Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Potato Milk, Pina Colada and One Hundred Fines

Friday, May 13th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Firstly, an apology.  Having predicted a lovely weekend in our last missive I was aghast to see rain drops descending gently at 11.30 on Saturday morning.  Thankfully the rain stopped falling but the clouds remained and made for a rather drab Saturday afternoon, so sorry.  We’ll stick to predicting the horses that definitely won’t win their races and avoid dabbling with meteorology in future.

So, we’re now up to 100 fines issued by the Met to those fine folk in Downing Street and its environs.  Plenty has been said about all this already but blimey, that’s a whole bucket load of socialising going on during lockdown whilst you were all stuck at home with fractious husbands/children/dogs and goldfish – bonkers.  All we need now is for Keir and Angela to get a ticket and the wheels may well come off completely.

However, the question on everyone’s lips should be whilst Boris was doing cheese, wine and the occasional cake and Keir was doing beer and curry what was Ed Davey up to?  Pork pie and a pint?  Pina colada and a poke bowl?  Prosecco and twiglets?  I think we should be told…

Whilst we’re on the subject of cocktails, apparently the Pina Colada is now the third most popular cocktail in the UK after Negroni and Mojito.  We learnt this having read the latest Waitrose Drinks Report 2022 which says that classic retro cocktails such as Blue Lagoon, Tequila Sunrise and Mai Tai are back in fashion, with Sangria holding the spot of the most searched for cocktail recipe last summer.  Having read this we further researched and discovered the Pina Colada news in an article in the Guardian from 2 days ago, so it must be true.  Not sure where this leaves us intellectually and as we don’t sell white rum, pineapples or coconut cream it certainly doesn’t help us much commercially either but at least you all now have a conversation starter for this weekend’s dinner party!

Back to the Waitrose report though.  They also revealed their 10 most popular drinks choices currently and as ever the findings don’t create many ripples.  Their most popular drink was their own brand Pinot Grigio, followed by some beers, Prosecco, a cider, then a 10% Sauvignon Blanc from South Australia followed by more beers.  No red wine in the top ten and no rosé either, for the moment!

Mind you, a report published in October last year by these jokers also stated that milk derived from potatoes would be one of 2022’s biggest food trends.  “Low in sugar and saturated fat, it’s set to dominate coffee shop menus in the coming months” the report said.  So there you go, 10% Aussie Sauvignon and potato milk on your next Waitrose order please.

With the world going to hell in a handcart under the combined influences of pandemic and Putin, it’s good to see the worlds of film and football still manage to inhabit that realm between reality and outer space.  The Amber Heard/Johnny Depp court case has been going on for a while and neither party is looking terribly innocent or indeed terribly happy.  Not to be bested, the Vardy/Rooney court case kicked off this week in the High Court, where Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for libel.  Now these two ladies are famous WAGS, I think we all know of the story dubbed Wagatha Christie but what we hadn’t realised the costs involved.  It’s estimated that each side has spent over £1 million on legal costs and that the potential payout would most likely not exceed £40,000.  Oh, and even the winner will have to pay a chunk of her legal costs so actually the only winners are the lawyers!  It’s a car crash but it gives a huge glimpse of what life is like in the bubble that is Premiership Football and once again goes to show that being uber-rich doesn’t necessarily make you are a terribly nice person!

Anyway, we shouldn’t go off at the deep end about all this, we should just be thankful for what we’ve got.  In this instance we’ve got a shop full of wine and some lovely customers who seem to enjoy buying it from us, even if they have to put up with our ranty Friday emails.  So, with a view to emptying our shelves a bit further, we’ll crack open a couple of bottles this evening and pretend we’re hosting a housing committee meeting in Whitehall!

To continue with our exploration of things more esoteric, the white this week will be Lyrarakis Voila Assyrtiko 2021 – £15.99.  Located in the mountainous commune of Alagni in Crete, Domaine Lyrarakis stays true to local winemaking traditions.  The domaine focuses on indigenous varieties, taking them from obscurity and driving them in a more modern direction, while still retaining a clear sense of place.  Its style focuses on pure varietal character, precision and supple texture. Grown at 580 metres’ altitude in the Voila vineyard there is a definite floral character, refreshing minerality and chalky texture to this delicious wine.

