Volvo Hiccups, Chardonnay and ‘Where’s the Southern Comfort?’

April 9th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What a week we’ve had. Sunshine, snow and rain have all featured, neither of us knows what to wear, should we open the door, put a sweater on, open a window and that’s before we’ve even considered what we should wear to the pub garden!

How strange is it going to be having a chat with a mate in real life without a zoom backdrop of the British Library and constantly cutting off one another’s words?

The Volvo had a hiccup but has a brand new shiny suspension bit and is making much less noise now. Back on the road again!

In a brief roundup of other stuff, Myanmar’s coup d’etat reached the streets of London this week when the Ambassador, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was locked out of the embassy.

In Italy, the government has finally done the right thing by Venice and issued a decree that the 700 ginormous cruise ships will no longer be able to enter the lagoon the way they have. They will now follow the canal like commercial ships and disembark their passengers at the far end of the lagoon. An important step in the preservation of Venice we think, let’s hope it holds!

There has been nightly petrol-bombing all week in Northern Ireland in sectarian violence of the like we’ve not seen in years. Why it’s taken 5 days to get to the newspapers we’ve no idea, but frankly it needs to stop, so if matron could drag some politicians by their ears and get them around the table to start talking, it might not be a bad idea.

In real sports, Mark Cavendish found himself on the podium again on Wednesday taking 3rd place at the Schelderprijs. Paris-Roubaix scheduled for the weekend is now postponed.

Saturday sees the Grand National at 5.15pm. The favourite seems to be Cloth Cap but will Tom Scudamore whippet across the line in front of Minella Times? Given that’s the mount of Rachel Blackmore who hogged the winners step at Cheltenham this year we’re not so sure. Wayne suggests a small each way on Discorama but his reasoning seems to be that it sounds like an ‘80’s nightclub plus he had a shocker at Cheltenham so do with that what you will. Alex has been talking about Speith but that might be in the golf!

We’ve had some new wine show up on the doorstep lately, along with the return of a few old favourites. On the new front, we’d mention Flametree Chardonnay 2019 (£18.99) one of Decanter’s Wines of the Year in their February issue and a real delight. We also have a new champagne, Andre Robert Les Jardins du Mesnil (£47) is a captivating Blanc de Blancs all from Grand Cru vineyards. Aged for five years on the lees it’s a stunning example of the style that you all know we both love. Whilst I’m shooting the breeze about bubbles I’d just mention that we have some Bolney Estate  Classic Cuvee (£28.99) chilling in the fridge.

On the old favourite’s front, we are freshly restocked with Collequieto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (£10.99) a cracking everyday drinker for those that haven’t tried it, dark berry fruits soft tannins and versatile on the food front.

Finally we’d like to raise a glass to Prince Philip using his words to the US Ambassador in 1999 “Where’s the Southern Comfort?”

Melagiu Diena!

April 1st, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Just a quickie this week and a day early, too – judging from sales this week, I can see how eager you all are to get out into those gardens and pop some corks, so I shan’t dally!

First up, opening hours.

This bank holiday weekend is a funny one, usually it’s just me and the man from Dalchini playing dominoes in the middle of the street as you all evacuate to bonnier climes far, far away.  This year however, is different and as a consequence of you all staying around, domino tournaments are suspended until May.  In the meantime, I thought I’d let you know when we’ll be open:

Today, Thursday 1st April – now until 7pm

Friday 2nd April – 12pm – 3pm – a short day just in case you need a bottle for lunchtime

Saturday 3rd April – 12pm – 6pm – plenty of time to stock up before we close for 2 days

Sunday 4th April/Monday 5th April – CLOSED

Tuesday 6th April – Back to ‘normal’…

Just as a memo to all this, I shan’t be able to make any deliveries on Friday due to the fact that the Volvo is a bit poorly and also Wayne is going to be busy at home with his latest side project.

After an umpteen of years talking about it he has finally got round to making his own wine, a red wine made exclusively from white grapes.  Key to the blend are Muskat Alarff, Tsallalie and the Lithuanian grape Melagiu Diena.  How he has managed to get the white wine grapes to produce red wine is a mystery to me but I imagine it must have to do with the prevalence of cochineal bugs, imported from Mexico to his vineyard in Balham that are accidentally crushed in the picking process (see, it’s really nigh on impossible to get a 100% vegan wine!).  Anyway, a red wine from white grapes named Red Wayne 20/20 – perfect for the Italian seasonal speciality Pesce d’Aprile…

Gibberish.

