All in the pink

May 18th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’d like to put it straight out there, right from the off: there’ll be no ‘will they, won’t they’ with us. We shall not be going to the Royal Wedding. Much as we may have liked a day out in the sunshine in Windsor, our hearts would have been here with you in Wimbledon Park, so we declined the invitation, our offer to supply the wine was rebuffed and we’ll be open as usual. We may have cucumber sandwiches for lunch though!

We have been following the preparations with interest and are as excited as the next guy about who the designer is likely to be. We’ve long followed the sartorial choices of Elton John who’s performing at the knees-up, Alex has the suit down as being a Prada, whilst Wayne is thinking D&G the more likely supplier. Song wise, we understand Rocket Man to be one of Harry’s favourites. Talk of all the guests being issued with Elton John style spectacles for a panoramic photograph are said to be wide of the mark.

The bride-to-be was originally to walk down the aisle to the music from the King and I but, after a quiet word from Prince Charles, we understand it’s more likely to be a Mark Knopfler tune. Whether it is a song from Local Hero or the Princess Bride is currently unclear. Our sources seem absolutely convinced that the first dance was chosen by Harry and will be the Fatboy Slim mix of ‘I See You Baby’ by Groove Armada. If anyone can get a vimeo of the Queen grooving along to this there’s a glass of wine in it for them!

So how many weddings have you been to where your team has been in a play-off, local derby, or a cup final? How will Prince William, President of the FA, play it? Given the timing of the game, is it feasible that he can deliver his Best Man’s speech and then hop into a waiting helicopter to drop in at Wembley? Will he be at Wembley and deliver his Best Man’s speech by Skype? Or has he had to knuckle down like the rest of us and just be sneaking glances at the game on his phone? For all those missed games in the past, I really hope it’s the helicopter option!

Talking of football, we see the Guv’nor has picked an England team for the World Cup and most commentary seems to focus on the fact that they are the third youngest team we’ve taken to the competition. Alex may still be smarting from not being picked to go on the Rugby jaunt to South Africa, but I’m sure he won’t mind a jaunt in goal if you just want to get the average age up!

In real sport, the Giro d’Italia is grooving along very nicely, showing us some lovely parts of Italy to visit in the future, 16% climbs on cobbles, sunshine, rain and motor racing circuits. Most importantly we have an Englishman in the lead and he’s winning stages in style, too. Simon Yates is racing like a boss, with defending champion Tom Dumoulin in second and Chris Froome some 3 minutes or so behind in 12th place.

Tasting This Weekend
At the risk of jinxing everything, we thought we’d turn the white corner pink this weekend and open up Chateau de L’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie Christine’ 2017 (£14.99 or £78 for six). A Cru Classé Côtes de Provence Rosé that many of you have been familiar with over the years. We think this vintage is particularly tasty, so come and have a taste, see what you think.

Red wise we’re assuming there may be a spot of outdoor cooking action and will open Barton Rouge 2013 (£8.99) a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz from South Africa that will be delicioso with all manner of seared food products on the grill (gas or charcoal).

Iron Man Missing, Bacchus and Gamay Noir

May 11th, 2018

こんにちは Wine Lovers,

What can I tell you about the Land of the Rising Sun? It is ancient, modern, charming, crazy, full of tradition and kindness but also has young, trendy sub-cultures. Almost impossible to describe in a holiday newsletter, let alone one that is supposed to be about wine. If you ever get the opportunity to go, I would urge you not to pass up the chance.

In other holiday news, Trumpolina and Kim Wrong ‘un are going to visit Singapore in June, whilst big Eddy has announced the chaps he’s taking on his South Africa trip with him. A surprise inclusion for many was Danny Cipriani but, on reflection, he’s worked hard at Wasps and probably deserves a trip to the South. Tottenham have managed to book a European Tour for next season, whilst at Arsenal no one will know where anything is, due to a change of management.

Back to business then, we note that Rolls-Royce have announced ground-breaking plans to build an SUV. I can imagine that the CEO’s of Volvo, Range Rover, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford, BMW (don’t they own Rolls?), Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan, Skoda, Seat, Audi, Jaguar, Peugeot, Renault, Kia, Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes, Lamborghini, Bentley and Jeep are kicking themselves, wishing they had thought of the idea. None of them have named theirs after the world’s biggest diamond though…

In other news, it appears that the Iron Man suit from the 2008 film has gone missing. We couldn’t help but wonder if an impending Royal wedding was just a coincidence. Can you think of a more awesome outfit for a stag night than Ironman?

In wine news, we understand that Dom Pérignon and Lenny Kravitz are in collaboration. It’s unclear at this stage if the Dom is going to come in a mirror glass bottle and purple fur jacket, but we’re hoping so! Full details in September, we’re told.

Tasting this Weekend

We’ll celebrate Wayne’s return by opening a white from Essex. New Hall Vineyards Bacchus 2017 (£13.99) is a cracking, summery white with a lively elderflower character from some of the oldest Bacchus vines in the country, grown in an area originally planted by Romans’, not far from Chelmsford.

