Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Alex is back, Reading and Negotiation

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, another watershed weekend is upon us. 

As the summer holidays stumble to a close, we have the last Bank Holiday of the year until Christmas and, by all accounts, it’s going to be a stonker.  3pm on Saturday afternoon we have forecast of 29 degrees here in town, 26 degrees down in the southwest and even 23 up in Northumberland; southern Spain will be 27 Celsius so, frankly, you might as well save your air-miles, and the planet at the same time, and just set up a gazebo on the common.

Given the state of play over the last few weeks it didn’t seem possible that it could get even quieter here in Wimbledon Park but quieter it has definitely got and it would be fair to say we are starting to become very envious of anyone who is able to work from home/work remotely.  One of our friends has been happily sending snaps of the view from his Greek island hideout, with his computer in the foreground and the caption ‘today’s office!’  – since we have but the view of Melrose Avenue from the shop and never have the chance to work from home, his humble brags have not been received too favourably!

Has the news taken a snooze, too?  Well, Boris is taking his 15 minutes of fame very seriously, travelling Europe, talking a lot, putting his feet on the French President’s table and hopefully becoming a negotiator of the stature of a Mandela, a Kissinger or a Roosevelt rather than a Trump!

Following on swiftly from A-level results, GCSE’s came out yesterday.  This was immediately followed by the entire 16 year old population of SW19 decamping to the Reading Festival armed with supersized portable chargers, a sleeping bag, definitely no alcohol and definitely no books – no reading at Reading apparently!  The Foo Fighters are headlining on Sunday, we still remember being teenagers when Dave Grohl’s first band was in its pomp – what on earth was their name again?

Cricket continues to delight and despair us – and also scare us just a little bit too.  Funny old weather yesterday but we managed to get some wickets although it seems that the Smith replacement, Labushchagne, should possibly have been in the starting eleven anyway.  Still, as we all know by now, anything can happen in Test cricket.  Football is all over the shop with Liverpool and Arsenal the only premiership teams with a full tally of points and Chelsea just above relegation whilst Fulham seem to be loving being back in the Championship. 

And of course, as you all know, Spain’s classic cycling race, La Vuelta, starts its journey on Saturday.  They’ve got a quick stop in Benidorm on Sunday, so if that’s where you happen to be holidaying, keep your eyes open for men in lycra.  Keeping with La Vuelta, it’s nice to know that at least one Englishman will wear the red jersey this year – Chris Froome received the 2011 jersey this week after the original winner was finally disqualified for doping.  For the win this year though, Alex is wildcarding with Rigoberto Uran whilst Wayne is backing Primoz Roglic so avoid putting money on either of these two!

Elsewhere, there is still plenty of talk in the trade about younger drinkers not drinking.  As discussed previously, in a survey last year of 10,000 16-24 year olds, 29% didn’t drink at all, which is a 10% increase of non-drinkers over a decade.  However, in a bit of a blow perhaps to Seedlip and their ilk, ‘they don’t see the point in alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits, preferring a glass of water if they choose not to drink.’ Drinks Retailing News 16-08-19.  It seems that some of those surveyed, those between 16 and 18, shouldn’t be drinking anyway but that’s a conversation for another time….

The ‘good’ news is Alex is now back from his travels and Wayne can have a day off.  If you can get him to stop talking about how good the olive oil is in Jaen, how great the ham is in Salamanca and how cheap the wine is in Carrefour he might pour you a tasting sample and let you get a word in edgeways.  Five euros for a brilliant Godello, four euros for lovely Verdejo – yep, thanks mate, very interesting but you do realise you were buying these wines in the country of production, that whilst VAT in Spain is 21%, excise duty is currently nil and you haven’t even factored in transportation costs to the UK!  Of course the wine was cheaper there, you muppet – why do I have to remind you of this every time you go on holiday!?

When he does eventually pour you a glass there’ll be a choice of two, as ever.

The white will be, in fact, a rosé.  It has come to our attention that we are now here at the rear end of August and we haven’t had our best seller on tasting yet. 

So, step by and have a taste of Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2018 £14.99 (6 for £78).  This Chateau is a 400 year old vineyard in the heart of Provence.  Its red soils are rich in minerals, giving it an edge on the quality stakes amongst its neighbours.  This edge was recognised in 1955 when the estate was designated “Cru Classé”.  A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish.  We think it is the perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with the Sunday papers and a deck chair.  Oh, and it’s very suitable for vegans!

Staying in France, we will visit Beaujolais for a change and for a light red, suitable for chilling.  Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ 2018 – £10.99.  There’s been a quiet revolution going on in Beaujolais, some of the smartest burgundy winemakers have been buying up parcels of land, Co-operatives have been merging, and there has been a quality revamp too.  This wine is from the villages of Jullié and Emeringes, and grown on the sandy granitic soils that produce the best Gamay.  Tender, round and fruity as you’d expect from a pure expression of the grape variety.  Awesome with a plate of charcuterie, but actually really versatile on the food front, so do experiment!

And that’s it from us for this week.  Still got spaces on the Wine School and some of the Wine & Cheese tastings too should you fancy.  Also as a reminder, we will be shutting at 7pm tomorrow (Saturday) and will not be open again until Tuesday morning at 11am, bright and breezy and ready to serve!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine!