Anyway, I said this would be short and sweet, so let’s make it so.  Let’s also make it an email that doesn’t contain serious reference to Covid, bike racing, cricket or rugby, politics or European vaccine policy…

And with that, I’m gone – have a wonderful Easter break and let’s all hope it doesn’t snow on your garden parties!

Spring Loopholes and Rose

March 26th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, it’s been a busy week since the Stanley Johnson Loophole was revealed… 

Wayne has organised to go and look at a yacht in Cap d’Antibes (with a view to ‘buying’) and also a villa in Mallorca (again, with a view to ‘buying’) whilst Alex has elected to pop down and paint his mum’s old flat in Andalucia.  We can do such things for a couple of weeks because, you know, it’s not  a £5,000 fine-worthy ‘holiday’ we’re taking but actually a necessary trip to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.  If either of us should happen to accidentally end up in a bar or a restaurant or on a sunbed by a pool then that is entirely circumstantial and should not be considered to be ‘holidaying’.

Glad we made that clear, I’m sure the loophole won’t get abused.

In the world of health, a world that we have all become a little bit too invested in over the last 12 months, an unlikely hero was made of the common cold this week.  The presence of rhinovirus, as the common cold is commonly known to his friends, apparently blocks SARS-CoV-2 from replicating in the respiratory tract.  So, effectively, in the viral version of rock, paper, scissors the Rhino beats the Crown every time.  This could only be improved by the evolution of a benign-to-humans saltwatercrocodilevirus that would frankly wipe the floor with all comers…

In the world of weather, a world that we English have always been too overly invested in, today will be peppered with heavy rain and moderate breezes.  I mention this purely because we would like to take full responsibility for any inclement weather that occurs in the next few days.  We take this responsibility based on the fact that Wednesday morning saw the arrival of our first big tranche of rosé – a handsome half pallet of Les Vignobles de Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020 is now resident in the shop and the cellar, awaiting the arrival of the rule of six, sunny outdoor drinking and sensible socialising that we should all be able to start next week.  We’re ready for this, are you?

Les Vignobles de Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020

£13.99/bottle – 6 bottles for £72

In the world of passports, a world that we haven’t invested any time in over the last 12 months, the talk of the town is Boris’s ‘paper for a pint’ proposal.  ‘Let the landlord decide whether to serve you’ the blonde buffoon bellowed and we all thought to ourselves, well hasn’t that always been the case?  The hospitality industry has been on the naughty step for much of this pandemic and now BJ wants to put further controls on who they do or don’t serve by suggesting the introduction of a vaccine passport. 

Really?  A couple of points, if I may, Prime Minister. 

You’ve spent the last year stymying the on-trade and preventing them from making a living, they’re going to serve whoever they want to serve without your say-so and as many people as possible, as often as possible.  Oh, and have you heard, Boris, that the vaccine roll out is effectively suspended for anyone under 50 until at least May but that the pubs should be able to start serving people again on April 12th.  So anyone over 50 can get a pint but all those under 50 can wait in turn – let’s see how the twenty and thirty year olds react to that, shall we?  Let’s not make this into a ‘them and us’ situation, there’s already enough of that with the rampant cronyism of the coronavirus contracts…

And breathe.

Moving on, as it’s time to move on and talk about time.  This time last year we had our doors shut, we were taking email orders and driving round deserted streets delivering delicious drinks.  Oh, and one of us was about to get covid but didn’t know it yet.  It was also the last Friday in March and Wayne reminded us that on Sunday the clocks spring forward an hour, or, hopefully they spring forward 2 months!  How little we knew but time marches on and British Summer Time starts on Sunday, time to enjoy the brighter evenings.

