Archive for the ‘general’ Category

International Feasting

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

In the news this week, the Withdrawal Agreement has passed into law, China has five cities with travel restrictions to contain a new virus, Trump is still being impeached, there’s been an earthquake on Teeside and Bercow has been accused of bullying again.

It would appear that once again our invite to Davos got lost in the post, we’ve both been chomping at the bit to go to there and listen to billionaires telling millionaires what sacrifices the world’s poor need to make to halt global warming. Realistically, Alex was more interested in the skiing and Wayne had heard the wine at the dinners was rather good. As you can imagine, we’ve looked elsewhere for inspiration this week and can only hope they don’t forget us next year!

It looks to me like a weekend of feasting lies ahead of us for those who’d like to join in.

In 1801 a group of merchants in Greenock formed the first Burns Club (still going to this day!). Despite what you might think, it had nothing to do with fire insurance rather than some of them knew the Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Thinking it was his birthday, they held their first Burn’s Supper on January 29th 1802. The following year, somebody had the wherewithal to check the parish records and discover he was born on January 25th and the rest, as they say, is history.

We both tend to get a bit involved in this each year, not for the reciting of the poetry, rather a fondness of haggis, and it’s the one time of year you can easily find it in these parts. Alex takes his in the traditional manner, with a dram or two of whisky alongside the ‘Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race’ whilst Wayne tends to go with a glass of red wine.

We’re suggesting Mary Queen of Scots (£35) a blend of twelve premium single malts at 12 years of age representing the number of years she was on the throne. The whisky is lovely and complex and good value.  Otherwise, a natty combination of Wayne’s red wine and Alex’s whisky would be the Benromach Sassacaia Wood Finish (£48), a whisky aged for two years in red wine barrels.

For those of you less enamoured with haggis but still keen for a spot of feasting, Saturday 25th January is also the Chinese New Year, with 2020 bringing the Year of the Rat. For the superstitious amongst you things to avoid on Saturday include washing clothes, using scissors and sweeping floors. A year of bad luck cannily avoided, rats are seen as a sign of wealth and surplus, as well as fertility.  London hosts the largest Chinese New Year parades outside of Asia, so do pop along to Trafalgar Square where it all starts at around 10am. Foods to feast upon include steamed fish, dumplings, spring rolls and sweet rice balls. As a wine partner we’re thinking a Riesling so why not Hugel Classic Riesling (£17.99) with its classic fruit character and dry finish. Otherwise Deep Roots Riesling (£12.99) might work if you’re heading for something a little spicier, it’s slightly fruitier style might just tantalise the taste buds a little better.

If Scotland and China have not flipped open your feasting follicles how about something from a bit further south. Sunday 26th January is Australia Day and, in true Aussie style, there are many ways to celebrate, from the 39th Annual Cockroach race at the Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane, an enormous firework display in Perth with 300,000 people expected, or a Lamington eating competition at Suttons Beach in Redcliffe.  We think we can make a strong argument for popping your fleece on and getting the barbecue going Sunday afternoon, maybe some burgers with beetroot for an Aussie twist, or butterfly that leg of lamb and cook over the charcoal whilst the potatoes roast in the oven. For this we’d like to suggest  Flametree Shiraz (£18.99) it’s from a couple of hours further south of the big firework display at Perth and will be very tasty whether you brave the barbecue or not.

Then, for something completely different, we have egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam; or lobster thermidor aux crevettes, with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, brandy and a fried egg on top and spam…

Diary Notes

Tuesday 28th January – We’ll be opening later as we have a delivery to do in town. We hope to be back by 3pm.

Monday 3rd Feb Tuesday 4th Feb – We’ll be closed as we’re going to see the folks at Hepple in naughty Northumberland.

Thursday 13th February – The years first Cheese & Wine Tasting here at the shop at 8pm. Cost is still £20 per person. Don’t be a cheese dodger!

On the tasting table

It would seem appropriate to have open some of those we have mentioned above, so we will have open:

  • Mary Queen of Scots (£35)
  • Benromach Sassacaia Wood Finish (£48)
  • Deep Roots Riesling (£12.99)
  • Flametree Shiraz (£18.99)

Something for everyone there I think – now, I don’t know about you but all this talk of feasting has me reaching for a wafer thin mint…

With apologies for brevity

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

You can imagine my surprise, at 5.30 yesterday evening, when it dawned on me that it was my turn to write the weekly email. So, please accept my apologies in advance for any contradictory notions, poor grammar, punctuation errors or missed news snippets.

It seems Trumpolina’s impeachment trial has started, though we doubt much will happen as, in Nancy Pelosi’s words, “I don’t know who is the puppet – Trump or the Attorney General.” I’m sure its coincidental timing but it seems a trade deal has been agreed with China too!

