupied for 40 days.

Outside of Arthur Road, the world doesn’t seem to be much happier than it was last week.  We still have crisis in the Middle East, Russia is still trying to crush Ukraine, we’re in recession, the Labour party is making all the wrong headlines and, in America, people decide to take their guns to the Super Bowl victory parade, resulting in the death and injury of innocent people.

So, as has so often happened over the last few years, we’ll try to find our good news in the world of wine.  Not a lot to see here either, I can only assume everyone is on the slopes in La Thuile.  I did mention earlier that we’ve been buying wines this week and in fact have 7 new listings:

From France, we have changed our Picpoul de Pinet back to Chateau de La Mirande 2022 – £14.99, one of the stalwarts of the region, this is made from 100 year old vines and is crisp, dry with a lovely citrus and stonefruit character.

From Italy, we have two new whites.  A little while back, one of our travelling connoisseur customers was raving about a Lugana that he had tasted at a fancy dinner somewhere fancy.  This jogged our memory and reminded us that we also rather liked this wine but hadn’t seen it for a while.  Long story short, we found Cà dei Frati 2022 – £26.49 and put it on the shelf.  Aged on lees for half a year in stainless steel, this has a lovely elegant palate with hints of apricot, touches of minerality and a nice long finish – thanks for the steer, Francis!  We also found a very tasty Soave, completely by accident, Montresor Gran Guardia Classico 2022 – £12.79 which is fresh and light with hints of honeysuckle and a creamy nuttiness on the finish.

From South Africa, a proper crowd pleaser – Primordial Soup – £8.99.  Made predominantly with Chenin Blanc and Colombard and at only 11%, this was an immediate wine win for us.  An immediately attractive nose of fresh citrus and stone fruit with lightly floral notes lead onto a palate that is crisp and vibrant with ripe, fleshy, gently tropical fruit characters and a clean tangy finish.

Spain gave us a new ‘posh’ Albariño.  Granbazán Etiqueta Ambar 2022 – £25.79 has fresh, almost tropical aromas then stone fruit and citrus on the palate with a creamy texture, mineral notes, vibrant acidity and classic saline characters.  Quite ripe and complex in style with fresh balancing acidity and a classic saline character.

The USA gave us another crowd pleaser – Showdown Man with the Ax Cabernet Sauvignon 2022 – £12.99 which comes from California and rather stopped us in our tracks (we liked the label…. I know, even we fall for it!).  Ripe cherry and cassis fruit, with a soft, juicy, yet long finish, this would be fab with almost any red meat, especially served rare – it is from America after all!

Finally, not exactly a new listing but a wine that we have been storing to get a bit of age on it –  Famille Brunier Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 – £70.  In August 2018, Jeb Dunnuck (JebDunnuck.com) gave it 97 points and wrote:  “…the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape offers a classic, gorgeous bouquet of black raspberries, currants, violets, salty minerality, nori (seaweed wrapper) and licorice.  Full-bodied, pure, incredibly elegant, with fine tannin, and a huge finish, this is classic Vieux Télégraphe all the way that has the balance to drink now.  Drink 2023-2043.”

So that’s our wine news, I think we’ll open the Montresor Gran Guardia Classico 2022 – £12.79 and the Showdown Man with the Ax Cabernet Sauvignon 2022 – £12.99 this weekend so you can let us know what you think!

No Six Nations tomorrow and I think Wayne is focusing on his own cycling rather than that of the professionals.  However, I did read that Twickenham Stadium has introduced alcohol-free areas for the two home Guinness Men’s Six Nations fixtures on a trial basis, based on supporters’ feedback.  This is no doubt great news for any of the gentleman choosing to wear brand new white Quba & Co sailing jackets to HQ and who then get a little bit tied up in knots when they stand up suddenly and spill your pint of Guinness on themselves!  Now, when they purchase their tickets, they can choose to be within an alcohol-free zone and thus avoid the risk of a beer wash and only run the risk of a J2O shower…

Not that any gentleman would ever buy a white Quba jacket….

That’s it from us, a reminder from the top of the email, late opening on Monday and Tuesday, early close on Friday, make a diary note!

Sorted.