And now I’ll leave you with another paragraph that he wrote that first week of lockdown, which I think still has a resonance:

Of course, I’m fully aware this is not a time to be flippant and I don’t mean to be so.  However, we don’t need to be sad all the time either, that’s really not healthy.  Play the cards you’re dealt whilst you can.  Don’t be silly, stay inside, engage with your family, phone the friends you haven’t spoken to for too long, eat sensibly, get good sleep, read a book, listen to music you wouldn’t usually listen to, stay off social media for a day, then another day, hoover the stairs, grow a mullet, learn how to do a hand stand, practice your putting, learn to speak Arapaho, take stock, make stock, stay busy….

Raise a glass to yourselves this weekend and also, of course, to absent friends…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

March 19th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We suspect that when she accepted the part in the Government production of the Wizard of Oz, Priti was hoping for a shiny pair of red shoes. Sadly for her, the more of the script she reads out at the despatch box the more she realises she is playing the part of The Tin Man. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive role to win given how many candidates could’ve been at the audition! The role of Scarecrow was already cast and there is certainly some confusion as to how he’s in charge of the Emerald City at the beginning of this production rather than the traditional end. We think the producer has Matt Hancock down as Dorothy, he looks like a rabbit in headlights at the lectern and we think inside he’s just wishing he was home. Has anyone seen his shoes? That probably puts Kier Starmer in the role of Lion doesn’t it?

So, not content with giving assaulters of statues potentially a larger sentence than assaulters of women, the Home Office has come up with another ridiculous idea. Following the trashing of their plan to send asylum seekers to empty oil rigs, they have now decided to process the said asylum seekers on an island. At the moment that island is unnamed but Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have ruled themselves out and we’ve tried to contact the Mayor of Canvey but to no avail.

We thought perhaps it could be a reward to the people of the Isle of Wight for their outstanding development work on the Test and Trace App, until we remembered we were stopping overseas development schemes. Last year’s idea of Ascension Island still seems a bit far-fetched, I mean who’s going to pay for the 4000 mile flight? Turkey is another idea they are floating and Priti definitely went to the same people management classes as Erdogan. I would ask you this, as we come out of lockdown with rising unemployment, what sense does it make to offshore jobs? Not to mention the cost of the flights or the contradiction with the Governments declaration of a climate emergency. Perhaps Turkey has been mentioned in a deterrent capacity, but how can we be sure that asylum seekers have even seen Midnight Express? I tell you wine lovers, it’s a mess!

Meanwhile in a firm show of commitment to “Levelling Up” the BBC has pledged to move 400 jobs out of London. Not all of the details are available but it appears Salford will benefit rather than Turkey, and there’s a good chance of a BBC version Coronation Street without adverts! Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham all look to benefit too as the Beeb starts to host more shows outside of London. News that more of the Proms concerts will be hosted outside of London has us puzzled as we thought there was but one Albert Hall. That said, we look forward to the Wizard of Oz going on tour, and understand the Scarecrow already has personal appearance booked in Hartlepool. 

In European news, there has been a lot of hot air about vaccinations, the lack there of and the rights of the EU to impose tariffs till their fridges are full. However, we know that all you’re really interested in is the Milan-San Remo bicycle race on Saturday. This 299km race is the first of the season’s Monuments and only two Brits have won it, Tom Simpson in 1964, and Mark Cavendish in 2009. Cav described it as “the easiest race to finish, but the hardest to win”. This year, the bookies favourite is Mathieu van der Poel and his form thus far makes it difficult to argue, but I do have a nagging feeling about Julien Alaphillipe who out-sprinted both him and Wout van Aert on a stage at Tirenno-Adriatico last week.

Congratulations to Team New Zealand for successfully retaining Auld Mug in the America’s Cup. I don’t know about you but the idea of hanging over the side of one of these 100kmh yachts on skis terrifies me.

Closer to home the Six Nations draws to a close on Saturday too with games at 14.15, 16.45 and 20.00 – looks like I might struggle to fit the cycling in!

Whilst I’m here, I’d like to mention a new beer we listed recently, SlyBeast Lager (£2.80). The Slybeast microbrewery is the brainchild of Lee and Keris from the Pig & Whistle and is based just down the road in Wandsworth, continuing a tradition that has lasted on the site since 1533. The malty and citrus notes make it the perfect tipple for coping with the excitement of back to back Six Nations.

A local beer brewed by South Africans, now that is something I think we can all embrace.