Wearing the red jacket will be a Gamay Noir from Burgundy. Jean Loron’s “Jean” Gamay Noir 2016 (£13.99), a little richer than a Beaujolais, it’s a medium-bodied red with gently spiced dark berry fruits, soft tannins and a lovely fresh finish. Come along, and see how nicely these may fit into your weekend.

Wayne & Alex

And now it’s the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Hottest ever by all accounts. Take a brolly.

May 4th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Afraid you’ll have to put up with me again this week as Wayne is still single-handedly propping up the Japanese economy, whilst hopefully swerving any long term attachments to Hello Kitty merchandise.  In future I think I should read his applications for annual leave more diligently, as this is starting to feel a bit more like he’s on a sabbatical!  Oh well, as long as he brings us all back some Sake…

So we have struggled on bravely without his wit and charm to keep us going and, as a result, the weeks have just flown by and suddenly I’m writing the Friday email once again.

The essay plan for this week’s message reads, in no particular order, thus:

Giro.  Liverpool/Tottenham/Arsenal.  Elections.  Sainsbury’s.  Bank Holiday.  Weather (that always crops up).  Wine (as does this).  Fun spirits.  New Listings.  UKIP Black Death.  Japan.  There should probably be more but this is a good start.

And now to put some flesh on the bones.

In spite of the fact that our principal cycling correspondent is still on a bullet train somewhere the Giro d’Italia starts this weekend.  Now I lived in Italy for a while in the 1990’s and spent most of my days in the upper half, predominantly in Tuscany.  It is fair to say, I have never actually ventured south of Rome unless Sardegna counts.  Anyway, suffice to say my southern Italian geography is a little loose, I still occasionally reference the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and my children groan.  However, I bet none of you know that Israel is part of the Republic of Italy?  Well, it is for three days apparently, as the greatest cycling race on earth is starting there – that’s a long way back to Rome, even if you have been on the watt bike!

Liverpool made it to the CL final.  Will they be able to emulate Tottenham and beat the mighty Real?  Either way, Kane will claim the goals.  There will be no fairytales as Arsenal let Arsene down to another Madrid team – apparently there are younger chaps out there who thought the team was named after Mr Wenger, bless.

Local elections took place.  Wimbledon and Merton stayed much of a muchness, Wandsworth didn’t fall for Jeremy’s charms and UKIP had such a poor showing that their General Secretary likened it to the Black Death.  I would love to know how much they spend on media training?

Sainsbury’s and Asda getting seriously intimate whilst the rest of us wonder how they can possibly commit to a long term relationship.  The soundbite they wanted to catch the headlines was the promise to cut prices but the actual soundbite was the CEO singing songs from 42nd Street – ditto that media training question?

And now it’s the early May Bank Holiday weekend.  Hottest ever by all accounts.  Take a brolly.  We are fully prepared her though with oodles of Provençal perfection in the beautifully shaped bottles of Chateau de L’Aumerade 2017 (£14.99 or 6 for £78).  We even have a few bottles of Whispering Angel 2017 (£20.99) if you fancy seeing what all the press fuss is about.

Should Rosé not be your thing, we have all our Sacred Gins back in stock (Classic, Juniper and Cardamom), the Bonal Gentiane-Quina (£14.99) season will start again this weekend (mix with tonic and plenty of ice – delicious) and should you be in the market for jazzing up your bottle of fizz we can suggest Foxdenton Raspberry Gin (£14.99) or Chamberyzette Aperitif a la Fraise (£16.99) – neither of these need fizz but it does make it a longer drink and this a longer evening!

Back to wine now.  Frequently, whilst I am on holiday, Wayne has had moments of sheer devilment when he decides to list wines that we have previously not carried or have considered listing but never pushed the button.  In the past I have risen above such shenanigans when he vacates the premises but this time I said to myself ‘why not?’ and, since there was no one else here to tell my why not, I did.  I know right, who’s the boss?!

Just two new wines, I didn’t want to overdo it, you see:

The Rude Mechanicals Three Monkeys GSM 2016 – £12.99 – we first tasted this over a year ago, tried to order it but it hadn’t arrived from Australia yet and promptly forgot about it.  Until I remembered this week.  A classic blend of 67% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 13% Mataro from the Barossa Valley this is to my mind the style of blend that put Australia on the map – their version of the classic southern Rhône wines.  We found it really appealing without being blowsy and in your face and a real tasty mouthful for 12 and a bit quid.  Barbecue anyone?

Sepp Moser Zweigelt 2015 – £12.99 – an organic red wine from Austria, I know it’s just what you all keep asking me for.  Ok, maybe not but we will persist.  A hint of oak and juicy cherry, berry fruit and a lovely summery freshness – it’s not selling Italian Pinot Grigio that gets us out of bed in the morning, it’s selling esoteric flights of fancy such as this.  If you want to try it for yourself then rest assured it will be open this evening and tomorrow for your delectation.