Another impressive week in Politics….

February 9th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We thought we should start off this week by correcting some of the mistakes we’ve made in recent news letters. But let’s face it – nobody has that much time on a Friday. So, I’ll just ‘fess up to the fake news that that Lewis Hamilton is leaving Mercedes not McLaren as some of you read last week. Mercedes, McLaren, mistake and momentary madness all start with an ‘m’, as does muppetry.

This week Dishy Rishi has made impressive efforts to demonstrate the excellent judgement and political nous that makes him the perfect person to lead the country. This week’s achievements include blocking a pay deal with Junior Doctors whilst simultaneously blaming them for increased waiting lists at the NHS, having a tone deaf £1000 bet with Piers Morgan over the Rwanda policy and then capping it off with a cruel jibe at the expense of transgender people whilst Brianna Ghey’s mother was in parliament.  Despite cries of ‘shame’ from all sides of the house he refused to apologise and is, a day later, refusing to apologise and blaming Kier Starmer for his problems.

Talking of Kier Starmer, after weeks of ‘will he, won’t he?’ the Labour leader has announced the party will be scaling back its £28 billion green prosperity plan by almost half. The main victim appears to be the home insulation plan, deemed expensive, despite everyone agreeing it to be a very effective and simple solution. I’m sure all the storms and flooding have created no extra cost and we’ll have to set nothing aside for future problems. Would it be nice if there were some politicians out here who’d engage in a grown up conversation with the electorate?

Over in Paris, the farmers are yet to starve the population that this correspondent thought lived mostly on coffee and cigarettes. We also learn that medals for this summer’s Olympics will contain iron from the Eiffel Tower. Before we all get over excited about the structural integrity of the iconic landmark let me reassure you that the metal was removed at its last refurbishment and stored in a secret warehouse for exactly this sort of thing. A nice touch we thought.

Kamila Vilieva, the Russian figure skater banned for four years in January blamed her positive doping test on her grandfather’s strawberry dessert. Apparently he had crushed his trimetazidine on the same chopping board he used to slice the strawberries.  The Court for Arbitration in sport found this explanation was “not ­corroborated by any concrete evidence”. Strawberries marching up that superfood list!

Our man on the ground in Rome last week tells me the atmosphere was absolutely electric and the entire place was on their feet for the last Italian try. A word of caution though, the van outside the stadium that tempts you to get a beer for the walk back into town might be as expensive as the Ritz! For this week’s fixtures England host the Welsh at Twickers for Saturday’s late game. France will have visited Scotland in the earlier game and Italy will be in Dublin for some after show Guinness on Sunday.

As we move onto proper sports, the cycle road racing is edging closer, Tour of Columbia is underway, Mark Cavendish was third on stage one with Ferdinand Gaviria taking the stage and Davide Persico second. Oscar Sevilla, who raced in the Giro d’Italia that Marco Pantani won in 1998, is racing his 26th season at the age of 47 and was third on stage two! Omloop het Nieuwsblaad is traditionally the first World Tour race on European soil and is just 15 days away.

Tasting this Weekend

We thought we’d pay a visit to the Chablis region of France and our chums at Domaine Fournillon. This is a 23 hectare family run domaine situated in the small village of Bernouil, close to Chablis. They currently only bottle 10% of the production but are expanding to meet demand. The soil in the vineyard has a high sand content alongside the Kimmeridgian limestone and has managed to resist phylloxera and avoid the need for grafted rootstocks.

White wise we’ll naturally plump for the Chablis 2019 (£19.99) an absolute classic style with green apple and mineral notes, a lovely finish too.

Red we will open their Bourgogne Epineuil 2020 (£18.50). Epineuil is the name of a hill just opposite the Premier Cru vineyards of Tonnerre. It shares the same soil mixtures and where it was once well known for Pinot Noir rosé, the climate changes have meant that it has become a decent source of Pinot Noir more suitable for red wines as you can see with this example.

So, half term starts today, Lent starts next week and Valentine’s Day rolls in on Wednesday – you have been warned….

Bye for now!