In unrelated news, President Putin had a reshuffle. It seems all of the government ministers were invited to a surprise meeting where they were told they were resigning from their jobs. I would have thought that was being sacked myself but then I’ve not read the non-disclosure agreements. A reshuffle to one person is a power grab to another. You can, of course, make up your own minds.

Elsewhere, the race to take over from Oh Jeremy Corbyn seems to be hotting up. Rebecca Long-Bailey might be in the lead it seems but there’s still time for that to change and my sources say that Lisa Nandy was excellent in the Andrew Neil interview.

The government seems to have got itself into a bit of a spot this week, allowing Flybe to put off paying its flight tax so that it doesn’t go bust. Now, I’m no business adviser or McKinsey consultant but even I can see that if your business model doesn’t work because of the tax you have to pay, getting a deferment fixes nothing with that model. That said, I’m not sure how comfortable I feel in the company of Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh. Perhaps I should see if retailers can get a ‘holiday’ on our VAT too – why should struggling airlines get advantages over struggling retailers?

Surely the most ridiculous use of column inches this week was the ding dong over Big Ben ringing on 31 January. If I’m honest I thought it was a p*** take when I first read the story, Mark Francois winding someone up, then I saw it again on the news and everyone seemed to be rather angry about things. Radio 4 even had a vicar on asking him if he was going to be ringing the church bells. It seems to us that some people have too much time on their hands! Funnily enough, Alex has just mentioned hearing a similar discussion on why Big Ben was all covered up in scaffolding. We’ve all assumed it’s for restoration but what if they’re turning it digital, displaying the time in all the countries we’ve negotiated a trade deal with?

Cheese and Wine Tasting – Still at 2015 prices!!!!!

First date of the new season – come and join us on Thursday 13 February at 8pm. It’s the Thursday before half term and the night before San Valentino so it usually fills up quick so give us a call or drop us a line to book your place. £20 per person as usual. 

Tasting This Weekend

We’re populating the red chair with Campos de Luz Garnacha 2017 (£10.49). We find it sits comfortably in the glass and is sociable with all manner of foods and binge watched mini-series. Come and taste the old vine deliciousness for yourself.

On the white leather sofa you will find Accomplice Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (£9.39). It is crisp and versatile, with lovely fresh fruit character and a friendly finish.

So with apologies for brevity (plus side our VAT return is all sorted now!) we raise a glass and say CHEERS!

Welcome to Rantuary

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, it didn’t take long for life to get back to normal did it? 

One minute we’re fending off mince pies and glasses of Pedro Ximenez; it seems just moments later that we’re singing Auld Lang Syne and wondering where we left our Champagne glass and then, ka-boom, it’s the 3rd day of 2020 and Il Donaldo is trying to start World War III, which would definitely be the last in the trilogy, with little prospect of any of us making it through to the final credits.  Thus he wished us all a very Happy New Year reminding us that it’s an election year and that the best distraction from domestic strife is a good dose of aggressive foreign policy – oorah!

Boris returned from channelling his inner Princess Margaret in Mustique – images of the tousled toff sporting a floaty kaftan and Bakelite cigarette holder were too much even for the most prying paparazzo it would seem – and he is back in the driving seat. By all accounts phone reception is terrible in that part of the West Indies so despite relevant vicinity of Mar-a-Lago, Donald was unable to let Boris know what he was up to in the Middle East…

Anyway Boris didn’t need such distractions since he has now got to ‘get Brexit done’ although I imagine he hasn’t a far more erudite way of expressing this.  We await, with bated breath, the next stage in this drama – 31st January is the new date of significance for our diaries, I believe?

Yesterday the tabloids erupted in mutual despair, panic and vitriol at the announcement that a Ginger Prince and his wife, a successful actress, might want to live outside the bubble that is the British Royal Family.  Instead they want to live in a different bubble, in Canada or Hollywood perhaps, and thus will be harder to pry on.  Shameful.  And this comes just weeks after the other Ginger Prince announced he was going to take ‘a breather to travel, write, and read. I’ll be off social media until it’s time to come back.’

Question – has anyone ever seen Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran in the same room at the same time?  Just saying…

From a more local viewpoint, it’s January, it’s damp whilst people are trying to stay dry and the Coop is full of ‘fake beef’ burgers.  Yep, it’s time for our annual Rantuary – a time for us to be incredulous at almost everything that’s going on in the world, to be disappointed and frustrated to the same degree as we are for the rest of the year but at least this month it has a nametag, it has a purpose and we might perhaps even blag someone to sponsor us!