Dear OOOR (part II)

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Dear OOOR,

Here we are again, another week of August passed by in a whirlwind, several showers and a sunny Thursday. I discovered this week that you have a cousin OOAR – Automated Reply, who knew?  

First up, can you please pass our congratulations to everyone who received their A-level results this week. All that hard work and now the flush of excitement of something entirely new – Well done all!

Elsewhere, England harnessed the power of rain to improve their chances in the 2nd Test of The Ashes with no play whatsoever on the first day. Those refunds are going to smart!

On the political front, it is much more of the same old hubris from BoJo, the same old Jezza, despite the latest wheeze to get himself in Number 10. Win a no confidence vote, install yourself in No.10 then offer a new referendum AFTER a general election. Why not put it on the same ballot? That would at least save some taxpayers money on the organisational front. That said, his no confidence votes are like Nairo Quintana’s mountain attacks – much talked about but rarely witnessed.

The Home Office seems to think it a good idea to put warnings about carrying a knife on fried chicken boxes. Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “These chicken boxes will bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and challenge the idea that it makes you safer.” Now, I’m all for warning people about the dangers of knife crime and doing all you can to prevent it but surely I can’t be the only one that thinks this is, at best, rather stereotyping their target audience?

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. To celebrate this milestone there is an archive box set of 38 discs being released. Now, I know many of us just don’t have the time to relive the entire weekend, so it may be worth searching out a copy of the original album for a spot of nostalgia (maybe on Spotify or Deezer). Richie Havens ‘Freedom’ and the version of ‘Soul Sacrifice’ by Santana, just as they were garnering public attention, are both well worth checking out.

The only wine news of note is that a huge winery dating from the Crusades has been found under a house in Mi’ilya in northern Israel.  Thought to date from the 12th century it has two enormous treading floors for crushing grapes and could be the biggest in the Levant.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll carry on with wines from places you may spend a holiday. This week the white t-shirt will be sported by something a little special, one of our more esoteric wines. Las 30 del Cuadrado 2017 (£20.99). Hailing from Sanlucar de Barrameda, just around the corner from Cádiz on Spain’s southern coast, this is made from Palomino grapes grown on 70 year old vines. Wild fermentation on natural yeasts in old Manzanilla barrels gives this wine a really savoury character.

Meanwhile, the red swimming trunks will be worn by Cambria Benchbreak Pinot Noir 2013 (£27.49) from California’s Santa Maria Valley. It’s one of those really soft Pinot Noir’s that just scream ‘drink me’ from the moment you pour a glass.

That’s probably it from us except to say have fun to those who enquired about holiday drinking in Sardinia, the Marche and Portugal this week.

Cheers!

Dear Out Of Office Reply

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Dear OOOR,

I hope you don’t mind me using your acronym, but I feel we’ve got so close these last few days. I wanted to thank you for returning Barbara, James and Sarah to the fold, but at what cost? How many of our readers have you run off with this week?  

Will you let them know that the transfer window has slammed shut, with Arsenal getting a bargain in David Luiz, Newcastle’s medical team becoming much busier now Andy Carroll has joined and, despite much speculation, Danny Rose will be strutting his stuff on the Tottenham Broadway? Once again, Manchester United led the way as ridiculous amounts of money changed hands for players in the Premiership, whilst teams in the lower divisions are going bust. Do you think it’d make any sense for the lower leagues to get more cash and maybe act as some kind of academy process? Anyway, let them know the Premiership season starts this evening, Liverpool and Norwich first up.

Will you also tell them that the England cricket team have spent the entire week in the nets practicing defensive shots? They were definitely found wanting in the first match of The Ashes.

I suspect they’d be quite interested to hear that despite Conservative members voting for Mr Johnson to be their leader, they seem to have ended up with Mr Cummings instead and we’re sure he’s not even an MP.

India has cancelled the special status of Kashmir and the price of smart winter woollies are expected to rocket. Jokes aside, I’m not sure how ethical blocking all forms of communication are, the cynical part of me might find the government has things they’re trying to hide.

It seems Kermit is in charge of the railways as the UK train companies made complete fools of themselves this week. On Wednesday they announced their decision to pull out of the European wide Interrail scheme. By Thursday they were so happy with the decision that they reversed it. Nice work!

In France, those purveyors of the ‘naturally’ blue wine that we have discussed in the past are now under investigation by the French authorities. It appears that chemists at the University of Toulouse have detected E133 which is the same blue dye used in Blue Curaçao, if found guilty the sentence for putting additives in wine is two years jail and a €375000 fine. You heard it here first!

While I’m chatting with you, did you see that scientists at the University of Glasgow have invented an artificial ‘tongue’ that can detect the differences in whiskies with over 99% of accuracy.  A selection of different whiskies and ages were used in the testing and it could distinguish the different ages, the different barrels and the different distilleries.  When I read stories like this I do wonder about our future, perhaps I just read too many Sci-Fi books as a kid.

Anyway I should think about wrapping this up now, It’s been nice to chat to you OOOR but I really do need to get on.

I’d just mention that the Wine School that starts in October has four places left, so if you’ve been checking the diary don’t dally for too much longer. Full details are attached.