Six Nations, Ferrari, Nerello Mascalese and Cyclocross

February 2nd, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well what did we learn this week? Well, we learnt that Corporation Tax will not increase in the event of a Labour Government at the next election. We also learnt that Jeremy Hunt won’t be giving out big tax cuts at the spring budget. Not what he told us last week, but I think the IMF might have had a quiet word.

We also learnt that the Environment Agency hasn’t been checking sewage permits ‘as frequently as it should.’ We learnt that an Exmouth swimmer is taking legal action against South West Water for ‘loss of amenity’ after she was unable to swim in the sea due to all the sewage spills. We also learnt that Wednesday’s global sea surface temperature of 21.1˚C equalled the all-time record set in August 2023 which means, rather scarily, we’re headed into uncharted waters!

We learnt that there are an almost infinite number of excuses from politicians of all badges on why they deleted their WhatsApp messages. Everyone that stands up in front of the covid enquiry seems to have a different reason, it’s almost like they all have something to hide. We also learnt that Ed Davey is sorry that he sorry he ‘did not see through the Post Office’s lies.’ On the plus side, everyone knows who he is now!

After the best part of two years of ‘working from home’ it would appear that the members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are likely to be heading back to the office after a deal was finally hashed out with the DUP. Let’s hope so, the DUP have caused enough distrust and disillusionment to last a generation. It’ll likely be a bumpy road ahead.

Shocker of the week for me was Mercedes losing Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari for next year. Obviously it is to drive one of their Formula 1 cars rather than join in their new found passion for world sailing competitions. Given his frustration at this season’s performance with Mercedes, I’m not sure he’ll necessarily get a more competitive vehicle at Ferrari; it’s at least 15 years since they won a championship. Time will tell I guess.

Whilst on the subject of wheeled sports, the UCI World Championship Cyclocross is this weekend in Tabor, Czechia. Men’s Elite defending champion Tom Pidcock is not defending his title, so difficult to see past Matthieu van der Poel given his 11 wins from 12 starts this season, but do keep an eye out for Cameron Mason in the GB jersey and Eli Iserbyt from Belgium. Women’s Elite I’m struggling to see past Fem van Empel to be honest, but have high hopes that Zoe Backstedt will improve on her 2nd place last year in the U23. I haven’t seen any racing in the men’s U23 so am completely in the dark there.

Six Nations Rugby starts this week, England travel to Italy for the early game on Saturday (14.15). Marcus Smith is sitting on the sofa following an injury and England have a few new faces in the squad which should make for an interesting watch. We have a man on the ground in Rome taking notes so we should be able to provide a more succinct summary in the not too distant. It’s going to be warm in Rome so don’t forget your sunblock!

The tournament actually kicks off on Friday evening with France hosting Ireland, whilst Wales will host Scotland for the late game Saturday.

We’ll go with a six nations influence on the tasting wines this week visiting France and Italy.

For the white lovers we’ll open Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2022 – £11.49.  This Languedoc estate belonging to the Fayet family based in the village of Moussan close to Narbonne.  The property has a small brook running around the outskirts which provides natural irrigation to give much needed water.  This gives the wines their freshness and appeal; keeping the vines cool in a very hot climate.  A flirty Viognier: shimmering hay and peaches with a lush viscous texture give way to a sensual palate of roses, pineapples and mangoes.  Delicious with Thai or fusion food, or some big, juicy langoustines.

The red hails from Sicily and is Cantine Paolini Nerello Mascalese 2021 (£11.89). One of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, unsurprisingly grown on volcanic soils, it has an easy going personality with red cherry fruits, a touch of spice and a nice fresh finish with fine tannins. I think I’d consider Tandoori Chicken with this, but also perhaps a rich fish stew!

Tail End of January

January 26th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

That I’m typing this suggests that we have successfully reached another Friday, and that most of the 4000 days of January are now behind us.  So, group hug, that’s quite an achievement.

We thought we’d start this week with the tale of Betty Brussel. Betty was born in Holland in 1924 and moved to Canada in 1959. Having learnt to swim as a child in the canals near Amsterdam, in her mid-60’s she took up competitive swimming when she decided to race in the British Columbia Senior Games. Last Saturday, she took more than 4 minutes off of the World Record 400 metres freestyle in the 100-104 year old age group. Not content to sit on her laurels, competing in five events in total, she also set new records for the 50 metres backstroke and 50 metres breaststroke. An impressive lady I’m sure you’ll agree.