That’ll be enough from us this week, we’re nearly there so wear a mask, have a jab, wash your hands and drink some wine.

Cheers!

Mother’s Day

March 12th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As he sat on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport one evening, he knew what was expected of him.  His new employers had committed a huge sum over the next few years – for the benefits of his services. 

But it wasn’t just his skills that made him such a valuable commodity. He and his wife were among the world’s most recognisable faces.

Back home in the UK, they were by far the country’s biggest celebrities.  The Daily Mirror proclaimed that he was on a “one-man mission” to be a “success in a country where others had failed”.  

So expectations were high.  

And, as the couple emerged from the plane at Los Angeles airport, they were swamped by photographers and news crews in a scene more in keeping with red-carpet showbusiness than the arrival of a ….

What do you think, pretty good opening lines?

When Jilly Cooper said she was happy to ghost write his memoirs, Harry couldn’t resist such a tantalising offer.  With an oeuvre containing cleverly named masterpieces including  Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata, Pandora, Wicked!, Jump! and, of course,  Mount!, Jilly’s texts had become must reads for any Etonian growing up south of Tetbury and the thrill of adding Harry! to this list felt AT LAST like an acknowledgement of his success…. funny that he didn’t mention it to Oprah!

Actually, this is an edited excerpt from David and Victoria Beckham: Was America won over?  By Jon Kelly, BBC News Magazine, Washington DC, on 2nd December 2012.  You’ve got to say, there are similarities, a young couple trying to ‘break America’ and achieve similar levels of fame that they have this side of the pond,  although I don’t imagine Harry & Meghan sat on gold thrones on their wedding day!

And people, that’s all we will ever have to say in relation to the Oprah interview.

This Sunday we celebrate the fourth Sunday in Lent or Mothering Sunday as we more commonly know it.   A celebration of the church where you were baptised, including a visit ideally, but also, thanks to the efforts of Anna Maria Jarvis in the early 20th century, a celebration of all Mother’s. 

Anna Maria lived to hate her successful commemoration to Mother’s and as it became more and more commercialised she even tried to have it cancelled.  In 1948 she died disenchanted in a sanatorium, with all her medical bills having been paid for by people from the floral and greeting card industries!

So, with that in mind, anyone want to buy some wine for their Mum?!

As it’s a celebration it really ought to be bubbles we reckon, so why don’t I give you a quick list of Champagne that we have in stock:

Non Vintage

Lété-Vautrain Brut 204 – £30.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut – £36.99

Tarlant Brut Nature – £45.00

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV – £48.00

Rosé

Delavenne Père et Fils Grand Cru Brut – £45.00

Vintage

Lété-Vautrain Grand Millesime 2012 – £35.00

Collet Brut 2008 – £50.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale 2008 – £70.00

Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 – £112.00

Billecart Salmon Cuvée Nicolas-Francois 2002 – £150.00    

Or you could buy her some nice soap….

That really rounds off our week, no mention of sport, largely because it’s just too painful to talk about.  Saying that, we welcome the return of one of 2020’s finest super-spreader events next week as the Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday – no tips from us this year which is frankly good news for all of you given our previous form but do be on the lookout for Guinness on discount as there must be an oversupply somewhere, given the amount that is usually consumed… there you go, that’s our sort of tip!

And we leave you with a reminder that, for now, Piers Morgan is not on morning telly – happy days!

Random Ramblings from Wimbledon Park

March 5th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Having a look at the papers this week, we’ve discovered that Prince Philip has had a heart operation and that Harry and Meghan have become famous enough to get an interview with Oprah, which has really put the Buckingham Palace press machine’s nose out of joint. We did wonder if there was any connection with Meghan asking for a front page apology from the Daily Fail.

Nicola Sturgeon seems to have broken no laws but faces calls for her resignation, whilst Matt Hancock has been found to have broken the law by the High Court but not resigned. Lord Frost, our new/old man in the Brexit role, has unilaterally extended the grace period for goods arriving into Northern Ireland which the EU seems to think will have the Government breaking international law. I don’t know about you but all this talk of law breaking is an uncomfortable reminder of the marmalade menace recently retired to a golf course. Incidentally, we noticed he chose to stand at a lectern and say words to an audience this week too.