Tastings

Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –

DOMAINE TRELOAR WITH RACHEL TRELOAR – £20

Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Tasting This Weekend

Continuing our tour of holiday destinations, this week we’re visiting the Loire valley for the white. Not far from the city of Nantes is Domaine des Herbauges. We’ll taste their Moulin d’Argent Chardonnay 2018 (£11.99) which is from vines around the lake of Grand-Lieu in Muscadet country. Crisp, dry, and completely done in stainless steel, the wine gets a little lees contact for complexity. We like to think of it as a Chablis replacement, just without the price tag.

We’ve heard Sicily is popular this time of year, so we’ll be making an offer you can’t refuse with Lumari Nero d’Avola/Syrah 2018 (£10.49) a deliciously juicy red that’ll be tasty with all sorts of antipasti!

With that I’m off, thanks for listening! u

Lost & Found

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Dear Out of Office Reply,

We wondered if you might keep this handy in the Inbox for the person that normally sits in front of you.

I’m sure they’ll want to read this when they get back. I know they’ll have missed the delicious tasting at the weekend, but there is a chance that some of the other information will still be pertinent.

If you feel the need to share this email with covering desks please do go ahead, we’re always happy to be seen with new eyes.

News

We’ve been reading the news this week and have discovered that it can be read in many different ways.

The new PM, Boris Johnson has been on a whistle stop tour of the United Kingdom and was greeted by boos wherever he went.” Could also be read as: “Whilst on a surprise visits around the United Kingdom this week, PM Boris Johnson was taken aback when many voters greeted him with a boo. It really made him jump!”

“The Bank of England  had a meeting this week, left interest rates unchanged and predicted that Brexit would give a 1 in 3 chance of a recession. “ reads quite differently to “The Bank of England  had a meeting this week, left interest rates unchanged and predicted that Brexit would give a 2 in 3 chance of no recession.”

News that really shook us though, was the discovery that somebody has stolen Hotel Chocolat’s Chocmobile. In a story reminiscent of the old ice-cream wars of the eighties, the vehicle went missing from their HQ in Royston. We wondered if it might be a “local shop for local people” scenario, till we realised it was the wrong Royston. 

A reward has been offered, consisting of five years subscription to the Chocolate Tasting Club and a visit to the inventing room at the factory. Apparently three males were spotted in the vicinity so we’ve contacted Messrs. Green, Black and Wonka but are yet to hear back from any of them.

So do keep ‘em peeled folks and  if you see an ice cream van with ‘more cocoa less sugar’ on the back Hotel Chocolat would like a word. Or it could just be a cheap publicity stunt.

Also, if anyone sees some breakfast show listeners please do return them to Radio 2, Zoe is missing about 780,000 of them.

Elsewhere, Google has organised a conference in Sicily discuss global warming. It’s known as The Camp, and  the rich and famous have arrived in over 100 private jets and an armada of super yachts. Seems to me that the great and the good could have saved thousands of tonnes of emissions if they’d come in just the one plane, or even more if somebody only had the technology for a conference call. My dad might have described it as: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Whilst on the subject of lunacy, in drinks related news, Los Angeles Zoo is to launch a beer brewed with the help of Charlie the sloth. He helped to choose a couple of extra ingredients for the brew from a range of fruits and flowers, plumping for pears and roses. The beer will be available at ‘Brew at The Zoo’ a music festival this weekend. So if you’re in the neighbourhood we look forward to a slow and considered tasting note.  Sometimes you really can’t make these things up!

Tastings

Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –

DOMAINE TRELOAR WITH RACHEL TRELOAR – £20

Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING  SOLD OUT

Summer Saturdays

As usual for this month, tomorrow and the remaining Saturdays in August we will close at 7pm.

Tasting This Weekend

The white corner will host Flametree Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 – £16.99, a cracking drop made by our chum Cliff Royle – it even won a gold medal at the Royal Sydney Wine show last year.

Sporting the bullfighters cape in the red corner will be Imperio Reserva 2011, Valdepeñas, Spain – £10.99 –  made by Bodegas Navarro Lopez, it is absolutely classic old school style Tempranillo, aged and rounded, with a colour heading to brick at the rim, liquorice and balsamic aromas combining with vanilla and spiced rich fruit on the nose.  Berry and cherry fruit flavours with spice and a smooth satisfying finish – great with some barbecued lamb and with the added incentive that Alex will be passing by in real-time as we taste the wine in London! ed0 Colorful Li

Billy, Boris and some Portugeezers

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, that was fun wasn’t it; anyone got a swimming pool we can borrow?

Having hoped to open up here with some lyrics from Billy Idol and his hot city nights it transpires that, on closer research, his song is about hanging out in New York and not actually a current weather report.  Further research reveals that White Wedding is not a suitable song for that first dance; Rebel Yell is definitively not a study of the American Civil War whilst Dancing with Myself actually is about dancing with your own reflection.  Thanks wiki.  We also learnt that he was born in Stanmore, just round the corner from Alex’s grandmother’s flat and down the road from where Wayne parked up for the 1966 World Cup Final – too much information?  Sorry.