The red is less esoteric but no less delicious – a bit of a staple in our wine racks at home in fact.  Barton Rouge 2015/16 – £9.99 isfrom Walker Bay in South Africa and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot.  Dark ruby in the glass this is a rich and fruit driven wine with dark brambly fruits and a touch of spice, yet without too much tannin to get in the way of the fun.  Works well with everything from pizza to steak so it should probably be in your rack too!

And that’s it from us – do come and say hello as the North London Derby last night has led to a bit of a frosty atmosphere chez PV!!

Is Boris more sludge metal or crust punk? Discuss

Friday, May 6th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to a sunny Friday and, with potential for a rain free weekend ahead of us, I thought I’d jinx it all by opening some rosé this evening on the tasting table… so, when you’re standing under a brolly tomorrow afternoon watching under 13 cricket whilst wearing wellies with shorts (a very British nod to high fashion), you’ll know who to blame!

Anyway, before we get tucked in to all things pink, what’s news?   

Well, it’s been a good week for:

Wayne – as he is finally off on a well-earned cycle extravaganza in the Balearics, apparently a key part of his training for challenges later in the season.  Not sure if he means cycling, dancing or drinking beer challenges but I am sure he is working hard on all three.

Boris Johnson – yeah, who’d have thunk it.  Whilst here in the UK many feel he has outstayed his welcome it would appear that in Ukraine they can’t get enough of him.  Fresh from having a street named after him in Fontanka, near Odesa last month, it was announced yesterday by the mayor of the city of Vasylkiv, that their “new embankment on the Stugna River … will now have the name of a great friend of Ukraine: Prime Minister Boris Johnson.”

Shareholders in Shell and BP as both companies post record profits

Real Madrid – showing us all how important it is to play the full 90+ minutes and to not start easing up when the clock starts ticking down

However, someone’s good week is always someone else’s bad one:

Will Smith – the ongoing fallout from his Oscars performance leads to Dave Chappelle receiving an uninvited armed guest on stage during his act

Boris – Mr Becker this time.  Not only given a prison sentence but now facing the distinct possibility of deportation – not how we thought Boom Boom’s fairytale would end

Golf – as Lee Westwood (estimated net worth £40 million) becomes another golfer keen to play for Saudi money and thus becoming an apologist for them.  Lee, I get that other sports have taken their cash too and I get that playing golf is your job but really, no one is making you do this

Manchester City – showing us all how important it is to play the full 90+ minutes and to not start easing up when the clock starts ticking down

Wandsworth Tories – not sure they saw that coming

Hay fever sufferers – high pollen count for the next few days, you can almost see it in the air – Wayne, stay away!

For the rest of us, I imagine it has been a reasonably decent week, shorter than some thanks to the Bank Holiday and finishing off with a bit of sunshine, what’s not to like!

Anyway, at the top I suggested opening some rosé, who’s with me?  I am going to start the season with our perennial best seller and a wine many of you know and love but not all of you have tasted, Château de L’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ Côtes de Provence Cru Classé – £15.99.  The 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 did I mention we also offer 6 bottles for £80….

Whilst lots of people like rosé, it doesn’t rock everybody’s world.  For those of you who rock to a different beat, I’m going to open Juliénas-Chaintré Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ – £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 and very tasty lightly chilled at lunchtime!

Think that’s about it from us for now – I just want to leave you with some further fruits of my meanderings into the worldwide web.  Whilst googling Messrs Johnson and Becker I kept on being offered details of a Japanese band named BORIS, who by all accounts have been active since the earlier 90’s and have a varied genre of musical influences, to wit:

experimental music, experimental rock, noise music, noise rock, experimental/avant-garde metal, doom metal, post-metal, drone metal, sludge metal, psychedelic music, psychedelic rock, psychedelic metal,  stoner rock, sludge metal, drone music, old-school industrial music, ambient music, acid rock, garage rock, shoegazing, dream pop, J-pop, crust punk

Now, I’m sure that all you people who are far funnier than me could come up with some amazing jokes about The Johnson and The Becker using the tools provided above, so over to you, Hugh!

Fiddling Whilst Parliament Burns

Friday, April 29th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It seems our democracy continues to be torn apart quicker than a parcel at a five year olds birthday party. According to the Parliament website there are 764 Lords in the house eligible to scrutinise bills, investigate government activity and ask oral and written questions as well as debate.