Whilst on the subject of weekend tasting, as stated, I’ll open the Sepp Zweigelt as a red and for the white drinkers, following on from the huge success we had with the Accomplice a few weeks back, there will be a bottle of Flametree Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon 2016 – £15.99, from the wonderful Margaret River in Western Australia.  Lime, lemongrass and stonefruit notes on the nose whilst some lees stirring has added texture and minerality to the palate.  Shrimps?  Barbie? Don’t come the raw prawn with me, sunshine!

Well, it seems like I’ve manged to get all the salient points into some sort of order and the punctuation isn’t too bad (!) so I think my work here is done but for a last couple of things.

We’re closed on Monday, because it’s Bank Holiday.

We do sell ice and beer and other things too but this weekend I feel Rosé will run the show.

Enjoy the sunshine!!



Wayne is not a muse…

April 27th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

First up, the usual plea:

I’m sure you have heard that data protection laws are changing from 28th May 2018 and this will affect how all businesses hold and use customers email addresses.

As you know, we regularly send you Park Vintners Weekly Wine –  however, as a consequence of this law change, it will be necessary for you to opt in again to our communications moving forwards.

All businesses, including Park Vintners, will have to update their database and effectively create new lists of “subscribed/legal” users.

To do this, all of our emails from now until late May will have a reminder that asks whether you want to “want to keep hearing from us”.

Please do send us an email in reply to stay subscribed – currently we have about 30% of you opted in and by opting in this  ensures you’ll be kept up to date with all of our usual nonsense the information we send out.

You will no longer hear from us after 28th May 2018 if you haven’t.

Thank you for your time – now, on with the show…

You know what, we’ve been writing this Friday email/blog in one form or another for just about 11 years now, first with Wines of the World and, since 2010, for ourselves.  Over time we’ve seen it as a challenge to produce one every week and so far we have risen to this challenge.  We scour the news both from the real world and the wine world, we often research random topics to gain everyone that extra edge in dinner party conversations and, occasionally, we mention sport.

Some weeks the email writes itself.  Give us lots of exciting wine news or something to rant about and we are on it like a car bonnet.  But every now and then we have weeks like this one.  The majority of the news seems to only have six degrees of obsessive separation from the Royal Family – yesterday afternoon the front page Reuters headlines included:

Prince William will be brother Harry’s best man at wedding

Florida man’s Princess Di collection celebrates her legacy, fills house

Meghan Markle marries in last ‘Suits’ appearance before royal wedding

And these do not even include mention of the new royal baby, what the new royal baby might be called (which we now know and can expect real-time reactions to this news all day), the fact that Prince Charles is delighted to be a grandfather again or the fact that the Queen was 92 last weekend.  And it doesn’t look likely to abate in the near future.

So, the news is giving me nothing this week, which has left me slightly bereft of inspiration.

Add to this the fact that Wayne is currently knee deep in Sake, Sushi and Sumo somewhere in the Japanese hinterland and I come to the worrying conclusions that, firstly, my muse has deserted me and, massively more disturbingly, that Wayne is perhaps my muse?!

Moving swiftly on from such aberrations, I scour the wine news and find myself reading about Bordeaux 2017 – a subject that Wayne would usually talk about – is there no end to his power over me?

Anyway, moving away from my paranoia, it seems appropriate to dally with Bordeaux for a moment since it was this day last year, 27th April, in the early hours of the morning, that a ferocious frost hit Bordeaux and destroyed so many young buds, shoots and bunches at the onset of the growing season that approximately 40% – 50% of production was lost.  Not since 1991 had Bordeaux been hit so hard and the obvious knock on effect is that we will see less wine in the market – perhaps more worryingly for many of us, it was the daily drinking Chateaux that seem to have been hit the hardest, whilst the majority of top growths got away with it!  However, it was still a very ordinary summer with a bit more rain than necessary until August turned up, hot and dry.  Then it was wet in September, which has made some of the daily wines a bit dilute…. all in all a tricky vintage, the right bank really suffered worse than the left, so good for you Cabernet lovers, a lot less good for the Merlot fans.

And what of the prices?  Well, as we all know, reality and Bordeaux property owners don’t go to the same parties, so don’t expect miracles.  Having said that, Chateau Palmer 2016 was 240 euro per bottle on release whilst the 2017 was released at 192 euro this week.  In the more realistic world, Chateau Labégorce in Margaux has released at 17.80 euro per bottle, a 10% drop.

A bargain.

Well, actually yes, if one considers that Chateau Haut-Batailley has released at 42 euros a bottle, up about 46% from the 28 euros it released the 2015 for.  Apparently they want to ‘reposition the brand’ and raising the prices like this is how you do it.  I’m fairly sure if we tried to ‘reposition our brand’ and make everything 50% more expensive we would soon find ourselves repositioned in the queue at the job centre.

The conclusion I draw from all this?  Drink Rhone wines, or Portuguese, or Spanish, or south Italian, or Czech, or Hungarian, or South African or….

With this in mind let me introduce you to the wines of Ai Galera.

Tejo is a region east of Lisbon that has been overlooked for too long, as indeed has the whole of Portugal.   This is absolutely where the value lies nowadays and I hope we will list more wines from this part of the peninsula as time goes on.  We have two wines from the winery:

Ai Galera Mistico 2017 – £8.79, is a blend of Fernão Pires and Verdelho.  Golden-yellow in the glass, entirely unoaked and with a lovely soft, satisfying, juicy fruit character.  Wayne thought some grilled sardines, Alex thought some lemon sole, what do you think?