Moving on, in the biggest shock of the year so far, that other platinum blonde, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson became our new PM.  Nothing we can say will change this and I’m nervous.  In our lifetimes Wayne and I have seen ten or perhaps eleven Prime ministers – an 11 year old schoolkid has already seen five and could even see a sixth before year end!

Anyway, Boris has picked his team and now they have all gone fishin’ until September, which will give them about 40 working days to exit Europe.  Oh, and perhaps have an election too – more than enough time.  Teresa was seen sipping a clear drink with a slice of lime in it at Lord’s yesterday; she looked remarkably relaxed, unshackled and about 10 years younger – easy lays the head that no longer wears the crown, to horrendously misquote the Bard.

She did witness a bit of a fight back by the England team though, including an extraordinary innings by a number 11 plus the traditional mid-order collapse.  Good to see Roy in the runs, bit of a concern about Burns though, is the step up to Test a bit too big – Australia will be watching and learning.  Wayne has been hard at work every morning this week in order to guarantee undisturbed viewing of the Tour de France in the afternoon although he has twice missed the finish due to well-timed customer interventions – how we laughed!  Oh, and as for his persistent criticism of Quintana – well, yesterday left him lost for words.

Holidays are now in full swing and with them holiday havoc headlines.  Threats of strikes on BA, trains having to drive more slowly due to the rails getting too hot and our Devon correspondent tells tale of hour long tailbacks down to Bantham – I’m sure the Gastrobus is doing roaring trade!

In our world of wine, Rosé is still ruling the roost.  Prosecco seems to be slowing down, Crémant is speeding up whilst Gin is starting to plateau a bit.  Beer seems to be growing again whilst red wines are stalling a bit – could this be the heat.  In the real world, Fever Tree announced a slowdown in growth, blaming the weather as ever but perhaps this is another sign of a gin plateau?  We’ll see…

And that’s about it for news really.  Tasting season is over until September which, judging by the shop temperature this week can only be regarded as a good thing.  Here are the Autumn dates, as a reminder for you whilst you read this by the pool:

Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –

DOMAINE TRELOAR WITH RACHEL TRELOAR – £20

Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING – £30

Our annual journey through the world of fizz and Champagne – will the same people turn up this year we wonder!?!?

If anyone is still around we’ll also have wine open this weekend.  We’ve restocked our Portuguese shelves this month and are very excited to get some old friends back on the shelves and open for tasting:

Adega Camolas Clô Branco 2018 – £9.99 from the Setubal peninsula this is an absolute charmer of a white.  Fruity and aromatic, it’s a blend of Fernão Pires and Moscatel with a lovely dry finish and a real food all-rounder.

Vinha Paz 2015 – £18.99 from the Dão, this is a small property, owned by Antonio Canto Moniz, a surgeon by trade but whose family connections to winemaking in the Dão stretch back several generations; his grandfather was the first president of the Federation of Dão Winemakers.  Henrique, Antonio’s youngest son, is currently the winemaker behind this gem and there is a real love affair with the land and special terroir of their vines.  A rich spicy blend 50% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz, 15% Alfrocheiro, 5% Jaen, that spent 8 months in a mixture of French and American oak and is exactly what is great and exciting about wines from Portugal.

Summer Saturdays

As has become our custom, Saturdays in August we will close at 7pm, so that’s from next Saturday 3rd August.

That’s it from us – August is almost upon us, Alex is away from the middle of next week and so, for the next few weeks, as there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove, I’ll be dancing with myself! ]]3210@�

Winding down for summer

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, this week has been a lot less about tennis and cricket than last week. Fear not, we’ve gainfully employed ourselves with stocking up the shelves, pushing the broom round the shop followed by a Cheese & Wine tasting. Oh, and the Tour de France, which has been really rather thrilling so far, the first time since forever that the first twelve stages have rewarded us with twelve different winners.

But of course the appearance of the Tour de France really is just an outlying signal, warning of an impending disappearance. The world was in black and white, Wayne was at school and the end of term was definitely signalled when French lessons evolved into discussions as to who was following the Tour de France. Bernard Hinault was the man then, winning in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982. Indeed his final victory in 1985 marked the last French winner of the race.

So, end of term is rearing its head, with Prosecco parties in the park, letters from the headmaster and thoughts of ice-cream.  This weekend sees an abundance of festivals too, with George Ezra, Lana Del Ray and Snow Patrol at Latitude, whilst Kraftwerk, New Order and Hot Chip do the business at Blue Dot.

So, are you staying local or going somewhere nice? Reading the press, it doesn’t sound like you’ve booked with Thomas Cook, so perhaps the A303 is going to be a tad busy at points. Pop in and take a case of rosé and bubbly with you, it’s going to be a great summer.

Elsewhere in the world,  Facebook may be about to be fined $5billion for privacy violations with regard to Cambridge Analytica antics, whilst half the world gives free access to their photos for a Russian app to age them twenty years. Face recognition technology in free development!

Otherwise, just when you thought he could go no lower, Trumpolina finds a longer stick to scrape the real depths of the barrel, turning to outright racism at a rally in Carolina. Whilst on the subject of incompetent fools, Corbyn and May tried to out-racist each other with institutionalised anti-Semitism and Islamophobia taunts. 