We seem to have heard less about dry January thus far but we do seem to be hearing an awful lot more about not eating meat.  Great for us – for a change, we purveyors of fine beverages are not getting it in the neck from the same journalists who couldn’t get enough fine beverage down their necks 10 days ago and instead it’s the cows and sheep who are feeling the sharp stick this month.  Goats would be in trouble too, if anyone in England knowingly ate much of their meat but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, the cows and sheep are still digesting too much and filling the world with methane, so we need to stop eating them.  But just for a month?  Surely if we don’t eat them, they’re far more likely to carry on producing methane… I know I’m being fatuous but what are we actually going to do with all these extra animals if we stop eating them?  The world is already overpopulated, we’re told, and if we’re going to have to start fighting for a parking space at Sainsbury’s with Peppa Pig and Larry the Lamb, fighting for the last bag of sprouts and the last sliced loaf, where does that really leave us – perhaps I get the sprouts and Peppa eats Larry?  How does that fit in with the not eating animals thing?  Can cats still eat mice or do they now have to eat rice.  No, they can’t because, we can’t eat rice.  Rice paddy fields, manmade wetlands, methane producers extraordinaire – sadly I don’t think seaweed is a cure this time.  So, we can’t eat meat and we can’t now eat rice.  Let’s eat cheese?  Oh no, can’t do that, long standing research from every ski resort ever indicates that excessive ingestion of Raclette and three cheese fondue can result in indigestion and a notable increase in gases that remind one of a greenhouse.  And then I go home to my vegan supper of lentils and sweet potato and realise that it’s been cooked using fossil fuels and more significantly, as my wife cooked this, I have enslaved another animal to produce my food – by far the easiest part of Veganuary is not eating the meat!

So, with apologies, I am not going vegan or dry this month and, since Wayne has just said, in his wisdom, ‘Alex. Leave it!’ I will do just that – welcome to Rantuary!

Wayne’s wisdom doesn’t end here though of course.  As he sagely pointed out to a customer who was threatening an abstemious month the other day, ‘we can cater very well for Dry January – we have dry whites, dry reds, dry Gin and even dried meat!’, at which point he rested his case and the customer left the shop….

With a potential sale lost, it was now up to him to come up with a mechanic that would jump start sales in this month leading up to the divorce from Europe.  So, using the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, he came up with this:

SIX BOTTLES OF WINE FOR THE PRICE OF FIVE!

Those of you with fabulous memories may recognise the fact that we may well have done this before, in 2012.  And 2013.  And 2014.  And, well yes, every year since.  But it works – it works for you, it works for us and, in a backhanded fashion, it works for the taxman who wants his cut at the end of the month too….

So don’t be slow, we’ve attached a list of what we have in stock for your perusal, the deal can be mixed too, so frankly, what are we all waiting for?

Tasting this weekend

To help you towards the half dozen we’ll open a couple of bottles of easy drinking Italians this weekend:

Madregale Bianco 2018 – £8.99 – We love the whites of Abruzzo and this is soft and fruity with a crisp dry finish – Chardonnay blended with Trebbiano make it all about richness without becoming too unctuous or overbearing.  Would work a treat with smoked salmon, or chicken Caesar salad, and beyond food – a perfect aperitif!

Madregale Rosso 2018 – £8.99 – This blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese is a prime example of the enormous strides forward that have been made in terms of quality and tastiness in Abruzzo.  The soft earthy rusticity of the Montepulciano combines nicely with the slightly fresher, more elegant Sangiovese.  Perhaps not a wine to ponder, it is pitch perfect with a tomato based pasta!

So that’s it from us – first email of the decade, only another 520 odd to write until 2030 – things can only get better!

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And so it comes to pass.  Last missive of December, last missive of the year, last missive of the decade even and then it’s all over.

-What?  Over?  Did you say “over”?  Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

-Germans?

– Forget it, he’s rolling.

-And it ain’t over now.  ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough… (thinks hard of something to say) The tough get goin’!  Who’s with me?  Let’s go! (Bluto runs out, alone, to his local independent wine merchant….)

With apologies to John Belushi, however he was right, it’s not over.  Today is Friday 20th December, still 11 days left until the New Decade (having read POTUS letter to Nancy Pelosi, we’ve decided that indiscriminate use of cApiTals is the way forwards) and more importantly, 5 shopping days left until Christmas, including today.  It’s nowhere near over.

Courtesy of our researchers we also learnt that today, 20th December, is International Human Solidarity Day. 

International Human Solidarity Day is a day of action, led by the UN General Assembly, to encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication through the promotion of the culture of solidarity and the spirit of sharing.  It’s a timely reminder for us that what we do here, selling wine and talking a lot, actually isn’t at all important in the whole grand scheme of things and an occasional reminder does us no harm.

It seems charmingly appropriate that we also celebrate Billy Bragg’s birthday today and bonkers that Uri Geller, fresh from giving Boris a spoon “energised” with “mind positivity” to help him win the election, is now 73 years old!