This week the House of Lords passed the government’s Election Bill which abolishes the independence of the Electoral Commission. Of those 764 eligible to vote only 383 of them bothered. We don’t know about you but we think that putting the body designed to ensure free and fair elections under Government control is surely not the work of a functioning democracy, is it? You didn’t read about it in the papers because they were busily distracted by the crossing of legs and the arching of eyebrows.

In other news, peaceful protest has been criminalised, a DJ has resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct but three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers haven’t. That’s our MP’s upholding standards in public life.

There are elections on the 5th May so do go and vote, it’s us the government is supposed to work for and the continued destruction of democracy relies on continued voter apathy.

Seems our valuation of Twitter was a bit off, the inimitable Ego Musk has maxed out his Amex with an apparent $44billion bid. Surely with that much money you could go to space or something, maybe even set up Thunderbirds in real life. From a secret island in the South Pacific…Tesla Island anyone?

Omid Djalili pointed out some good news though; we used to be able to get about £65 of fuel into the Volvo, now we can get £90 in! Taking a win where we can…

Growing up towards the tail end of the Cold War and witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall, we naively believed that the world was heading in the right direction – that the time of missile crises, repression, persecution, invasions, right wing dictators and the like was over, and while there were still a few rogue bogeymen clinging on in places like Libya, Iraq and North Africa the spread of democracy was inevitable and would reach them in time…Unfortunately it seems our optimism was misplaced and the bogeymen are as present now as they ever were.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affects all of us in a myriad of ways and in the wine industry we can point to availability issue of screwcaps and bottles that are no longer being produced in Ukraine, and the severe price hike of gas and fuel affecting all transport and production as the most obvious examples. And, while Ukraine is clearly taking the brunt of the physical aggression, they are not the only ones struggling as a result of Putin’s empire building efforts.

Georgia, for example, is also suffering – and let’s not forget that the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were annexed by Putin in 2008, citing unnamed threats to ethnic Russians in the region. All of which sounds remarkably familiar but there was less international outrage.

For Georgian winery Teliani Valley, their biggest export market last year was Ukraine, to the tune of 2 million bottles. That market has disappeared in a heartbeat. Second biggest? Russia. Third? Belarus. Fourth? Kazakhstan.

We wanted to do something to help, and the best way we thought we could do that was to get some Georgian wine in your glass. So we’ll be opening Teliani Valley Kakhuri No.8 2020 (£15.99) a blend of Rkatsiteli, Kakhuri, Mitsvane, Khikvi and Kisi grapes. This is a white wine made using skin contact more usually the preserve of red wine making. It gives the wine an amber hue and a wonderfully rich texture. But do come and taste for yourselves it’s actually quite difficult to convey in words.

For those not aware, Georgia is often considered the cradle of wine, with archaeologists tracing the world’s first wine production back to 6000BC with the people of the South Caucasus.

On the red front, we’ll head over to a rather less war torn Sardegna for a drop of San Costentino Cannonau di Sardegna 2020 (£17.99) a medium bodied drop of loveliness. Cannonau is of course the name Grenache goes by when it resides in Sardegna.

Thunderbirds are go…

Wayne & Alex

From HR to the Masked Singer

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Resigns

is a headline we thought we might have read by now, if we’re honest. If he had a job at the Post Office, stacked shelves at a supermarket or drove a bus for a living he’d have been in and out of the HR department pretty sharpish. If we were to use a meme here it might be Alan Sugar with his arm extended pointing to the door.

As it stand’s though, Lord Sugar hasn’t picked up the phone to say: “Send him in now”.  Just as well really, there is nobody sat outside on the naughty chairs in the office. Possibly fearful of the cab waiting downstairs, our Prime Minister has dashed off to India. As I write this he is consulting with the sadhus at Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar. His timely visit is apparently to announce trade deals with India. Call me old fashioned, but don’t we have a Trade Minister or a Foreign Minister who should do that? I bet poor old Liz Truss is fuming at all of those missed Instagram possibilities.

You may recall a few years back we had some fun reporting Belgium running itself without a government, 652 days in the end. I’m not sure it seems such a joke anymore!

In other news, Tesla boss Elon Musk looks set to receive a $23 billion bonus as the company outperforms set targets. That’s the cost of Twitter sorted then!

We also saw that David Attenborough has been named ‘Champion of the Earth’ by the UN. We thought at first that a 95 year old man was perhaps a bit long in the tooth to be uniting the belts to become Undisputed. Then we realised it was for his commentary on nature and climate change, rather than his Rocky style prowess in the ring.