Anyway, as we progressed through the newspapers we came to one of them, printed on salmon pink paper, that seems to think we’ve had some kind of budget. We looked into it and it seems to be a trustworthy publication as there has indeed been a budget.  

Naturally, it all started with a photo opportunity, a kind of Downtown Abbey meets M.C Esher affair with Dishi Rishi and his team arranged around a rather plush staircase. After that, it all got a bit fishy with Rishi donning his Sheriff of Nottingham persona according to the Rowntree Foundation. They state changes to universal credit will push more people into poverty and over a million people would be paying tax for the first time.  It does look as though we are all going to pay for the World-Beating Moonshot test and trace consultancy fees whether we like it or not.

Whilst we’re on the subject, we think we have a spare hour or two on Monday’s and Tuesday’s and are available as consultants for a very reasonable fee. We have little expertise in much at all but do both own a suit that we could wear without a tie when necessary.

Talking of Moonshots, Space-X did their third test with their Starship this week. It did manage to land this time but then exploded eight minutes later. Much as we’re both desperate for some travel outside of the 7 mile radius of this building, we’re even less ready than Space-X to lay down our beach towel at the final frontier just yet.

There has been rather a lot of movement on the earth front. In Sicily it has literally been raining minerality as Etna has been throwing rocks and sand into the sky, New Zealand’s North Island had an earthquake of 8.1 magnitude just this morning and in Iceland there has been much talk amongst scientists that Mount Keilir is about to get busy for the first time since the 12th century. In Wales, they’ve found a secret tunnel to Tintern Abbey probably built in the 12th Century. Closer to home, there have been a lot of roadworks as Thames Water appear to have sprung many leaks.

News of booze this week features a freeze on alcohol tax in the budget, thanks Rishi! Also the US has announced they will drop sanctions on single malt Scotch whisky. This is also good news for Stilton producers who somehow managed to get wrapped up in the same piece of legislation. Not necessarily a partnership I’d go for, but horses and courses…

As for us, we’ve bought a new Aussie. Made by Ben Glaetzer, Heartland Directors Cut Shiraz (£28.99), from Langhorne Creek, is a cracker. The estate’s flagship wine, it has bags of berry compote, violet and chocolate on the nose. The palate is a spiced plum and bramble fruit, some liquorice spice and a finish almost as long as the Oliver Stone final cut of JFK. An excellent wine to ease you through those short ribs that have been going low and slow on the BBQ all afternoon whilst you watched Le Strade Bianche.

With that we bid you a fond adieu until next week’s thrilling instalment.

Cheers!

Dates not Data or is Data not Dates?

February 26th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Everyone booked a haircut?  Table in the pub?  Holiday to Crete?  Theatre ticket?

I know, it’s very exciting isn’t it!  In the much heralded but ultimately fundamentally underwhelming Boris statement on Monday we learnt that within 4 months we might just about be ‘back’.  Focusing heavily on data not dates, we now have 8th March, 29th March, 12th April, 17th May and 21st June in our calendars and these could be added to if we don’t behave ourselves and toe the line, so just watch your step or you’ll get sent to the Home Secretary!

So, on 8th March all the kids go back to school and try not to touch each other too much.  Oh, and finally we can meet up recreationally in groups of two… because of course, this hasn’t been going on throughout lockdown at all but the good news now is we can take a sandwich with us and eat it together without risking arrest.

29th March brings us the unofficial first anniversary of Matt Hancock and Boris both getting Covid and the official start of the barbecue season as the ‘rule of six’ returns and we can go and sit in a friends garden and hang out but not use their loo, of course.  Grass roots sport can also return, which will be good news for England’s Rugby and Cricket teams as they might be able to get a game more suited to their abilities.

12th April – not just Westlife’s Brian McFadden’s birthday but also the day we can have a haircut, go to the gym and then go and sit in a pub garden, have a beer with another bubble and now, excitingly, also use the loo.

17th May – the big one…we can now go inside our friend’s houses, sit on their chesterfield and raid their fridge – all with Boris’s blessing.  If you meet friends at the pub, you can sit inside in a group of six from two households however, if you brave the garden you can be in a group of up to 30 with no household limit although this might be a bit intimidating for those of us who’ve only just got used to meeting up recreationally in groups of two.