As it seems likely that we will be continuing with Wayne’s Wet Weather for some time hence, we’ve decided to cut back on our rosé stocks for now and focus more on hearty reds and festive fizz.  With this in mind this weekend we will have open on the tasting table a panoply of delights for your delectation and degustation:

  • Lété-Vautrain Brut 204 – Champagne – £29.99 – 3 for £75
  • Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2018 – Very Fancy Italian White – £19.99
  • Château Roland La Garde 1998 – Nicely Aged Claret – £30
  • Château Lamourette 2010 – Sweet Treat Sauternes – £16.99
  • Krohn Colheita 1999 – Posh Tawny Port – £34.99
  • Taylors 1985 – Really Posh Port – £85
  • King’ s Ginger – Real Royal Liqueur – £23.99
  • Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur – If Mince Pies Were A Drink – £20
  • Foxdenton Sloe Gin – The Classic – £24.99
  • Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin – The Pink – £14.99
  • Eclectic – The House Gin – £35
  • Hepple – Alex’s Favourite Gin – £38
  • Renegade – Battersea Park Hand Crafted Gin – £38
  • Bloody Bens – Garratt Lane Gin – £38
  • Fabuloso – Alex’s Dad’s Favourite Spanish Brandy – £20
  • Delamain XO – Wayne’s Cognac – £97
  • Saliza Amaretto – Proper Kit – £27.99
  • Kummel – For The Golfers – £20.99
  • Berto Bitter – Not Campari or Aperol, In The Middle Somewhere – £21.49
  • Evan Williams – The Best Black Label Whisky from the USA – £31.50
  • Blanton’ s – The Original Single Barrel Bourbon – £57.99
  • Benromach 10 year old – Speyside Charmer – £40
  • Benromach 15 year old – Its Elder Brother – £60
  • Benromach 2011 – Finished in Sassicaia Barrels – £48
  • Bunnahabhain 11 year old – From a Sherry Cask – £50
  • Caol Ila 13 year old – Peaty… – £50
  • Finlaggan – Smoky Islay – £36
  • Ledaig 12 year old – From Mull, Proper Bonfire Business – £50
  • Mary Queen Of Scots – Blend of Twelve 12 year old Single Malts – £35
  • Strathmill 2002 – From Keith…. – £50
  • Mince Pies
  • Quality Street
  • Celebrations

That’s over 30 different tipples to taste – if you try them all and that’s still not enough, we’ll buy you a beer!

What?  Over?  Did you say “over”?

I know we told you last time but here is a reminder of our opening hours over the next two weeks:

SATURDAY 21st DECEMBER                                              10AM – 8PM

SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER                                                 11AM – 3PM

MONDAY 23rd DECEMBER                                                            11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 24th DECEMBER                                                            10AM – 5PM

WEDNESDAY 25th – FRIDAY 27th DECEMBER               CLOSED

SATURDAY 28th DECEMBER                                             12PM – 6PM

SUNDAY 29th DECEMBER                                                 CLOSED

MONDAY 30th DECEMBER                                                            11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 31st DECEMBER                                                 11AM – 6PM

WEDNESDAY 1st – MONDAY 6th JANUARY                     CLOSED

TUESDAY 7th JANUARY – BACK TO NORMAL                11AM – 8PM

What more to add?  Trump will face the senate, Boris picks up where he left off, Ben Stokes becomes SPOTY and Tottenham just pip Arsenal in the Overall Premier League Table of the Decade on points per game – 0.002 points to be exact.  Close, Wayne, but you know that saying about cigars….

And now it is over.  Have a very Merry Christmas, a joyous New Year and don’t be tempted to give up for January!!

Over and out!

On the first day of Christmas

Friday, December 13th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, I’m not sure if that has solved much but quite a few things will change.

The most important General Election in our lifetime has involved lying, misleading adverts, graphs and polls and, to cap it all, a Prime Minister hiding in a fridge to avoid scrutiny. These things, it would appear, are the secret to a landslide.

I looked up Integrity in the Cambridge Dictionary: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change: “No one doubted that the president was a man of the highest integrity.”

someone’s high artistic standards or standards of doing their job, and that person’s determination not to lower those standards: “Keen to preserve his artistic integrity, he refused several lucrative Hollywood offers.”

Let’s hope we now discover some, eh?

In the meantime, life moves on regardless and, at the risk of creating minor panic, in just 12 days it’s Christmas. The turkey will be going in the oven, you’ll have stood on numerous bits of Lego and be wondering if it’s too soon to open that second bottle of champagne: I’d say go ahead, it’d be rude not too.

At this stage I might just invoke a song about Christmas that seems appropriate (with apologies to Frederic Austin)…

On the first day of Christmas my True Love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree

We’d put a Faiveley Mercurey 1er Cru Clos des Myglands (£29.99) with the partridge.

On the second day of Christmas my True Love sent to me two turtle doves

We’ll go with Sylvain Dussort’s Meursault-like Cuvée des Ormes 2016 (£21.99) for the doves.