We learned today that Rudy Giuliani has been unmasked as a contestant on ‘The Masked Singer’. His song choice? George Thorogood and the Destroyers “Bad to The Bone”.

At the risk of destroying the rather nice spell of weather we’ve been having, we might just mention that Domaine Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020 (£13.99) has arrived in the shop. It is crisp, dry, pale and as delicious as ever. We’re offering a six box at £72.

This weekend we’ll pay a vinous excursion to South Africa. Wearing the white polo shirt will be KloovenburgChardonnay 2019 (£13.99) a barrel fermented beauty from Swartland. The red shorts will be sported by Idun Nuit Eternelle Syrah 2019 (£19.99) a really elegant and savoury style from the Elgin Valley. Both of these are new drops to us, we tasted them in October and ordered them. Then they took forever to arrive, we had even ordered some more and were discussing a wager on which shipment would arrive first. The joys of paperwork for new imports!

Anyway I suspect that enough from us for another week and we’ll leave you with the words of Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee via Eric and Ernie:

Bring me sunshine, in your smile

Bring me laughter, all the while

In this world where we live, there should be more happiness

So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow

Make me happy, through the years,

Never bring me, any tears,

Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,

Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

Le Big Weekend

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Time for lunch everyone and then an early finish this afternoon, followed by the fast train to the coast for the first free long weekend of the year – 22 degrees in some parts of the country, everyone get ready for pasty legs and bodies followed by sunburn and hangovers.

So, whilst I’ve just been away for a few days gentle queuing on the M20, Wayne has been propping himself up by the door in the hope that at least one of you might pop by so that he might entice you in with a cheerful grin, a witty one liner and promises of fine wine and eclectic music.  However, by all accounts this didn’t happen very often – it seems many of you have also flown the coop and are currently poolside somewhere hot/fireside somewhere snowy.

And it’s not just you that are absent – all our Parliamentarians are also on their Easter Recess.  What this means in real terms though is that between 31st March and 19th April should, for example, the PM and the Chancellor happen to get a fine for breaking the law having previously lied about it, then it’s ok because no one is there to make you resign and when the new term starts you can just pretend you went skiing like everyone else and nothing happened. 

And you still get to keep your job?  As Wayne said to me earlier, it feels as if the phrase ‘surely this time he must go?!’ has now become an ancient English proverb, it having been used so often!

Still, at least the Chancellor kept a cool head when faced with various ‘non-dom’ questions regarding both his and his wife’s activities – in truly Trump-esque style he totally ignored the significance of the accusations and showed far greater concern about who had revealed his secrets… really mate, get your coat, you’ve lost the room, time to slink off to California.

Whilst sitting in the fume-filled fairyland that was the Operation Brock, I did try to catch up on a bit of stuff that was going on outside of SW1 but without much joy – it seems there is very little that we aren’t already painfully aware of, as has been the case for the last few years.  I did discover, whilst catching up on the Court & Social, the announcement that we have all been waiting for as it has been confirmed that Lady Denise van Outen of Basildon has partnered up with Lambrini, official drink of Essex, to create the much awaited ‘Bring the Brini’ campaign.  Now, we’re not sure which of the two parties is going to suffer the most reputational damage in this affair but do have to confess that we were very surprised that both Denise and Lambrini were still knocking about as we were quite sure they were both put out to pasture in the late 1990’s!

As I said, no news.

However, as mentioned previously, it’s Le Big Weekend coming up, no work until Tuesday for all the good people of Wimbledon Park… however the less saintly amongst us will be putting in a bit of hard yakka, at least in the early part of the weekend:

Today, 14th April – 12pm – 7pm

Good Friday 15th April – 12pm – 5pm

Saturday 16th April – 12pm – 6pm

Sunday 17th & Monday 18th April – CLOSED

Tuesday 19th April – back to as you were – 12pm– 7pm!

Hoping that a few of you might venture out, Wayne will once again be standing  by the door to entice you in with his cheerful grin, the same witty one liner but now with the added promise of a taste of the wines that we will have open from this evening onwards:

Flametree Embers Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon 2021 – £15.49

From Margaret River in WA, this is another fab drop from the Cliff Royle stable.  We tasted this a while back but given the snail like movement of wine from across the world at the moment, it has only just arrived with us.  We know we liked it, we suspect we can explain why but, to give full disclosure, we have forgotten what it tastes like so are very much looking forward to revisiting!