May is, of course, about to be replaced by another incompetent fool, which looks likely to be Boris who strangely chose to wave a kipper about at the final hustings. Urban Dictionary: “to be done or stiched up like a kipper, clearly means to be duped or tricked by false information that was there for all to see”

On the plus side, we’ve been informed that our water will be clean and the planes will still be flying in the event of a no deal Brexit!

In the realm of the ‘drinks and drinking’ media it feels like some of the grown-ups have gone on holiday and the student interns are running amok.

Pernod Ricard are introducing a “premium alcohol-free dark spirit” which will have sweet vanilla, spices and oak cask wood flavours, retailing at around £25.  A £25 bottle of rum includes an £8.05 donation to the exchequer in the form of duty, plus the VAT of about £4. This new alcohol-free drink at £25, just the £4 of VAT. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see some alternatives to a glass of Highland Spring for those who prefer not to drink, but it just seems some of our trade are starting to take the margin-mickey. Twenty five quid seems a lot of cash for flavoured water to put in your ginger ale!

Wine School  

We’ve sold over half the spaces now, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun do give us a shout.

Six Week Wine School –

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

Future Tastings

WINE & CHEESE

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – £20

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – £20

Thursday 28th November – Cheese & Wine’s Greatest Hits for 2019 at 8pm – £20

If Cheese & Wine is not your thing we also have these…

Thursday 17th October Domaine Treloar at 8pm- £20

Thursday 5th December Champagne & Fizz at 8pm – £30 (Half Sold!)

What Are We Tasting This Weekend?

We’re going to suggest a glass or two of Fleurie Cuvée Sept 2018 (£14.99) in the red corner, possibly lightly chilled as next week looks likely to be a scorcher.

Sporting the white golf shirt with an open collar will be Domaine Landrat-Guyollot Pouilly Fumé ‘La Rambarde’ (£20.99), it may have nothing to do with Northern Irish Golf but it’s a real winner.

That’s it from us this week, be nice to someone, help a stranger and come and taste some wine!

Wine: more or less?

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

20% of UK adults now do not drink alcohol and of those that still do, 47% have cut back their consumption.

Now here’s a question for you – how many of you have ever taken part in a survey?  Or perhaps more correctly, how many of you have taken part in a survey that hasn’t just disappeared into the miasma of data harvesting but has actually been used for a ‘greater’ good, where you can actually see the fruits of your labours and say, ’yes, I’m one of the 47% who has cut back, I remember that question well!’. 

For me, I think the closest I ever get to one is when a local newspaper makes me answer ‘one simple question’ in order to gain access to an article online.  Or when one of our suppliers wants to find out if we’re happy with their offering via survey monkey.  Or when Amazon is feeling overly needy.  Never have I been asked by Euromonitor, MORI or Mintel for my august opinion.  Clearly they already know my thoughts.

Anyway, the reason I ask is because I often wonder who is actually being door-knocked by the man from the market research company?  Is there a hardcore of form fillers out there who make a small income being professional vox pop providers?  Are the surveys only carried out mid-afternoon on a Tuesday when a lot of people are at work?  If so, when they ask the question ‘do you watch the BBC soap Doctors?’ affirmative answers dwarf negative and  the front page of The Mirror the next day informs us that more than 90% of the British public watch afternoon soaps.  Clearly not true.

If you are a serial survey subscriber then do come and talk to us – we’d love to hear your secrets! 

End of impromptu market research bit.

In the world outside of wine, because by all accounts there is one, life meanders on.  Trump slags off a man he has never met and then proceeds to slag off the PM too whilst Boris somehow gets blamed for the aforementioned civil servant’s resignation.  Confused?  Don’t worry; there’ll be a new outrage along shortly.

In the other world outside of wine, we are facing Blue Tuesday next week.  Having had all available devices streaming the cricket, the tennis and the Tour de France all this week, the 16th July will find us bereft – Wimbledon and the World Cup will have wrapped up on Sunday and the cyclists are taking a rest day on Tuesday so, if you want great, undistracted customer service, that’s the day to choose – we’ll both be here, eager and attentive!

However, within the wine world, we hear of the latest easy way to spend 30,000 euros, with a distinct whiff of the emperor’s new clothes.  A Bordeaux producer, Liber Pater, has announced that their 2015 vintage consists of just 550 bottles and each of these will leave you pocket change from £27,000.  I do wonder if the vineyard has taken the Mintel report a little bit too seriously when it confirmed that whilst the 47% have cut back, they are now spending more per bottle – seeking quality over quantity – but it’s still a bit of a leap for most of us pricewise! 

And the wine?  Well, we know nothing about it really – it’s made using local Castets, Tarney-Coulant and Pardotte grapes which are not the first names one reels off in a Bordeaux grape list.  Oh and they are intensively planted, at almost double the density per hectare than normally allowed in the region and then vinified in clay amphora, with no use of oak.  To the uneducated, and I very much include myself in this realm, this actually sounds like an effective recipe for cutting costs.  Use unfashionable grapes, plant them shoulder to shoulder to increase potential yields and then save money by avoiding buying expensive, hand-made oak barriques.  Oh and it can’t be labelled Bordeaux as a consequence of all this so is merely a Vin de France… next time I moan about the increasing cost of Sassicaia and other Super-Tuscans I’ll remember to wind my neck in!