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me three French hens

We’re suspecting the JP Moueix Saint-Emilion 2015 (Magnum £46) will be just the ticket, let’s face it, three hens needs more than a bottle.

At the risk of labouring a point, we’re of the opinion that if the Ladies are to be dancing and the Lords leaping, you may want to enjoy our Six Bottles of Bollinger for £210 offer.

That’s enough singing for one Friday and if you’d heard me sing, it’d definitely be more than enough.

We’ve been discussing the merits of seasonal special sandwiches and plan to trial a couple over the next week, any top tips greatly received.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll be opening Hawkins Bros Brut Reserve (£30each or 3 for £75), a cracking English sparkling wine made at Greyfriars Vineyard near Guildford. A classic cuvée, based on vintage 2014, made and grown on the Hogs Back in Surrey.  This is a blend of 56% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier and has spent over three years ageing on its lees.

We’ll open Sylvain Dussort’s Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée des Ormes 2016 (£21.99) mentioned above. A classic white burgundy which is, in fact, the estate’s flagship wine.  The grapes are hand-harvested from vines from 35 to over 60 years and the wine is aged for 12 months in barrels on the lees.  The wine is racked off once and assembled in a single vat before bottling. This takes place at between 16 and 18 months, depending on the vintage. Delicate, rich and elegant, with good length, we reckon in a blind tasting it would easily be mistaken for a Meursault and this was awesome value for money.

The red corner will be ably represented by Domaine Billard ‘Les Bons Feuvres’ Beaune 2017 (£24.99) Domaine Billard has approximately 12.5 hectares of vineyards in different appellations throughout the Côtes de Beaune.  The domaine passed from father to son recently and Jérôme Billard has brought a new philosophy to the domaine where all the farming is done with respect for nature and follows organic principles.  Previously, Jérôme’s father sold his wine to the local cooperative but Jérôme is now estate bottling his entire production and why wouldn’t he be proud to put his name on this wine?  Lush and juicy with bright cherry and black berry fruits, lovely fine tannins and a smooth finish. 

And if that doesn’t tantalise those taste buds, we have got Gin, Whisky, Vodka and of course the Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur all open and awaiting your attention.

Christmas Opening Hours – This is when we’re here and when we’re not.

MONDAY 16th – FRIDAY 20th DECEMBER         11AM – 8PM

SATURDAY 21st DECEMBER                                  10AM – 8PM

SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER                                          11AM – 3PM

MONDAY 23rd DECEMBER                                                11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 24th DECEMBER                                                10AM – 5PM

WEDNESDAY 25th – FRIDAY 27th DECEMBER   CLOSED

SATURDAY 28th DECEMBER                                 12PM – 6PM

SUNDAY 29th DECEMBER                                                 CLOSED

MONDAY 30th DECEMBER                                                 11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 31st DECEMBER                                                 11AM – 6PM

WEDNESDAY 1st – MONDAY 6th JANUARY         CLOSED

TUESDAY 7th JANUARY – BACK TO NORMAL – 11AM – 8PM

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Election Special!

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Less than a week to go, who will be in the hot-seat come Friday the 13th?

Will it be Graham Hadley, the Independent candidate and the man behind the Mary Queen of Scots whisky we sell? 

Will it be Stephen Hammond, our Conservative incumbent for the last 14 years and ex-National League hockey player? 

Or perhaps we will see Paul Kohler, of the Liberal Democrats/Unite to Remain side of business, living up to the promise they were showing in mid-November when they trailed the Tories by 2 points, or has Jo Swinson damaged the brand too much? 

Or will Jackie Schneider, for Labour, become the first female Wimbledon MP?

Or perhaps this new local super hero is Sarge? No! Or Rosemary the telephone operator?  No way man!  Perhaps then, Henry the mild mannered janitor?

So far as Park Vintners is concerned, we would quite happily see Penrod Pooch elected if it could guarantee that everyone carries on buying champagne and Christmas drinks rather than booking a one way ticket out of here!

Elsewhere in the world of politics the world’s most sensitive bully, Mr Trump, got a bat up his nightdress when other world leaders were seen talking about him ‘behind his back’.  Let’s be honest, Donald, you love it that people are talking about you, it empowers you and massages your fragile ego.  Plus, they were talking about you being 45 minutes late having called an impromptu press conference – if you hadn’t done this there would have been no gossiping!  The final touch for us though was the fact that the Conservatives were noticeably delighted that DT cancelled his next ‘meet the press’, so concerned were they that he might damage Mr Johnson’s election campaign – a ringing endorsement of how they really view the POTUS….

Less than a week to go, who will be in the hot-seat come Friday the 20th?