Ai Galera Poetico 2016 – £8.79, this is a blend of the indigenous varieties Castelão 40%, Trincadeira 40% and Tinta Miúda 20%, since you ask and is utterly delicious.  Unoaked and juicy, with soft tannins, a medium body and red berry fruits that would partner up nicely with that chicken leg you’ve roasted up to a tasty crispiness for Tuesday’s supper!

So, bye bye Bordeaux, hello Tejo!

That’s it from me this week apart from admin – as an advance warning, the shop will be closed on Wednesday 2nd May during the day, hopefully opening in the evening – I have a rather important appointment out of town and will endeavour to get back as soon as I can, apologies in advance for any inconvenience – I will be here all the rest of the week, I promise!

Enjoy the weekend, drink some wine and recycle your bottles because, as Mr Macron told congress, there is no planet B!

Mum’s the Word

April 13th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As the fine line between missives and missiles appears to get ever more blurred, we’ve found our week to have been taken up with administration. Mostly the double input of a quarterly VAT return if I’m honest, and fortunately for me I seemed to have bagged the quietest quarter for my turn!

Some news that has amused us arrives from Argentina, the land famous for Malbec, meat and, it would appear, marijuana.  Eight police officers have been sacked after it was found that the 6000kg of marijuana they had under lock and key was, in fact, only 5460kg. The missing half ton or so was explained as having been “eaten by mice”. Now, while we may have some sympathy with how the story started…mice eats hash, gets the munchies, eats more hash….even our sympathetic ear finds 540kg a lot for a mouse.

It did make us go and listen to Eek-a Mouse’s “Ganga Smuggling” for the first time in a long while. Dung dung dilli dung dung…

In wine related news, the remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge have been found in a 17th century wine cellar below a 19th century church in Highgate. The author of Kubla Kahn and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, was, by most reports, no stranger to a glass or two, so I’m sure would be fairly happy with his position. He lived the last few years of his life in a house overlooking the church, Kate Moss owns it now, a different sort of poetry I’m sure.

Otherwise it’s all quiet on the western front.  The Commonwealth Games have been progressing and it gives me great pleasure to tell you that Last came first. Yes, we’ve medals in the cross-country mountain biking, a gold and silver for England with Annie Last and Evie Richards.

It’s the Grand National at 5.15 on Saturday, I really have no clue who might win, but will have an each way on Baie des Iles as I like the idea that Katie Walsh would become the first woman jockey to win it (she was 3rd in 2012). I would warn you however, that the horse is a seven year old grey mare trained by her husband. A grey hasn’t won in 50 years, and a mare since 1951, which was more recent than 1940, the last time a seven year old won.

Tasting This Weekend

We thought it might be nice to have a red and white from the same place this week so are heading down towards the Pyrenees for a couple of wines from our chums at Domaine Treloar.

Jonathan and Rachel own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon. Their path was rather unusual, after working in IT for 15 years, they were living almost next door to the World Trade Center when it was destroyed in 2001.

Having experienced that disaster at first hand, they decided to change direction, heading to Rachel’s native home of New Zealand where Jonathan studied oenology and viticulture at Lincoln University. He graduated top of the class, and then worked as the Assistant Winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards for 2 years. In 2006 they founded Domaine Treloar where they do everything in both vineyard and winery themselves.

In 2013 they were chosen as the Coup de Coeur (Favourite) Roussillon producer by La Revue du Vin de France, the country’s most influential wine magazine.

We love their wines and sporting the white jacket will be La Terre Promise 2016 (£18.49). A blend of Grenache Gris (50%), Macabeu (30%) and Carignan Blanc (20%).  A rich weighty white that’ll be delicious with some garlic and herb roasted chicken, or Boullabaise if you have time.

We understand that “Motus et bouche cousou” means Mum’s The Word in French, and wearing the rather fetching red jacket will be Motus 2015 (£18.49) a very smart red made mostly from Mourvèdre. In fact, a bit more Mourvèdre than is strictly permitted under the rules, Mum’s the Word (taps nose and winks!). It’ll be a delight with some slow cooked lamb.

Lastly, we were chuffed, completely made up even, with the number of you who would like to still hear from us.

Thanks very much.

I’m sure you have heard that data protection laws are changing from 28th May 2018 and this will affect how all businesses hold and use customers email addresses.

As you know, we regularly send you Park Vintners Weekly Wine – as a consequence of this law change, it will be necessary for you to opt in again to our communications moving forwards.

All businesses, including Park Vintners, will have to update their database and effectively create new lists of “subscribed/legal” users.

To do this, all of our email’s from now until late May will have a reminder that asks whether you want to “want to keep hearing from us”.

Please do send us an email in reply to stay subscribed.

This will ensure you’re kept up to date with all of our usual nonsense the information we send out.

You will no longer hear from us after 28th May 2018 if you haven’t.