Talking of impressive, Simon Clarke MP, who was in charge of Levelling up in Lettuce Liz’s government, has written an article suggesting that the Tory party is facing extinction at the next election. Apparently, Rishi Sunak is not the person to lead them into the next election and it is time for a new leader. Are we all dead keen to witness some more Tory energy focussed on choosing yet another new leader? They do, after all, seem to have an almost endless pool of top talent available.

Sadly for us, the MP’s themselves seem to think there are more important things to be getting on with. Apparently, war in the Middle East, war in Eastern Europe and interfering with Channel shipping really is more important.  Indeed Mr Clarke has been described somewhat disparagingly by his colleagues as:  “getting silly”,dangerous, reckless, selfish” and “throwing his teddies in the corner”. We’re guessing that’s a NO then Simon!

Across the pond, US democracy seems determined to continue to eat itself. Donald Trump has managed to find time between his court appearances to attend a couple of Republican Primary Nominations. He won both; Ron DeSantis withdrew from the race leaving just Nikki Haley in the way of him and the Republican nomination. I do sometimes wonder what on earth everyone is thinking!

Elsewhere in the world, after some off-piste commentary on Darts and Snooker we seem to be moving over to more familiar sports again. That said, I’m not entirely sure the first test in India has got off to the start England were hoping for. On the plus side, Six Nations Rugby starts next week and if you fancy a behind the scenes warm up I think the docuseries has just popped up on Netflix.

In wine news, hot on the coat tails of price rise reports comes news that Champagne shipments fell last year. It would appear the Champenois haven’t linked cause and correlation yet and are keen to push on with further price rises as mentioned in a previous message.

The Pope has declared that wine is “a gift from God” and “a true source of joy” for its consumers. A sentiment we can certainly get on board with, as have many Italian wine producers.

Because we’ve been around the block a few times and generally pay our bills in a timely fashion, we do occasionally get offered interesting things. We have today been offered such a thing by the agent for Chateau d’Esclans. There is a limited edition case available of two bottles each of their three estate wines for 2022. These are generally regarded as the crème de la crème of Provence rosé and I know one or two of you have ordered these wines from us in the past, so I thought we would put it out there. I have attached full details, there are only 180 cases are available in the UK and they are priced at £529.99 for the six pack. If you would you like one do come straight back to me and I’ll order it for you. 

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start off in the white corner with a bottle of Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2021 (£17.99). The estate is still family owned and into the fifth generation. Back in 1912 Ernest Wente imported a selection of different Chardonnay cuttings from a vine nursery in Montpellier. He then selected those that showed the healthiest character and best flavours, before grafting the best two together. Ultimately he created what is known as the ‘Wente Clone’. These days around 75% of the Chardonnay plantings in California are of the Wente Clone.

The red corner belongs to Australia this week. Seppeltsfield Barossa Grenache 2022 (£25.99) will be raising its screwcap in a salute to today’s Australia Day. Seppeltsfield are regarded as true pioneers of the Australian wine industry, the estate was founded in 1851 by Joseph Seppelt. In 1888 they installed one of the world’s first gravity fed cellars which, following restoration is back in use today.

Both of these wines are delicious so do come and have a taste with us.

With that we’re done.       

Burn’s Night and Losing Parks

January 19th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Greetings from the coal-face, or perhaps that should be cold face.

According to www.timeanddate.com mid-afternoon yesterday, when the sun was out and the sky was as cobalt as a blue poison dart frog, the temperature in London was 3° Celsius.  We were 33rd in the 50 ‘European’ capitals charted – Valletta, Gibraltar, Athens, Monaco, Tirana were all about 20° Celsius whilst Riga, Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm and Moscow were all between -5° and -10°.  No real surprises in any of this, just good to know we could be colder… or warmer.

Darwin, at the same time (about 2am for them) was 29°.