We will be.  The last Friday before Christmas, we fully expect the grill to be turned up to max as we begin the final buying weekend and with it the start of the exodus, which this year we feel could be spread over 4 days, especially if you’re travelling on South Western trains!  Anyway, the point to all this is that if you know you want by some treats for Christmas, you don’t necessarily need to wait until that weekend – we’ve got a lot of stock in here already, our Christmas cases will be ready from Monday and, frankly, right now we have more stock and more time to ensure you get exactly what you would like – which can’t be guaranteed in two weeks’ time.

Some of you have already started shopping, and we appreciate that.  We’ve already had enquiries as to whether we sell mini bottles of Babycham, Buckfast Tonic Wine and various super-sweet, super-confected spirits – we’re sending all these enquiries up to the shops in the village, through sheer devilment!

And no, funnily enough, we don’t sell wine in cans, despite the fact that a recent survey in the US by WiC Research revealed that 37.2% of participants said they preferred rosé wine from a can, compared to 31.4% who said the bottled version tasted better!  All those years of drinking cans of coke have obviously taken their toll….

In sport we saw the Mourinho spell come unbound in Manchester – he must have been spewing, no matter what he claims otherwise, although when he wins the Champions League with his third different club we may well eat our chapéus!  In cricket we watched as England brought village cricket to the international stage, helped massively by Joe Denly, with crowds to match those seen at Hadlow on a good day.  We also lost, suddenly for us, Bob Willis on Tuesday, a local resident and perhaps most famouls captain of England during the 1981 Ashes victory.  RIP, sir.

Christmas

For a variety of reasons, Christmas doesn’t ever really start until this weekend here at Park Vintners.  We held the last two tastings of the year this week and until they are out of the way we can’t really decorate, as we have to move stock around all the time.  But now that’s done and we can steam towards the 25th.  This weekend sees Alex at the Wimbledon High School Christmas Fair on Saturday and the Wimbledon Park Primary School event on Sunday.  He’s being a bit imprecise over the timings but I do know they both take place over lunchtime, should you be interested in visiting either.

Monday will see us decorating the windows, buying new lights no doubt and generally filling up the shelves and floor with the good stuff.  As mentioned above, we will also be launching our Christmas selections, which will be three different 6 bottle selections – one mixed selection for £60, one mixed selection for £100 and a Red Bordeaux selection for  £115 (£120 with a gift box).  Notes attached…

Tasting this weekend

As I don’t pretend to have any control over Alex once he is off-site, I can imagine he will be tasting Champagne, a red, a white, a sweetie and undoubtedly an array of spirits…. Here in the shop though I do know that we will be opening a fizz, a red, a white and hopefully a port!

We both have the same ‘go to’ Fizz Friday bottle of bubbles which is the Leveret IQ Brut NV – £15.99 – This is champagne in all but name really, being a blend of the usual suspects, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay but grown instead in New Zealand.  Crisp and dry with a fine mousse, it’s exactly the sort of bubbly for any occasion, birthdays, christenings, weddings, parties or just Friday night fish and chips!

A new white in the stable is the Domaine Jouan Menetou Salon 2018 – £15.99 which we are very pleased with.  This is the fourth generation of the family to run this estate and experience certainly shows.  This has the quality and elegance of a Sancerre but without the price tag.  A fabulous all-rounder – did I mention that we are very pleased with it?

In the red, we will open another old favourite – Lopez de Haro Gran Reserva 2010 – £21.00.  After conducting extensive tastings, our in-house team (Alex and I, sacrificing ourselves again!) decided this silky little should be our main GR Rioja.  A blend of Tempranillo and Graciano aged for 30 months in oak barrels, it has complex berry, coffee and vanilla notes and a lovely velvety finish.

Now the port should be a bit of a treat….Taylors 1985 – £85 part of the last shipment from Taylors cellars, where there is no more left so when it’s gone…we’ve put it in the eto so it lasts long enough for you all to have a taste before Wayne guzzles the lot!

Here’s what Will Lyons of the Sunday Times had to say about it in 2015… “This vintage port, described as the Latour of Portugal, is just starting to reach its drinking window. Mid ruby in colour, it has an evocative fragrance of wood smoke, cassis and spice. Soft and silky in the mouth, nevertheless once swallowed it has a powerful kick and leaves a sensation on the tongue of tingling freshness.”

And with that we’re gone. Do come see us at the Shop, at Wimbledon High or Wimbledon Park Primary!

Christmas Spiced Gin, Happy Birthday

Friday, November 29th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Wey hey here we are, happy Friday to you all. Nothing in the news much to write about in the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has declared that nobodies numbers add up, but is anyone surprised? With two weeks still to go till the election we’re expecting the promise of pet Unicorns for all children and free glitter to feed them with. Not to mention shorter working hours, free bicycles and more sunshine. However we digress….