Thank you for your time – on with the show…

The one about Data Protection Laws….

April 6th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’m sure you have heard that data protection laws are changing from 28th May 2018 and this will affect how all businesses hold and use customers email addresses.

As you know, we regularly send you Park Vintners Weekly Wine – as a consequence of this law change, it will be necessary for you to opt in again to our communications moving forwards.

All businesses, including Park Vintners, will have to update their database and effectively create new lists of “subscribed/legal” users.

To do this, all of our email’s from now until late May will have a reminder that asks whether you want to “want to keep hearing from us”.

Please do send us an email in reply to stay subscribed.

This will ensure you’re kept up to date with all of our usual nonsense the information we send out.

You will no longer hear from us after 28th May 2018 if you haven’t.

Thank you for your time – now, on with the show…

Easter has passed, we’re all back on the things we were off for lent (very royal ‘we’ since Wayne never gives up anything!) and this weekend is sports-tastic.

First up, the Commonwealth games snuck up on us. Seemingly it snuck up on the Brownlee brothers too who were caught napping and undertrained for the running bit of their triathlon. It was a bit alarming for the podium band too as it seemed they hadn’t practiced enough national anthems!

It’s the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend too, Sebastian Vettel won the first race and indeed this race last year, so it should be interesting to see how the floodlight event pans out. Will Lewis channel his frustrations into a winning strategy and will Bottas manage to stay on the track? It’s all there for the viewing.

Augusta National is apparently in fine shape as we move into the Masters. The battle for the Green Jacket includes Tiger Woods for the first time in three years, and Wayne is hoping all the focus on him may just allow Rory McIlroy to sneak in. I don’t know what he was thinking with his way out January email predictions. Alex is going for Rickie Fowler, more for tradition than anything else, but you never know!

In real sports, it’s the Paris-Roubaix bike race, also known as The Hell of the North. Looks like a relatively short flat race but just remember if anyone asks you to ride the 257km route, the only sensible answer is “Non”. There are 29 sections of energy sapping, tooth rattling cobbles covering a distance of 54.5km. Peter Sagan looks to be the bookies favourite, followed by last year’s winner Greg van Avermaet. We thought Luke Rowe was looking pretty good last week before his disqualification but it’s still early in his comeback from a broken leg, so keep an eye on Belgian cyclocross man Wout van Aert.

If you’re reading this in Beijing, that Napa Cabernet Sauvignon you regularly enjoy with that USDA pork chop just got way more expensive as Trumpolina and Mr Xi engage in silly trade tariff nonsense. A negotiating table looms in the not too distant future we suspect but, in the meantime, try something local.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll fill the white corner with a bottle of the Barton Blanc 2015 (£8.99), a cracking blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon from down in Walker Bay, South Africa. Alex spoke to Annie this week and it seems there has finally been some proper rain in the last few days, so hopefully that’ll serve to take the edge of the drought. This will quench our thirsts in the interim.

In the red corner we will have Feudo Antico Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2014 (£12.49), a full-bodied, cherry fruited, sappy little number with a touch of smoke in there too and just the thing to partner a rich ragù after a wet and windy Paris-Roubaix!

That’s all from us – please do let us know if you want to keep on receiving these missives as soon as possible so we can keep you on the list.


Koch Cserszegi Fűszeres – definitely easier to drink than pronounce…

March 29th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I know, we’re a day early this week.

This is not something that Alex could have been accused of on Sunday according to various fuming family members, all in spite of the continued reminders of BST in the last email but I think that, too often, he and timekeeping are not happy bedfellows.

Anyway, enough about that.  We’re a day early this week because we’ve got the longest weekend of the year ahead of us with Saturday and Easter Sunday bookended by bank holidays.  Plus, it’s the first weekend of the school holidays and I suspect, after what we have seen sales-wise over the last few days, that many of you have already made you run to the country this morning and are now reading this email on Tuesday 3rd April – hope you had a lovely time?

So, we’ll keep the round up short and sweet this week.  We’ve seen an new interpretation of the term ‘leadership group’: Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft fill this group – with Smith on 64 tests, Warner on 74 tests and Bancroft on 8 tests it feels similar to us promoting Rufus the dog to the Park Vintners board – unlikely.  Perhaps fighting with an England player is the criteria for entry…. anyway, not so many tears shed here for Mr Warner!

Conviviality gone?  We think so, as Bargain Booze prepares to close its doors and Wine Rack too – it’s a difficult area for wine retail, that one between small indies and the supermarkets, as has been proven over and over again – Oddbins, Threshers, Wine Rack (again), Bottoms Up, Unwins, Victoria Wine have all been the wrong side of the red line.  Potentially 2, 500 people without a job after Easter and all because the ‘leadership group’ couldn’t get round to paying their bills – shameful.

Julian Assange has had his internet cut off – makes updating WikiLeaks a little harder, I would imagine.  Shame in some respects as he does keep everyone on their toes.

Whilst Sunday is all about chocolate eggs and bunnies do be warned, it is also April Fool’s Day so be wary of tall tales about spaghetti trees in Switzerland, Prince Harry marrying a famous actress from California, Wayne getting his Bollinger tattoo coloured in or Gareth Bale signing for Swansea!