As it’s Easter and the rules state that you must eat lamb on Sunday, we thought we’d open one of our all-time favourite reds, Monemvasios Red 2013 – £20.99.

So, a quick intro.  It’s from the southern part of the Peloponnese, in the southern part of Greece, made from 90% Agiorgitiko and 10% Mavroudi but I imagine you knew this already.  It’s absolutely delicious, the fact that the wine has a nice bit of age means we have some lovely mature dark fruit and silky polished tannins – all in all a wine that gives some more famous (and more expensive) French and Italian cousins a good run for their money!  All you need now is to remember to marinate the leg of lamb overnight and then put it in the oven for five hours before you want to eat it and voilà, Kleftiko!

That’s all from us for this week – have a lovely long weekend and, if at all possible, avoid travelling anywhere on Monday…


A Taxing Week

Friday, April 8th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Last week we started with a fabulous quote about fools in April. This week we saw video footage from South Africa of a guy in a supermarket trolley hanging on to the back of a fuel tanker driving down the highway at some speed. Now that’s definitely taking the old CB radio term ‘suicide jockey’ to another level. By all accounts Pretorian Police are unamused.

On the subject of fools it seems the Chancellor, the man charged with collecting tax and administering the country’s finances has found himself in a spot of PR bother. He has just broken a Conservative manifesto promise and inflicted an increase in taxation to most of us through a National Insurance rise so it’s awfully difficult timing to discover that his wife, the daughter of a billionaire, is a ‘non dom’ when it comes to tax.

Now even we can see that’s a bad look for a Chancellor, for a start we all know she lives at No.11 Downing Street. It might not be permanent (especially after this news) but surely that is where she is currently domiciled? Maybe the HMRC might want to have a look at that. We just don’t understand why a change wasn’t suggested by that army of advisers when he became Chancellor, or when he became an MP? Absolute school boy error, we really are governed by clowns.

On the subject of clowns, the Prime Minister announced the UK’s new energy strategy. New nuclear is definitely on the cards, but given the cost and build time that is unlikely to help much in the next five years. We will admit surprise that insulating properties didn’t feature. It seems a relatively straightforward, fast and effective fix to us but what would we know, it’s not like we spend the day in front of a draughty window!

Staying on topic with clowns, you may have noticed Wayne out and about in the trusty Volvo this week, dropping off a case here and there. Do you remember that biblical rain on Wednesday evening about 7.30? Well guess who had to pull over because the trusty windscreen wipers went every which way but loose. So Wayne utilised all his mechanical skills by phoning the kind gentlemen at Naismiths who suggested he pop in. Between you and I he was there about 30 seconds, the chaps at Naismith wielded a spanner, Wayne blushed at his own ineptitude and all was fixed. Every day’s a school day!

In a move that many find akin to cultural vandalism, Culture Secretary Mad Nads has decided that the best way forward for Channel 4 is for the government to sell it off. Founded in 1982 under Margaret Thatcher’s government to foster the British film and TV industry, the channel has always been publicly owned but funded by advertising. Any rumours that Mad Nads has made the announcement in a fit of pique after being rejected for Naked Attraction don’t bear thinking about. We suspect it’s more likely that stunts like replacing the no-show Prime Minister with an ice sculpture during a debate on climate change that have led the decision.

Still on the cultural front, ‘Replicas’ by Tubeway Army celebrated its 43rd birthday this week. I, for one, am struggling to understand how an album that came out when I was a teenager is now older than me!

It must have been years since we mentioned it, but the race to be the next James Bond appears to have taken a turn. Idris Elba has ruled himself as too old, odds on Tom Hardy have lengthened whilst odds on both Aidan Turner and Cillian Murphy have shortened. We can’t comment on whether Alex has popped his tux into Manuel for a press, but we can say that Jane Seymour is “so fed up of hearing, should a woman be James Bond?”

What shall we wrap our taste buds around this weekend? I’ve had a look, and these two look like decent candidates…

Produttori del Gavi ‘Gavi Mille 951’ 2020 – £15.99 – is the white choice – made at their winery overlooking the historic Gavi fortress, this cooperative has been making wine for over 65 years.  Aromas of pear peach, apricot and yellow plum greet us on the nose whilst on the palate we have the same fruit characters with hints of almond in the background.  Dry, light and moreish, a perfect aperitif! It’s even organic and suitable for vegans.