Park Vintners is celebrating a birthday this weekend, we are nine years old now, halfway to being old enough to have a drink! It seems a long while ago that we opened with snow on the ground and a curious public wondering what had happened to turn that empty shop into a wine shop.  Now we’re not at all sure where the time has gone, it seems to have whizzed past us. We appear to have consumed rather a lot of cheese, with last night being our 75th Cheese & Wine tasting.  Between you and I that’s a lot of strange dreams we’ve had. Thanks to all of you have joined in the fun, more dates for 2020 to come.

As luck would have it our birthday once again ties in with the turning on of the Christmas lights at Christ the King at 4.15. The Mayor of Merton will be performing the ceremony and there will also be carol singing.  I suspect a taste of Foxdenton Christmas Spiced Gin (£20) might be just the ticket to revitalise those vocal chords.

A few of you have asked if we’ll be doing our Christmas cases this year. The answer is of course yes and we will bring them out next week. We’re just dotting eyes, crossing the t’s and making sure the wine is in the building.

Whilst I’m on the subject here are our opening hours for the season.

CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS

MONDAY 16th – FRIDAY 20th DECEMBER 11AM – 8PM

SATURDAY 21st DECEMBER 10AM – 8PM

SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER 11AM – 3PM

MONDAY 23rd DECEMBER 11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 24th DECEMBER 10AM – 5PM

WEDNESDAY 25th – FRIDAY 27th DECEMBER CLOSED

SATURDAY 28th DECEMBER 12PM – 6PM

SUNDAY 29th DECEMBER CLOSED

MONDAY 30th DECEMBER 11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 31st DECEMBER 11AM – 6PM

WEDNESDAY 1st – MONDAY 6th JANUARY CLOSED

TUESDAY 7th JANUARY – BACK TO NORMAL – 11AM – 8PM

It is St Andrews day on Saturday too, I feel we can’t let it pass without mentioning that our annual allocation of Japanese Whisky seems to be leaving the building with a bit of a swagger in its step. There are of course some great whiskies from Scotland too, one I would mention is the Benromach Sassicaia Wood Finish (£48) a stunning drop that has spent two years lazing around in barrels recently vacated by tip top super Tuscan wine Sassicaia (clue in the name perhaps).

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start off the celebratory season with a soupçon of Lété-Vautrain Brut 204 (£29.99) a small producer we discovered earlier in the year, who is making great champagne.  A blend of Meunier, Pinot noir and Chardonnay it is just perfect for aperitiffing, partying and celebrations.

The white gloves will be sported by Pulenta Estate Pinot Gris (£13.99) a cracking example grown at 980m altitude in Agrelo, Mendoza it is crisp and dry with an almost Alsace like richness to it.

Sporting the red scarf will be Sylvain Dussort’s Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2016 (£20.99) a deliciously juicy Burgundy that might feature as an early call for the Christmas table, but if not definitely a wow with all the game birds that are in the butchers at the moment. Come in and see us, have a taste and we’ll take it from there.

Pulenta Estate

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Going to avoid politics this week, for the UK at least, which is easy because all sorts of fun and games have been going on away from Downing Street and Westminster.

Two sackings this week but only one appointment

To use his other nickname, Air Miles Andy was given the Spanish Archer by her Maj and not before time it would seem.  He doesn’t, drink, doesn’t smoke or do drugs but what he does do is no longer going to be suffered in silence by Elizabeth II.  Our first question was do we now get some of his travel money back?  Browsing through Wayne’s copy of Sovereign Grant Report 2018-19: Royal Travel Appendix we gulped at a couple of his trips last year:

The Duke of York – Scheduled Flight – 4th-6th April: London – Bahrain – London

Official FCO visit to Bahrain to open the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain and visits to British University of Bahrain and Fintech Bay.  Visit and attend Award Ceremony for Huddersfield University’s programme with Bahrain Ministry of Interior.

£16,272

Scheduled Flight – 21st-22nd August & 9th-12th September: London – Budapest – London

Staff planning visit and staff advance trip.

The Duke of York – Charter – 10th-12th September: Farnborough – Budapest – Aberdeen

Official FCO visit to Hungary. Meetings with the President, Prime Minister of Hungary and Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Attend a British Community Reception at the Residence and Dinner with British and Hungarian business leaders.  Visits to Hungarian Academy of Science, National University of Public Service and an Inclusive /Paralympic sports training facility.

£22,208

£38 grand – bearing in mind he was being wined and dined and probably provided a pillow and a bidet for the night, it seems an awful lot of money that we can now spend more usefully elsewhere, hopefully?  Oh no, it’s already been re-distributed apparently….