Wine for the weekend

The joy of being a day earlier means we get to pull some corks a day earlier too.

White wine will be our new friend from Hungary.  Koch Cserszegi Fűszeres 2016 – £12.59 is easier to drink than say.  Gently floral on the nose, reminiscent of spicy Alsace whites but properly dry on the palate.  Flavoursome, crisp, lively and really delicious – try it.

The red is another new chap, this time from Ribera del Duero in Spain.  Pinna Fidelis Roble 2016 – £13.39 is 100% Tempranillo and has lovely aromas of raspberry, redcurrant and a touch of wood spice.  Rich on the palate, with smooth and supple tannins, slightly darker fruits than the nose suggests and a rich, long finish – try this too!

Closed All Weekend

As mentioned last week, we will close at 8pm this evening and will not be opening the doors again until Tuesday 3rd April – have a wonderful Easter and whatever you do, take a brolly!

Last words go to Michael Vaughan:

“Steve Smith is a good guy who made a huge mistake. He needed punishing but I think this is too harsh. Bancroft was led astray and deserved punishing but again, too harshly, in my opinion. The other guy, I really don’t care about…” 


March 23rd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

In spite of Monday’s best efforts to make us throw in the towel and acknowledge the fact that we may never be warm again, Tuesday heralded the start of Spring, according to our calendar at least, if not the mercury.  However, Wednesday was proof that if we persist we might just get to wear shorts this year.  Thursday was just a bit ordinary but noticeably warmer than earlier in the week and this weekend, whilst we have a 90% chance of precipitation (rain rather than snow, we hope), the Celsius readings are due to reach double figures and stay there for a bit.  Next week seems to be promising 100% chance of light rain every day and with that we will swiftly move into April, and her showers….


British Summer Time.  This Sunday, however, we get less sleep as the clocks ‘Spring’ forward and we welcome Summer Time, which will allow us to watch all the rain fall in clearer daylight, for longer.


Ben Stokes Ton.  No, not even Ben Stokes two.  The lazarine return of our favourite nightclubber was nothing to shout about.  But then he wasn’t alone.  The paddling of ducks contained 5 members – Root, Bairstow, Moeen, Broad and, of course, Stokes – no acknowledged batsmen in there obviously.  Bring on plenty more rain delays I say – lovely weather for ducks!


Bitcoin Security Turmoil.  Ledger Nano S was a supposedly untamperable hardware wallet to keep your crypto-currency millions safe.  Until it was tampered with by a young British lad, four months ago.  Apparently they’ve fixed it but it does ask quite a few questions.  Just checked the cash in my jeans pocket – untampered.


But Seriously Though.  Facebook, Google, all of you, we all know you harvest our data and we willingly sign up to this in return for convenience, interaction, socialising and the rest.  Just try and keep it safe-ish, would you?


Big Supplier Taxed.  So, we’re not best pals with big booze retailers, for reasons that should be obvious.  As suggested last week, we feel little sympathy for Conviviality who happen to own two of the biggest alcohol wholesalers, Bibendum and Matthew Clark, and also, on the high street, own Wine Rack and Bargain Booze.  The story goes that last week they issued their second profit warning in a week, when they ‘discovered’ a £30 million tax bill due for payment at the end of the month.  £30 million.  Where was that letter hiding and who was meant to open it?

Anyway, they have now released another profit warning and are looking to raise not £30 million but £125 million (!) – they need  cash to resolve overdue payments with creditors, to settle payments with tax authorities, to repay a £30 million revolving credit facility and provide enough capital headroom to allow it to recapitalise the business.  So, within a week they have quadrupled their funding requirements, which to us looks like a business doomed.  Control that Schadenfreude, Alex.


Big Spirits Tasting.  Well, for the most part it’ll be Gin actually.  We’ve been trying to get a tasting like this off the ground for a while now and finally we have found someone willing to indulge us.

Step forward Alexander, superstar cocktail maker and world class gin expert at Sacred, our new gin supplier from Highgate.  Now, as mentioned before, we are stocking his original Gin, his Juniper Gin and his Cardamom Gin and also his English Peated Whisky.  So, we thought it would be a nice idea to get him in to do a tasting for us and, of course, you.  By all accounts he’ll show us a few of his different styles of Gin and some Vermouth, mention was also made of Negroni and also some sort of summer cup – suffice to say, an evening will be had!


Payment confirms attendance as we fully expect to sell this quite quickly!


Beach Shorts Time aka Bank Holiday Survival Training.  Next weekend is the Easter weekend and as a result of various intricacies too mundane to list here, we will be closed Good Friday through to, and including, Easter Monday.  Whilst the beach short reference above might imply we are off to the sunny seaside, this is sadly just a whimsy.  So, just to make it crystal:

Thursday 29th March – OPEN AS USUAL – 11am – 8pm

Friday 30th March – CLOSED

Saturday 31st March – CLOSED

Sunday 1st April – CLOSED

Monday 2nd April – CLOSED

Tuesday 3rd April – OPEN AS USUAL – 11am – 8pm

In fairness, the Easter weekend is by far the quietest weekend of the year and since it falls at the beginning of the school holidays we fully expect an unruly exodus on Thursday evening – so come and see us before then!