Meanwhile, in Kigali they were having thunderstorms whilst experiencing temperatures similar to Monaco, which was enjoying sunshine – peas in a pod really.  Speaking of Rwanda, Rishi’s bill seems to have avoided a revolt, for now, however its next stop at the Lords might not be so easy. Of course, skirting human rights law should not be as easy as imprisoning postmasters,  however if the worst comes to the worst, Paul Kagame has said he could return the £240 million they have received, which could be used to extend the Fujitsu contract for a few more years…

We didn’t save Wimbledon Park Golf Club but we still have a hope that the AELTC plans for the park won’t succeed.  This starts to feel like there is a real risk of a dangerous precedent developing when we read https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/09/locals-hit-back-at-spurs-football-plans-for-green-biodiverse-space-tottenham-enfield-london and then, further up north https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-12970233/Manchester-United-turn-attention-golf-courses-potential-sites-new-training-ground-Red-Devils-holding-preliminary-talks-one-club-possible-move.html.  Can we really continue to build on green space to satisfy wealthy sports businesses?  Discuss.

Meanwhile, back in our igloo, Wayne has been out hunting and gathering neeps, tatties and haggis this week, in advance of Burns Night next Thursday, 25th January.  As ever, an opportunity to eat offal and drink whisky is hard to pass by and this year we’re recommending:

Mary Queen of Scots 12 year old Blended Malt – £40.00 

Blended by Ian Macleod Distillers in Broxburn, near Edinburgh this comprises a minimum of 12 Premier Single Malts, all 12 years old, to reflect the 12 years in total which Mary Queen of Scots spent in Scotland. Premier Malts use only the best Scots barley in the distilling process to achieve the traditional unique flavour which is the pride of Scotland and beyond.

Royal Mile Whiskies described it thus:

Nose – Caramelised white fruits topping American style pancakes.  Caramel sauce and a malty hint come through as well.

Palate – Toffee notes and more white fruit lead the palate before a slightly prickly dryness introduces a malt barley body.

Finish – A slight sugary sweet hint comes and goes as the malty flavour combines with just a whisper of smokiness.

Whilst Archie, at Luvians in St Andrews had, for me, the best note:

A total breakfast whisky – Golden syrup drizzled over old school drop scones, Frosties with full cream milk and wee glass of Ovaltine on the side.

Boom.

Of course, we have other drams to offer, for example:

SPEYSIDE     

Benromach 10 year old – £45.00

Benromach 15 year old – £70.00

Longmorn 2005 – £70.00

HIGHLAND  

Dalmore 15 year old – £98.00

The Glenturret 12 year old – £70.00

Tomatin 12 year old – £44.00

Tomatin 12 year old Amarone Edition – £73.00

ISLAY

Bunnahabhain 10 year old (Peated) – £58.00

Bunnahabhain 11 year old (Sherried) – £58.00

Caol Ila 13 year old – £58.00

Finlaggan Old Reserve – £36.00

OTHERS        

Canmore Original Single Malt Whisky – £40.00

London Square 12 year old – £40.00

Mary Queen of Scots 12 year old Blended – £40.00

However, if you’d rather enjoy a fancy bottle of plonk with your pluck, we might suggest trying the wines we have on tasting this weekend.

Cave de Hunawihr Reserve Pinot Gris 2021 – £18.99 – Grapes for this wine are from 30 year old vines, grown on the south-facing slopes, at around 280m above sea level.  The wine is quite full-bodied with enticing peach and pear aromas.  The palate is packed with stone fruits as the nose suggested, a touch of spice and a lovely viscosity before the long, fresh, fruit-driven finish.  On the back label, it describes itself as medium dry, full-bodied and smoky – how can one resist?!

Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine 2020 – £21.49

So, this is from Lirac which is across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a more famous region with which it shares many winning attributes.  The grapes in this wine are a hand harvested blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre which gives us the powerful and well-built wine we’d expect.  A complex nose of vanilla, fruits and dark cherries, the mouth is rich and firm with again those dark cherries and long lasting notes of vanilla and pepper whilst the finish is smooth and rich with a very good length – should be perfect on 25th January!