Local news

And by local, we mean really local, 126 Arthur Road local.

As discussed last week, we have various dates for your diary well worth noting and booking before you abandon ship for the summer hols.

Places are starting to fill up on the next Wine School, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun, do give us a shout.

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

If however you can’t commit to a six week course, here is a brief overview of what is going on over the next few months, in the evenings when the summer is over and watching boxsets just feels like brain atrophy…

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –

DOMAINE TRELOAR WITH RACHEL TRELOAR – £20

Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING – £30

Our annual journey through the world of fizz and Champagne – will the same people turn up this year we wonder!?!?

Plenty to choose from there – drop us a line if any of them tantalise!

This weekend

After many weeks of waiting we finally have Cretan wine back in stock and more than last time.  Not content with just having the delicious Assyrtiko we now also have a red, Kotsifali and a small quantity of a wine called Dafni, more on that another time.

So, as is our wont, we will be opening the Assyrtiko and the Kotsifali tonight and tomorrow.

The Assyrtiko has a definite floral character, refreshing minerality and chalky texture that makes it a truly delicious foil to lightly fried white fish or seafood whilst the Kotsifali is indisputably a classic of the vineyard of Crete. Spices and red fruits with an elegant mouthfeel and a piquant aftertaste make it a deliciously fresh drop, not too weighty and seriously good with lamb kleftiko or a bit of fried cheese.

Lyrarakis Vóila Assyrtiko 2018 – £14.49

Lyrarakis Kotsifali 2018 – £12.50

That’s it from us for now – come and taste some Crete sunshine in a bottle and sign up for a tasting or two whilst you’re here.  We’ll leave you with one final thought – if 47% of us have cut back, is it not possible that 53% of us are now pulling more corks than ever?

I’ll drink to that! ed

Sunshine and Strawberries

Friday, July 5th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re not sure if it’s the sunshine, an overdose of strawberries, or the impending school holidays but the world seems to have gone mad.

First up, we’ll point out that Chelsea have a new manager. They haven’t gone for a high flying winner of everything but for a club legend in Frank Lampard. His relative inexperience at managerial level, Derby County not making promotion, prompted quite a chat amongst ourselves here at Park Vintners Towers. We wondered if Chelsea had filled a managerial post, or just become the first club to enter the Post Managerial era. Given that there’s little to be done to change the team following their past transgressions, we can’t help but wonder if Frankie is just there to be cheerful and full of stories for the press conferences.

Secondly, this Tory leadership contest seems to be taking some bizarre twists and turns as we get ever nearer. BoJo seems still to be hiding from journalists at every opportunity, whilst threatening to remove the sugar tax. Meanwhile, JeHun is happy to talk to anyone who looks in his direction and wants to bring back fox-hunting.  Both of them have promised so many tax cuts and spending rises that John McDonnell’s spending plans seem almost grown up.

Talking of grown-ups, the MEP’s of the Brexit party proved that they were anything but; turning their backs during the EU anthem, disrespecting the young musicians performing it, also disrespecting all the people who voted by behaving like naughty schoolchildren and, for historians, drawing nasty parallels with an incident in the Reichstag in 1930. What on earth has happened to integrity?

Commiserations to the Lionesses, a valiant effort and certainly this commentator enjoyed watching. Commiserations to the Kiwis, no scratch that, well played England, onwards and upwards World Cup Cricket semi-finals beckon! I also say that the World Cup Rugby training squad was announced today, seems a bit of attention seeking by the big lads, jealous of the attention the cricketers are getting.

On the local tennis tournament front Harriet Dart has set herself up nicely for a run around on the grass with World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, whilst Nick Kyrgios was spotted out for a pint or two in the Dog & Fox this week. At this stage we’re unsure if it was a quick pint, or if he was out out. Anybody in Hemingways this week see him?

Anyway, proper sport starts on Saturday the Tour de France. Stage one being a jaunt around Brussels through the town where Eddy Merckx grew up, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first Tour de France win.

Who will win this year? Dunno, if I’m honest. Certainly not Froome or Dumoulin, unlikely Quintana who’s still looking for an opportunity to attack from last year. Geraint Thomas is certainly an option, but I wonder if Roman Bardet maybe worth a penny each way at 22/1 alongside a penny each way with Adam Yates at 12/1. The bookies certainly have Egan Bernal seems to be the bookies pick, even if Richie Porte thinks G is favourite.

Wine School  

Places are starting to fill up now, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun do give us a shout.

Six Week Wine School –

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

Future Tastings

As we’re getting along to the end of the season, with just a couple of places left for Thursday 18th July,we thought it expedient to remind you of the dates for Autumn. Some are already selling through.