21st June – summer solstice, watch the sunrise at Stonehenge, go to a wedding, hit a nightclub and then go and watch England v Czechia at Wembley the following evening because now we’ll be free, free to do what we want, any old time!

Very exciting, plenty to look forward to!

Right now though we have much to look forward to over the next few days – with the 3rd Test between India and England balanced on a knife edge and the all-conquering England Rugby team journeying down to Cardiff tomorrow afternoon it should be a veritable festival of sport this weekend… oh wait, hang about, I’m totally deluded.  The cricket is over, in quite an extraordinary manner and, as a wise man said yesterday, if you scrub out the Saracens players from the England squad then you’ve got the bare bones of a decent team.  In the meantime, I feel another drubbing coming….

In the world of wine we have a few titbits which may or may not be of interest relating to stock.  We’ve managed to get hold of some more Pulenta ‘La Flor’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Pulenta ‘La Flor’ Malbec wines which were both much missed when they lost their UK distributor.  The good news is they have a new distributor and thus are back on the shelf at £16.59 per bottle.  This new distributor also sold us a couple of new wines/old favourites from the legendary Maculan estate in Breganze, Veneto.  The red, Brentino 2018 (£23.99), is a delicious Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend which has been Alex’s wine of choice at Buona Sera on Northcote Road for a good 15 years, if not longer.  The other old friend is Torcolato 2017 (£28.99) – a half bottle of simply delicious sweet wine from the Vespaiolo grape variety, which are then air dried for 4 months before crushing to produce a sweet and full bodied dessert wine that I will likely be having with a bit of blue cheese tomorrow night.

Oh, and we also bought a few bottles of the Christian Moueix Othello 2014 (£50) which is a Bordeaux blend made at the famed Napanook vineyard where Christian established Dominus Estate in 1983.  As a side note, the 2014 Dominus is currently about £180 a bottle so we thought this was little more wallet friendly!

So, having tantalised your taste buds why don’t you pop in and follow your palate!

A customer this week was chatting about brand image and how often people get it very wrong.  We concurred, citing this weekly email as text book example of how not to do it.  She disagreed (was probably just being polite, she has a history of being so) saying that she admired the ‘insouciant, don’t give a damn attitude’ that emanates from our witterings on subjects often not associated with wine – however, having just re-read this week’s version, I’m very sure I don’t know what she was referring to!

And with that I’m gone, until next time!

Tunnels

February 19th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week seems to have flown past. We have found ourselves enjoying the sunshine, the rain and the later sunsets at the same time as being somewhat glad to see the back of the ice. We’ll confess to having some sympathy for the Texans, many of whom will have only seen snow on the TV. When you’re used to driving on sunlit freeways it must be quite a discovery that the SUV is more difficult to control than it seems when The Stig is behind the wheel. Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity with the electorate, Texas State Senator, Ted Cruz, jetted off to Cancun.

On the virus front, numbers all seem to be moving in the right direction, particularly here in London, so all eyes will be on Monday’s briefing. Will we be nailed down until April like Northern Ireland, or is something else on the cards?

Whilst we’re on the subject of Northern Ireland, did anyone notice talk during the week of a tunnel from Scotland to Northern Ireland? First discussed in 1954, this poppycock idea is surely a distraction but it intrigued us enough to take out our torches and look a bit further into it. We also tried to have a chat with our mole in the Cabinet Office but he wasn’t returning our calls, so this is all clearly our own conjecture.

The place where you’d most like to have the tunnel is surely the shortest distance which, as it happens, is also about the place where the Irish sea is at its deepest. We think this could pose a number of logistical issues and we’ll start off with the large amount of unexploded WWII ordinance. From the end of the war all through the 1950’s some 20,000 tons of obsolete weapons and bombs per year were dumped into the sea at Beauport’s Dyke just south of there. This carried on all the way through to the 1970’s though with only around 3,000 tons per year. They’ve been washing up on beaches on and off since the early 1990’s and I’m not sure I’d want to be driving a big rotary drill under that lot!

We wondered about asking the folk at Euston Square but they were tied up, so we pushed on ourselves. I would stress that neither of us have much in the way of expertise in large earthworks, Wayne help dig a land drain in the garden once but that’s about the sum of it.