That, I think is that from us.  Not sure if we’ve mentioned it before and apologies if we are repeating ourselves – this month we offer a January Sale/VAT bill fundraiser whereby if you purchase 6 bottles we’ll give you a discount of 16.66%!  That’s 6 for 5 in old money and covers most of the wines in the shop with the exception of some of the top-shelfers that make little margin!  We can tell you more when you turn up with your empty car boot….

Right, I’m off to defrost my typing fingers!

The good old BUY SIX, PAY FOR FIVE mechanic

January 12th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re not even half way through January but 2024 is already starting to feel a little bit meh.

Why we thought a change of year would suddenly make a huge difference to the status quo I don’t know but hope we did.  However upon reading this ‘tweet’ by the Member of Parliament for Witham:

I was pleased to pay tribute to the brave sub-postmasters whose fight for justice has captured the nation. Since I was elected in 2010 I have fought their cause in Parliament because for me this is personal. Post Office and Fujitsu must be held to account.

We realised that it was business as usual in Westminster – tell a big fib in order to enhance your reputation whilst arrogantly expecting everyone to accept it as fact – and Hansard soon proved this.

Meanwhile, Rev Paula has handed back her CBE when she should really be handing back her bonuses and Fujitsu shares seem to be bouncing back from last week’s drop…

But it’s not all bad news – we could all be working for Brewdog who have generously dropped out of the Living Wage Foundation but have pledged to pay their ‘crew’ the legal minimum wage, which is clearly a good way to improve staff retention.

Knowing how much you have missed his sports reporting, Wayne is keen for you all to know that there has been plenty of Cyclocross to watch over the holidays, so if you are a fan of grown-ups cycling around extremely muddy fields, this is for you.  He also wants you to know that he fully supports the selection of Andy Farrell as head coach for the Lions tour Down Under in 2025 but is at a loss to predict who will be the fly half in the starting line-up.

Very little news in the world of wine save that prices seem set to rise again.  As Bollinger informed us a week or so back, their increases are due to the price of grapes rising by as much as 10% combined with increasing costs of labour, energy, and packaging materials, from paper to foils and cases, as well as, most importantly, glass, which is up 40%. 

Happy, happy days.

With this in mind, why not future- proof your wine drinking a little by dipping into our annual January ‘sale’ – the good old BUY SIX, PAY FOR FIVE mechanic. 

It’s as simple as it sounds – choose 6 bottles and we promise to give you a 16.6666% discount off this purchase, which we think is a pretty decent offering?  There are a few exceptions to this offer – spirits, top shelf Champagnes and wines that we only get a small allocation of but, apart from these, there are still plenty of bottles for the discerning shopper to choose from. 

Some of you have already taken full advantage of this deal and will likely return for round two but many of you are yet to dip you toes into this wine lake.  We suggest you don’t tarry too long, we’ve got lots of empty cardboard boxes waiting to be filled and we have more stock now than we’d like to have on the 1st February when we return to the standard 5% off 6/10% off 12 discount so, in this instance, it’s worth being an early adopter….

Sales pitch done, what shall we open this weekend?  I reckon a couple of Spanish speakers from our £100 Case Club might fit the bill nicely:

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2021 – £18.49

Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza – one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Argentina.  Its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes.  This Chardonnay has citrus and tropical fruit notes, gently underlined with vanilla from the oak, which is delicately balanced with both fruit and freshness.

Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel Lecco Crianza 2019 – £21.99

It took us a while, and involved kissing a lot of frogs but finally we found a suitable replacement for the Emilio Moro.  This is 100% Tempranillo from 30 year old vines aged for 14 months in a mix of 70% French and 30% American oak.  A complex and rich wine with a medium body, dark red fruit character, a touch of coffee and touches of spice into the long, lingering finish.  Slow roast lamb anyone?

So, shake off that early January ennui and take a walk to your local wine shop – a spot of exercise rewarded by a nice box of wine, perfect and we can raise a glass to JPR and Franz, two sporting giants who pulled the cork this week…

Cheers!

Happy New Year and a January Sale

January 5th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to 2024, we’ve had a word with the powers that be and had it extended by a day just because it’s going to be so much fun. It does mean some things will have changed though. Those of you with a birthday after February will have to wait a day longer to blow out the candles, those of you born on 29th February actually get to have a birthday this year and those of you with birthdays in January can proceed as normal.