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – £20

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – £20

Thursday 28th November – Cheese & Wine’s Greatest Hits for 2019 at 8pm – £20

If Cheese & Wine is not your thing we also have these…

Thursday 17th October Domaine Treloar at 8pm- £20

Thursday 5th December Champagne & Fizz at 8pm – £30

Tasting This Weekend

With the Tour de France starting we had to go French this week. Add to that the warmth of the sun on our faces, a definite blue hue in the sky and the white jersey will be…

Domaine de la Combe Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Tradition 2017 – £11.39

Found in the village of Saint-Fiâcre, which lies nestled in the cradle of the Muscadet appellation, between the two rivers of Sèvre and Maine.  The slopes of these river valleys give the vines a unique exposure and lead to Saint-Fiâcre being considered one of the best sites. Wines are made from vines first planted in 1950’s – a rarity in the area as most are dug up after 40 years – with the latest planted in 2016.  After working in vineyards across the world, Pierre-Henri Gadais returned in 2016 to take over the Domaine from his father Christophe, to whom the previous owner – the local legend Nelly Marzelleau- had passed on the estate in 2009.

Charging up the Tourmalet in the boot of the Commissars red car will be Le Ciel Vide 2015 (£12.49) Named after a Bruce Springsteen song “Empty Sky” which, for us expressed most clearly the memories of September 11th. This unoaked red is made from Syrah and Grenache.”  The tasters at the recent Domaine Treloar tasting called this the most complex 12 quid wine they’d had, and ‘a real no-brainer’.

Lastly, police in London last week seized a staggering 461 cars for driving without insurance, that’s a June total of 1886! Let’s be careful out there!

Cheers s

Glastonbury, G20 and Question of Sport

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A question posed yesterday by one of my oldest friends (and I mean that both in terms of age and length of service) is one that has been confounding the greatest minds since the dawn of time: ‘So, why can’t English top level sportsmen perform under pressure?’ 

In case there was any doubt as to what he was referring to, I believe the pasting the England cricket team received on Tuesday was probably top of his list.  Comments such as ‘crumpling under the weight of expectation’, ‘putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure’ and ‘not being as good as we thought we were’ were all good suggestions for our failure to achieve.  The suggestion that we could try cheating was met with stiff opposition and it was crudely pointed out that we’d probably bottle that too.  The observation that 5 of the World Cup squad were born outside of England was merely used as an example as to how infectious the English condition can be – imagine how different life wold be if Ben Stokes had stayed in NZ?

So we need a win on Sunday, against the minnows that call themselves India followed by another wine against the land of Mr Stokes’s birth.  Easy, two form teams gearing up for the final four – what could go wrong?  Paul, our correspondent from Lords on Tuesday, was keen to reiterate to us in his report that England were ‘utterly pants’ that day; so, providing we avoid being pants, everything should be hunky dory!

Keen to avoid any work/cricket/lengthy sporting discourse, Wayne spent the first chunk of this week mingling and networking in Tuscany.  It was the AGM of the small buying group that we are members of and, this year, it was being hosted by one of the Argentine wine producers.  Whilst keen to travel to Mendoza, the ‘fly on Monday, return on Wednesday’ nature of the trip made it more sensible for the winery to decamp to Europe.  The irony of drinking Malbec in the Italian sunshine whilst enjoying the asado was not lost on him. 

However, the absence of any Italian wine at all did feel a little bit like an opportunity missed.  Apart from that, I’m told that he has seen things that he will never be able to unsee and the ‘what goes on tour stays there’ line has been used more than once.  Suffice to say, any winery that has different cigar matches for their wines is definitely not one for the fainthearted.  Apparently we need to ask him about ‘the somersaults’…?

But he was back in time for our tasting last night.  We had the pleasure of hosting Rachel from Domaine Treloar last night, or perhaps more accurately we provided a location for Rachel to host her fabulous wines.  I think it would be fair to say that it was a brilliant evening and the wines were singing.  The great news now is that Rachel will be back to do it all again on Thursday 17th October at 8pm – tickets are £20 but don’t dally, I suspect some of the guests from last night might sign up to do it all over again!

Meanwhile, our crusty friends have gone down to Glastonbury to re-discover themselves.  Admittedly the crusty appellation is probably no longer appropriate as they now all have posh jobs in defence and science but, back in the day, they were definitely fence climbing, friends of Swampy and New Model Army.  Anyway, back in 1989 the Pyramid headliners were Suzanne Vega, Elvis Costello and Fela Kuti; 1999 brought us R.E.M., Manic Street Preachers and Skunk Anansie; 2009 was the turn of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band and Blur and now, in 2019 we have ‘the’ Stormzy, The Killers and The Cure.  Wayne wants to go back to 1989 and I quite fancy 2009 – what’s your vote?

Wherever this weekend happens to find you sheltering it will definitely be from the sun we are told, Saturday being sun day and Sunday being cloud and sun day.  Both days will, however, be Scorchio! (Fast Show 1994-1997, just in case you weren’t feeling old enough already) and as a result we’ll be opening some cooling refreshers tonight and tomorrow.

Dressed in cooling white linen we have the gently charming Château Mercian Yamanashi Koshu Sur Lie 2017 – £17.50.

With a winemaking history dating back to 1877 Chateau Mercian is now Japan’s leading winery although we accept that Japan is not an enormous wine producer, its annual 22 million bottles is less than Moet & Chandon’s annual sales.  Koshu is Japan’s very own grape variety, having been grown there for around a thousand years although DNA research at UC Davies has determined it to be a descendant of Europe’s vitis vinifera vine species.  We found this to be light and fresh, a little floral and with a lovely dry finish.  Excellent with some sashimi, or a seafood paella but just fabulous with some pan-fried mackerel in the sunshine!