According to our back of the envelope calculations, the depth of the sea is some 175 metres down to the bottom here. The distance is some 25 miles and, to keep an acceptable gradient for a goods train to get up (less than 5% ideally, since you ask), we think the other end of the tunnel is going to be closer to Donegal than Belfast. I’m not sure about you, but I’d say this is not a solution to Marks & Spencer’s Percy Pig problem!

We like the idea that it’s a smaller tube like tunnel run by compressed air so you just put products in a torpedo and shut the door. Then it whooshes down the tube to the other end like the cash in an old fashioned department store!

In other news Liam Thorpe, 32 and the political editor of the Liverpool Echo, was offered a covid vaccination. Puzzled as to how this could be the case given his lack of underlying reasons to be so far up the queue, he discovered that he was officially 6.2cm tall with a BMI of 28,000!

In Sussex, a man due to return to prison handed himself into Police early, deciding he’d prefer the peace and quiet of prison rather than another day in lockdown at home!

Valentine, Riesling and Rioja – The Beauty of Age

February 12th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, what a disaster last weekend that was at Twickenham! 

I’m sure I can’t have been the only person who was on the phone to their parents at half past six, just double checking  there was definitely no Scottish blood in our ancestry, so bereft did we feel.  A few of us could take solace in the fact that the Wales-Ireland game wasn’t until the next day and, with their Emerald Green Passport in hand (ok, I know it’s a normal red EU passport but do allow me some poetic licence), could look forward to perhaps a more favourable result on Sunday.  However, losing Peter O’Mahony in the 14th minute did not make Irish eyes smile… nonetheless it was one hell of a game after that and as pointed out by almost everyone on Twitter, Billy Burns is English, so it was always to end this way…

And then we heard of a chap who, along with joint Irish/English nationality, also spent a decent period of time living in Italy and as a consequence has a certain soft spot for gli Azzurri – well, we can guess how well his weekend went!

But we stride forward, with the second visit of the Six Nations this weekend starting with the wooden spoon match at Twickenham vs Italy on Saturday.  This is followed by the championship decider between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield, with the Ireland-France game taking place at 3pm on Valentine’s Day.

Yep, there you go, you’re welcome, that’s a reminder… 

Of course you knew that it’s Valentine’s Day on Sunday, how could I ever doubt you?  You have, of course, managed to order a card and gift online because you realised a while back that none of the card shops are open and you really shouldn’t buy a bunch of red roses and a box of Ferrero Rocher from the florist that also sells petrol for the third year on the trot!  Nevertheless, should you feel that perhaps you want put icing on the cake and push the boat out with a bottle of Champagne or such like, we are open until 7pm tonight and also from midday until 7pm tomorrow, Saturday, you know, the day before Valentine’s Day, just in case like….

Whilst we are all making the most of the glorious weather here right now, we really should consider our poor friends over in New Zealand where they are suffering their late summer sunshine whilst also celebrating New Zealand Wine Week – an event that in normal times would be promoted here with tastings galore and social events but sadly not so much this year.  In place of any such tastings we would like however like to tell you about one wine that we have just got back in stock, from the Mountford Estate in North Canterbury (Waipara).

So often, when you think of New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are the grapes that spring to mind.  However, without denying the quality of these two, there are more players on the scene producing fabulously delicious drops and the Mountford Liaison Riesling 2013 – £ 17.49, is one of those wines.  Now, we must confess, we have a huge soft spot for aged Riesling, the depth and richness they develop over time turns them into something really quite special.  This one is lovely, with layers of citrus fruit, some honeyed character and a lovely precise acidity keeping it all nice and fresh.  It’s not dry, but you wouldn’t want it to be in all honesty, and it is simply gorgeous with something like a Prawn Laksa, should you feel like some escapism!

Now, enough from me, over to him, who wants to tell you about a small parcel of Rioja that he’s very pleased to have in stock – over to you, Huw…

Thank you, Huw.  I’d like to talk to you about a rather special wine from our chums at Valenciso.  Undoubtedly one of our favourite Rioja producers, the winery was founded in 1998 as a collaboration between Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso.  With more than 30 years’ experience in Rioja wine production, they decided to focus on just one style of wine – a classically structured, subtle and elegantly fine Reserva.  One of the few wines that was on the shelf the day we opened and that we’re still buying. 