In other news, we can’t help but wonder at different parenting styles. So many parents spend their weekends touring cold wet touchlines around the Home Counties watching junior play rugby, football, cricket or hockey.  Sometimes it’s a combination of those sports or, indeed, others. Special waterproof coats with zip in liners are purchased for when it’s really cold, and certainly too many petrol station sandwiches are consumed. Luke Littler’s parents just took him to the pub didn’t they? Who thought a young lad could generate so much excitement around darts eh? Quite the achievement, especially eliminating your hero on the way!

We will be offering our usual January Sale terms of six bottles for the price of five. That’s the equivalent of a whopping 16.6% discount. As usual, if we’ve had to beg for an allocation of something it’s excluded from the sale. Otherwise, do feel free to come and empty the shelves.

If you’ve sworn off for the month we do have the rather tasty Belle & Co Alcohol Free Sparkling (£5.99) – Made from grape juice and infused with green tea, it offers a lovely hint of white flower aromas and is zingy and fresh on the palate thanks to its well-balanced acidity. Belle & Co has no alcohol, low sugar, no gluten and around half the calories of the average fizz – what’s not to like? It is also Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.

With apologies for our brevity this week, we’ll wish you health, prosperity and laughter.

Wave on your way to the gym and a Happy New Year!

We’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2024!

December 29th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re back, are you?  We’re fuelled with turkey, mince pies and a selection of strange liqueurs from the back of the cocktail cabinet. We’ve drunk some lovely wine, a pint in a village pub and even several cups of coffee.

To round up briefly on the year, we opened our commentary in January talking about Nadhim Zahawi’s brass neck.  We wonder what happened to him.

February saw us witness a Cabinet reshuffle, Scotland beat England at Twickenham and Steak and Peppercorn Sauce was the most popular meal for Valentine’s Day.

March floated in on a tide of Government ministers trying to get Gary Lineker sacked, Alex was full of alarming facts about dictators following his podcast discoveries and Tom Pidcock became the first Brit to win Le Strade Bianchi.

April brought us the London Marathon, a new album from Everything But The Girl and a resignation from Dominic Raab who said he’d give us a slap if we said he was a bully, so we’re definitely not suggesting that at all.

If it’s May already then Wayne is cycling in Mallorca, Penny Mordaunt is starring as Lady of the Lake at the King’s Coronation and Rishi Sunak is delivering on his promise to lose 1,000 councillors at the local elections.

June arrived with suitcases of Saudi cash for golfers, World Gin Day and Nadine Dorries promising to resign after failing to receive an ermine gown, a promise finally delivered in August.

July found a group of cyclists and buses meandering around France, some Ashes cricket matches and Wayne arriving late for a meeting due to over confidence in the Northern Line. Mad Nads was still Ermine hunting by sending WhatsApp’s to ministers trying to get on Lettuce Liz’s honours List.

August found the roads of SW London empty, Nadine finally threw in the towel and Rishi rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic. Although, he preferred to name it a ‘mini’ shuffle.

September found Wayne eating Pistachio ice cream, Michael O’Leary received a cream pie to the face whilst speaking in Brussels and coastguards arrested a man for trying to cross the Atlantic in a human sized hamster wheel.

October saw Donald Trump fall off of the Forbes Rich List, Bernie Ecclestone pay £625 million to the HMRC and the Rolling Stones collaborating with Lady Gaga.

November arrived with an almost indecent haste with Nigel Farage in the jungle, a sad farewell to Oddbins and another rearrangement of deckchairs on the Cabinet cruise ship. Rishi still likes to call it a reshuffle. Not to be out done, Kier Starmer managed to do a bit of rearranging the Shadows too.

Here we are at the tail end of December and we find ourselves wanting to thank you all for reading this far, thank you for shopping with us and bringing your cheer, stories and anecdotes to our door. We’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2024!

We’re here till 6pm today, noon till 6pm tomorrow and Noon till 5pm on Sunday. We shall then return on Friday 5th January from Noon till 7pm so that you can all wave to us on the way to Bounce.

Let’s be careful out there folks and don’t accept any drinks from James Cleverly, he sounds like a wrong’un.