Blood, Sweat and Tears.  It’s been a hard week and you’ve all slaved away, perhaps we can offer you a taste of something on your way home this evening?

We’ll open Pauletts Polish Hill River Aged Release Riesling 2010, Clare Valley, Australia – £18.99 because we just love it and it’s the ‘new’ vintage.  Light straw in colour with a toasty honey nose.  Citrus flavours, predominantly lime, couple up nicely with excellent fresh acidity and a long clean finish and frankly it’s Riesling with age, what’s not to like?

For the red fans we’ll open an old favourite Casal de Paula 2015, Ribeiro, Spain – £15.49, which we last opened a calendar year ago – happy birthday as it were.  Four grapes equally make up the blend here, household favourites Brencellao, Ferron, Mencia and Souson and it hails from Ourense, right up there on the Spain-Portugal border.  Medium bodied with juicy, summer berry fruits and a lovely, long and fleshy finish.  Reminded us a bit of the reds we enjoy from the Loire, see what you think!


Bye-Bye, So long, Ta-ta.  That’s it from us.

In case you haven’t realised yet, Summer time starts on Sunday, don’t forget to change your clocks!

Blinkers, tongue straps and coloured silks….

March 16th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, it seems to have come round to this again rather quickly and I didn’t even write last week’s missive. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a rarity for me to write this around this time. I’m often away for this week, something to do with how busy my wife is and how sun-starved I feel, often finds me lurking a bit further south than Wimbledon Park. The consequence of which is that I normally miss Cheltenham week and St Patricks Day.

Not this year folks, as I write this I am honing my tipping skills, replenishing my account with my online bookmaker (give me a break we’re already three days in!) and hoping for a winner. Anecdotally, I can say that the best looking horses don’t win, the horses that lurk near the back sometimes do win all of a sudden just when you are serving a customer and picking a horse you’ve won on before is not a sound strategy. I’m glad I don’t have to run up that hill though, I’ve always hated cross country.

The real takeaway from the whole process is though how much mud, grass and horses interfere with the smooth running of a wine shop. Alex has done no work all week except to save a few numbers on a spreadsheet and I’m no better, a couple of boxes down the stairs and a cursory swish round with the broom. Other than that it’s been blinkers, tongue straps and coloured silks.

Looking at the Gold Cup, Alex is having his pennies each way on Total Recall, whilst Wayne has staked his each way on Road to Respect. The lucky pin has now gone back in the drawer till the Grand National!

Elsewhere in the world we appear to have returned to my teenage years. Tit for tat diplomat expulsions were all the rage when I was a youngster.  Everyone did it: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, us, even the USA! We are, of course, hoping this doesn’t mean we’re about to witness a return of Leo Sayer and The Flying Pickets to the Hit Parade.

In other news, Southampton have decided that Mark Hughes is a better managerial option than Mauricio Pellegrino. Personally, I’ve always found it puzzling that Mark Hughes is always available when a manager gets the chop. It all went a bit Messi for Chelsea, who have subsequently decided to concentrate on the Premiership.

This weekend is the last of the Six Nations Rugby with England hosting newly crowned Champions Ireland at Twickenham. An improvement on the last couple of performances is needed if we’re to end the day drinking Bitter rather than Guinness.  Wales host France and Italy compare their collection of wooden spoons with the Scots in Rome.

On the wine front it would appear that Conviviality, owners of Wine Rack and Bargain Booze, had forgotten they need to pay HMRC £30 million quid, and have suspended their shares as a result.

Bordeaux estate Cos d’Estournel have created a limited edition wine called Cos 100.  The 2015 vintage wine from a plot of 100 year old Merlot vines planted in 1915 by a group of women during the First World War, is being sold selling in 100 double magnums.  If you fancy one it’s yours for a mere €23000 from their website.

In a more realistic wine experience, tradition dictates that we will open something to taste for the weekend.

Tasting This Weekend

Crios Torrontes (£15.79) from Argentina is our pick this week for the white corner. Made by Susana Balbo, one of Argentina’s most celebrated wine makers, it is crisp, dry and aromatic, and we think it’s a wow with smoked fish and spicy dishes.

Whilst the green packaging on the Crios may appeal for a St Patrick’s Day link, we can’t decide if the wine in the red corner should be horse or rugby related.

Monte del Fra Valpolicella Ripasso (£18.49) a deliciously rich velvety drop from the Veneto. Plump in the mouth with spiced cherry fruit character, it’ll certainly be very tasty with a spot of roast Shergar.

We’ll leave you this week with the words of Stephen Hawking:

“remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet”


Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

March 9th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

That’s all from us, have a great week, see you soon!

Wayne & Alex


And that’s how the weekly email gets written.  We formulate a rough essay plan over an espresso or two at our morning sales meeting and then draw straws as to who then has to put the flesh on the bones.  The straw ‘winner’ of the day then settles himself in front of the laptop and fires up the search engine.