Their vineyards are in north-west Rioja Alta, at altitudes of 400-600m, and only produce wine when it meets their exacting quality standards.  There was no 2003 or 2013 for example; all the grapes were sold to other less discerning producers.  Alex was lucky enough to visit them in 2007 whilst they were still finishing the winery – you too can visit once we’re all released on parole!

The wine I want to talk to you about was released 10 years after the vintage.  Park Vintners left the drawing board and became a reality in 2010 but more importantly this coincided with just about the best vintage in Rioja this century.  The Atlantic influence was significant throughout, producing highly aromatic wines with impressive balance, which suits these guys and their vineyard situation down to the ground.

Aged for five years in concrete and then 54 months in Russian Oak before bottling and a bit of a rest in the bottle, this is the real deal.  Dark fruits, balsamic notes from the ageing and a beautiful silky palate with an impressively long finish…

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the rather exceptional 2010 Valenciso Reserva ’10 Años Después’ (£35 or £100 for a wooden box of 3).  We have a finite amount of stock, so do please form an orderly queue.

Cheers!

Cricket and Yorkshire Pudding

February 5th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Are we here already? How did that happen? One minute I’m out for a stroll and before you can even comment on the mud and standing water it’s time to write The Weekly Wine. 

After much discussion and backwards and forwards we thought it might be nice if we start with some good news this week. Test cricket is returning to terrestrial television from this morning as Channel Four have secured the rights from Star Media. Just in time for Root’s 100th cap too!

We have had complaints about the lack of sports coverage lately, so whilst we’re on the subject we would also note that the Six Nations Rugby starts on Saturday with Italy travelling to France and England travelling to Scotland for the Calcutta Cup. Could be that both England and Scotland field a rookie centre according to the Beeb!  Sunday sees the Welsh enjoying Irish hospitality.

Elsewhere the road cycling season started Wednesday with the Étoile de Bessages Tour de Gard opening the season. Given the limited opportunities to ride, this year’s race has an unexpectedly high number of ‘star’ names with three Tour de France winners on the start line. If, like me, this is your first encounter with the race, it started in 1971 and has been a five stage race since 1974 joining the UCI Europe Tour in 2005. For what it’s worth, I think we’ve found a race that Eddy Merckx hasn’t won!!!

In other news, countrywide vaccinations are continuing apace with the best part of 15% of the population now done. A University of Aberdeen study found that international travel was a big factor in the death rate and that restricting it would have made quite a difference to the spread of the pandemic. It didn’t mention horses, stables or the whereabouts of Glenn Miller. Seriously though, with numbers heading in the right direction, that dim light in the distance could actually be the light at the end of the tunnel!

We noted that Jeff Bezos has decided to spend some money on new business cards, standing down to just “executive chairman”. As far as we can see no control has been relinquished, just a change of title. I can’t imagine why he’d want to concentrate on the media part of his empire just as the sales side comes under investigation by the Attorney general of Connecticut, and the Senate anti-trust committee.

After briefly flirting with the idea of democracy and elections the army has taken over again in Myanmar. In Russia, Alexei Navalny has been put in prison for two years just because; and Canada have proven once again to be the grown-ups as they declare the Proud Boys a terrorist organisation.

This Sunday being the first Sunday of February it is, of course, Yorkshire Pudding Day. The exact origins of the Yorkshire Pudding remain unknown but it’s generally agreed to be associated with the north of England. The prefix “Yorkshire” was first used in 1747 publication, ‘The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple’ by Hannah Glasse, which distinguished the light and crispy texture of the pudding made in this region from other batter-based puddings created in different parts of the country. It was traditionally made in one large tin, rather than the smaller, individual puddings more common today.

In wine news, though possibly not what you’d describe as ’breaking’, The New Scientist reports that Greece domesticated grapevines around 4000 years ago to make winemaking easier. Again there was no mention of horses, stables or the whereabouts of Glenn Miller.

So that’s probably enough from us, let us know what you’re having with your Yorkshire pudding, I’m sure we have a wine to go with it, who knows, maybe even a Greek one!