For the redder amongst us we will be toasting the weather with a glass of chilled Rechamante 2016 – £14.99.

Hailing from Orense, in Galicia, this is a cracking red.  Made mainly from Mencía Grape variety, it is light, fresh and fruity.  The fruits are a mixture of red and dark fruits to this taster but there is no doubting its juiciness.  Dangerously easy to drink, only 12%, and bound to be a tasty partner to whatever you happen to be cooking this weekend.

That’s about it from us for this week – I’ve attached details of the upcoming tastings and also the details of the Wine School that starts again in October – have a read, see if you fancy any of them, drop us a line – easy.

Oh and the solution, perhaps, to the ‘why can’t English top level sportsmen perform under pressure?’ conundrum.  Stop watching.  Watch the women instead.  3-0 to England last night in the World Cup quarter finals and a penalty saved.  If you get the chance to see the third goal on highlights then it’s definitely worth a watch.

Stay fresh!

Be excellent to each other!

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, we started the week with a debate on the BBC that was arguably no debate at all. It was quite possibly some of the worst TV I have watched, with five clueless buffoons all talking over each other and not answering any of the questions put to them by the viewers. Some wags suggesting that it was like an ancient boy band reunion of ‘Fake That’ and ‘Worst Life’ amused this commentator.

Anyway, the target audience seemed to enjoy it but I’m not sure that was you or I, dear reader. The next day they had a secret ballot and kicked out the only member who had an idea. The secret polling then kicked out the only chap who had no hair – seems harsh but that’s politics!

Talk then returned to getting back at the patronising one with spectacles for some previous stitch up. Amber gambler had warned against it in the press but, as she was supporting the follicly challenged chap, nobody listened. Votes were lent to the Foreign Secretary, who can’t remember the nationality of his long-suffering wife, and that was sufficient to exclude the patronising chap.

Which brings us to where we are now. Fake That’s five members have been whittled down to just two, we’ll call them ‘The Reclaimers’ for they’ll walk 500 miles to get a vote from party members and they’ll reclaim Brexit, because well, it means Brexit. So look out at your country fairs, where tweed and a blue rinse reign, for the man that dances the Morris may indeed be Boris!

As it dawns on the country that a choice between buffoonery and Marxism at No.10 are now the options, many may chuck their lot in with Chukka, who now liberally sports an orange pocket square.

Meanwhile, Brussels continues its preparations. Planners, influencers and logistics experts have all been involved, and the day is fast approaching.  You guessed it folks, the Tour de France starts in Brussels on July 6th. . As we read about the contestants literally falling over themselves to make it more interesting, let’s just celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first TDF victory of Eddy Merckx, Brussels born and bred.

Big Eddie has announced his initial England training squad for the Rugby World Cup in September and some corners of the press seem surprised at the exclusion of players who’ve not played since December. I thought we’d already discovered that having a large number of caps hanging up in the shed didn’t necessarily make you the best person for the job ad infinitum.

In the cricket world cup there are some big scores and thrilling games, also a bit of controversy with 5 players getting away so far with hitting stumps without dislodging bails. We’re halfway through now, so catch some if you can.

In the footie World Cup, Scotland head home after squandering a 3-0 lead over Argentina, whilst also being at the cruellest end of goal line technology. England went through, top of their group after straight wins.

We’ve been busy with Cheese & Wine this week, a private one on Wednesday for a group of chums, and then one of our regular Cheese & Wine evenings last night. As we’re getting along to the end of the season, with just a couple of places left for Thursday 18th July,we thought it expedient to come up with the dates for Autumn.

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – £20

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – £20

Thursday 28th November – Cheese & Wine’s Greatest Hits for 2019 at 8pm – £20

If Cheese & Wine is not your thing we also have these…

Thursday 17th October Domaine Treloar at 8pm- £20

Thursday 5th December Champagne & Fizz at 8pm – £30

If you’re already busy on all of those dates, we’re sorry you’ll miss out on the fun!

Wine School

As Alex mentioned last week, summer is coming and you’re all going to disappear for large chunks of July and August. Give yourselves a reason to come back, if you leave it till September there’s a risk that the Wine Course you meant, but forgot, to sign up for before you went away is now subscribed.

Six Week Wine School –

Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person – Full details attached, unless we forget!

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll be wearing white shirts with Domaine Lebrun Pouilly Fume 2017 (£17.99). About a million years ago, when we sported Oddbins polo shirts, we used to sell lots of this wine.  The bottle has lost its distinctive orange label somewhere in the intervening years but the wine has lost none of its quality or verve.  Gooseberry, grass, minerals, lemons and limes all crop up somewhere between the start and the nice long finish.

We’ll be wearing red shorts with Lopez de Haro Gran Reserva 2010 (£21). After conducting extensive tastings, our in-house team (Alex and I, sacrificing ourselves again!) selected this silky little number. 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. A tip top Gran Reserva delicious with that pork chop you picked up at the Farmer’s Market for the barbecue on Sunday.

Finally news reaches us that Bill & Ted 3: Face The Music is now in production, so in their words: Be excellent to each other!