First search: snow’s gone – first hit: Josh Ritter Lyrics – Snow Is Gone – AZLyrics

Second search: march marches on – first hit: march | Definition of march in English by Oxford Dictionaries

Third search: what have you bought for Mum? – first hit: what have you bought for your mum’s 60th Birthday present…

Unmoved by the Americana of Josh Ritter, uninspired by the varied definitions of march and unamused that Mother’s Day wasn’t the first hit when Mum was mentioned, we embark on a final search:

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

Bizarrely, the first hit here is: Now more than ever, the youth are relying on the bank of mum and… therein lies a story for another day, I reckon.

But we still haven’t really got any flesh for the bones yet.

We spent a whole page of this email this time last year discoursing on Mothering Sunday originally relating to the church of your baptism (mother church) and not your actual mother mother, before it got reinvented by the gift card business post WWII and became the Mother’s Day of Milk Tray and daffodils.

So we can’t use that again this year.

We also can’t give any tips for Cheltenham next week because neither of us have done any ante post business as, frankly, we are struggling to find value – and to be fair, we’re pretty useless tipsters anyway, so we are saving everyone a few quid here.

So we can’t use that here either.

We can’t even go on a diatribe about St Patrick and seek out some appropriately named drinks for 17th March because that is next weekend, so sensible to keep our tinder dry until then.

Not even any Rugby to talk about… oh hang on, there is some, but after the mauling at Murrayfield we are keeping a very low profile and again, avoiding predictions.

Spurs got knocked out in the football, Liverpool and Man City didn’t and Arsenal have all to play for when they entertain the Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club back in London next week.

But this still isn’t really putting any flesh on the bones.

As a distraction (?) though, when we searched for the history of drawing straws, we discovered that ‘if a local or national election has resulted in a tie in which candidates receive exactly the same number of votes after three recounts, the winner can be decided either by drawing straws/lots, coin flipping’ (Wikipedia).

And it’s not just Wikipedia making things up,  this actually happened last year, last May in fact, in the South Blyth local election in Northumberland.  The eventual winner, Lib Dem Lesley Rickerby said the following to ITV:

“It’s unbelievable that when you consider we have a democratic service that we end up having to draw straws.  It was very traumatic and I certainly would have preferred it to be a majority, but the way our system works, after a couple of recounts, we had no choice.

The returning officer decides if we would flip a coin or draw straws and he went with straws.”

Who knew Alex & I were following such precise political processes?

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

Anyway time to get back on message now, a page and a half written and we’ve got exactly nowhere.  The snow disappeared overnight last weekend, much to the chagrin of the local school children but not the local shopkeepers.  February is now long gone and March is forging ahead – we like this, as every day we get closer to the switch to summertime which, I think we can all acknowledge, is a very good thing.

And now to Mother’s Day.  The opportunity to give your Mum a treat on Sunday is one that should not be missed – it’s one day in the year to treat her like a Queen and, from what I’ve heard, she’s a saint and you don’t deserve her!

Furthermore, she’s given us a shopping list…

Yes, she would definitely like some flowers but not ones from the florist that also sells petrol.  Ditto chocolates, but ones that have actually been bought recently, not re-gifted.  Oh, and she would also like a drink.  She’s a bit over Prosecco but could be persuaded to a glass or two of Beaumet 2007, with its delicious leesy richness.

She is also very keen to experiment with Gin: she believes it has an undeserved reputation in relation to mothers and the ruin thereof.  She would therefore like to dispel this myth once and for all and, having read, in the Daily Telegraph a while back, that nice Victoria Moore say ‘it might be the best martini gin I’ve ever tasted’ with regards to Hepple Gin, thinks this is a good place to start.  Her words, not mine.

Flowers – £?

Thorntons Chocs – £?

Beaumet 2007 – £35.99

Hepple Gin – £38.00

Should you feel the need to provide something a tad more vinous in substance, might we suggest one or both of the wines we are opening this weekend?

Domaine Alexandre Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2016 – £19.99 – this 13 hectare property is in the small village of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne just north of Chablis.  This Cuvée is from the estates oldest vines, around 60 years old and planted by the current winemaker’s grandfather.  It is an excellent, elegant Chablis with a nice richness from the old vines and a good, lean minerality and Mum thinks it would go very nicely with that smoked salmon you’re bringing round.

Vivir Sin Dormir Monastrell Barrica 2016 – £12.99 – this wine arrived back on our shelves this week and we couldn’t resist laying it on thick for Mother’s Day.  You may have translated it already but if not, the name of the wine is ‘live without sleep’.  As any parent will tell you, the key to successfully managing to be a parent whilst also actually trying to be something else apart from being a parent, relies solely on sacrificing bedrest.  So this is the perfect gift for your mum to acknowledge  all those sleepless nights plus it’s delicious.  Velvety dark blackberry fruits, with silky tannins that provide a framework for the medium to full bodied character of the wine – very classy, just like your Mum!

And that’s how we write a blog.

Snow’s gone, March marches on, what have you bought for Mum?

That’s all from us, have a great week, see you soon!

Wayne & Alex