The other sacking also involves money but certainly not the saving of it.  Jose Mourinho has returned to football, replacing Mauricio Pochettino but for twice the price.  Bearing in mind that Daniel Levy spent a whole year not giving Poch any money to buy players, he clearly believes the special one’s hype – will he last the season?  They’ve not published the odds yet…

Other news

In other sport, the cricket started in New Zealand on Wednesday evening and boy did the weather look nice, everyone sitting on the grass, catching some rays, just minutes from the surf… a nice bit of chilly evening escapism, if you can get it!

Trump still faces impeachment, perhaps, and Netanyahu is being charged with corruption – two charmers who are probably overdue a day in court.

More locally we have had some very exciting wine news – I’ll leave it to Nina and Edu to explain:

The Pulenta Family is delighted to be sponsoring Wimbledon Hockey Club. 

We feel that we share many of the traits that have made the club so successful over the years: dedication, hard work, no little skill and perhaps most of all, loving what we do.

We are a family owned winery with vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina and we have been making top quality wines since 1912. 

We plan to hold a number of tastings and events during the season to give you an opportunity to taste and enjoy our wines.  Look out for news!

And now the exciting bit:

In the meantime, we have partnered with our friends Wayne and Alex who run Park Vintners in Wimbledon Park to offer all members and friends of Wimbledon Hockey Club a 10% discount on our wines for the duration of the 2019/20 season.

You can email them shop@parkvintners.co.uk, call 020 8944 5224 or pop in to their shop on Arthur Road, Wimbledon Park.

Have a great season!

Nina & Edu Pulenta

As I said, very exciting.  If you’re a member of the mighty Wimbledon Hockey Club then you already know about this and can participate (not you Joe, you’re only 15) but even if you’re not a member you can benefit from the fact that we now have the majority of the Pulenta range in stock:

White

Estate Pinot Gris 2017 – £13.99

Estate Chardonnay 2016/18 – £14.99

Red

La Flor Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – £15.69

La Flor Malbec 2018 – £15.69

Estate Malbec 2016 – £22.99

Gran Malbec 2015 – £36.99

Gran Corte 2016 – £37.99

And they’re all blooming delicious, come and see for yourself!

Final Wine & Cheese Tasting for 2019

That probably says it all.  It’s the best four cheeses from the year, the best wines from the year – who will be pronounced the Homecoming King & Queen for 2019 we wonder?  7 of you will definitely find out but we do have space for 5 more of you – come on, you know you want to be a part of history in the making!

Thursday 28th November – 8pm – £20 per person – call us on 020 8944 5224 or respond to this email.  Or go old school and pop your head round the door!

One week to go…

Next Thursday, the USA and its citizens around  the world celebrate the annual day of Thanksgiving.  Better known as Black Friday Eve, this day is commonly celebrated with family gatherings, turkey cooking and over consumption of sweet and sticky things – very similar in fact to the traditional Boxing Day Sales Eve that we commonly celebrate here on December 25th.

Anyway, historically Black Friday Eve has also involved the consumption of wine, notably wine from America and with this in mind we have decided to open a couple of our new listings from the Vina Robles winery in Paso Robles, California.

How a civil engineer from Zurich ended up with a wine estate in California is a story for another time I think… In the white top hat we have his 2018 Viognier – £19.99.  This Viognier is planted in the highest part of the Huerhuero Vineyard benefitting from the cooling afternoon pacific breeze.  Crisp and medium-bodied with peach and mandarin fruit with a long lively finish – really rather fabulous.

In the red stripy trousers we have the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – £24.99.  Classic Cali Cab Sauv – full bodied with cassis and black cherry fruits, ripe textured tannins and a touch of anise and chocolate in the finish – a delight!

That’s it for us pretty much – Christ the King have their annual Christmas fair this weekend so do pop in and see us on the way there or back!

Bon Weekend!

It’s that time of year…

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s that time of year…

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

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

Champagne

Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee NV – £70.00

Champagne Moutard Prestige Rose NV – £75.00

White

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018, New Zealand – £41.00 

Red

Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza 2016, Spain – £25.00

Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2015, Languedoc – £27.99

Meerlust Red 2014, South Africa – £29.99

Filus Malbec 2016, Argentina – £32.00

La Cote Sauvage Cairanne 2016, Rhone – £34.00

Chateau La Grave 2016 Medoc, Bordeaux – £38.00

JP Moueix St Émilion 2015, Bordeaux – £46.00

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

Tahi 2010, Roussillon – £50.00

Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2009, Spain – £52.00

Meerlust Rubicon 2014, South Africa – £58.00

Tasting This Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

New In!

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRANCE

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

Burgundy – Domaine Fournillon Chablis 2016 – £16.99

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

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

ITALY

Abruzzo – Collequieto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 – £10.99

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

SPAIN

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

Priorat – Marco Abella Mas Mallola 2015 – £27.99

USA   

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

SPIRITS

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

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

And then we went to Scotland.       

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

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

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

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

TASTING THIS WEEKEND

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

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