Viña von Siebenthal Parcela #7 Gran Reserva 2018, Aconcagua, Chile – £20.99

It probably says something for this winery that two of their top wines have both received 95+ points from Robert Parker, no mean feat.  Their focus is on small production and high quality and they achieve this in buckets.  Whilst it is a Bordeaux blend with all the usual elegance, there is a ripeness of fruit and a sense of weight that you rarely get in claret.  Well, let me just suggest it might be really rather tasty with a slow roast shoulder of lamb.


Friday, April 1st, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

“Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.” – Charles Lamb

So, did someone prank you yet today?  To explain, for those of you less date obsessed, today is 1st April, April Fool’s Day, the day on which the most irritating people you know get carte blanche to play a joke on you, tell you a tall story or perform some sort of silly stunt all of which is supposedly excused by them exclaiming ‘April Fool’ which somehow allows them immunity from retribution.  As you can tell, we’re not totally on board with all this.

For some though, it seems silly season started early.  Will Smith is the obvious example here, crossing many boundaries and in the process making the story all about him whilst Jada just rolled her eyes.  Then we have our Chancellor saying that he empathises with the Fresh Prince’s situation, something that won’t do either of them any favours.  Honestly though Rishi, people criticising Infosys continued involvement in Russia isn’t quite the same as someone deriding your physical appearance.  Plus, the claim that Akshata Murthy doesn’t have anything to do with the company’s operational decisions is undoubtedly true, however that £400 million bank balance didn’t just spring from the ground.

Rishi also referenced Joe Root in his quest to appear down with the kids, opining that he too hadn’t had the greatest weekend.  True that but it’s not just young master Root who should take the blame for the dismal England batting performance last weekend.  As they slumped to a ten wicket defeat, there was silliness from top to tail but I imagine they all said ‘April Fool’ to each other in the changing room and thus will get away with it and be picked again when New Zealand pop over in June.

Whilst on the cricket though, it is worth mentioning that England will face Australia in the Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday – if you just get the chance to admire Sophie Ecclestone’s finger spin for a few minutes you’ll be in for a treat.

And it seems the weather has decided to act the silly sausage too.  Last weekend we were getting complaints that we’d run out of a couple of our Rosés whereas right now it’s gone so bloomin’ Baltic we’d probably struggle to give them away.  Oh, and look, the fuel prices are going up today too, what timing!

Returning to the scene of Mr Smith’s Sunday night slapfest, the real reason for the great and the good (and the not so good) to be assembled was for the Oscars of course.  It would seem that not only did Agent J win a Best Actor Oscar but he also was one of the lucky few to scoop the Oscar swag bag of free goodies that redefines excess and good taste.  Having trawled the gossip columns it would seem that amongst other goodies, the most expensive item in the bag is a $50,000 three-night stay at Turin Castle in Scotland, complete with butler service and a bagpiper welcome when they arrive.  Other treats include, according to our chums at E!News:

  • A $15,000 four-night stay at the Golden Door luxury resort and spa in California.
  • A $12,000 “Celebrity Arms” liposuction procedure from cosmetic surgeon Dr Thomas Su.
  • A small plot of land in Scotland, along with the title of “Lord” or “Lady of Glencoe.”
  • $10,000 of “treatments and rejuvenation procedures” from Dr Konstantin Vasyukevich.
  • A life coaching session with wellness expert Kayote Joseph, worth $1,200.
  • $25,000 worth of home renovations from Maison Construction.
  • A pair of TurboFlex glasses featuring a 360-degree rotating hinge.
  • An assortment of “Flavor wrapped” popcorn packages from Opopop.
  • A bottle of Ariti extra virgin olive oil infused with edible gold flakes.

Because, like, that’s what your average Hollywood A-lister needs, right?!

Meanwhile, back here in Blighty, Wayne & Alex have keenly tasted wines again and as a consequence have a couple of new listings worth a mention:

Amotera Vino Biologico Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2020 – £12.29 – a delicious white from Abruzzo with floral notes on the nose leading to some nice, easy orchard fruit character on the palate – a proper pre-prandial quaffer.

Another organic Italian white, this time from Sicily, is Colomba Bianca Vitese Zibibbo 2021 – £11.99.  Now, as you are all well aware, Zibibbo is more commonly known to us as Muscat of Alexandria and so has a charming nose of apricot, almonds and orange blossom.  What made us sit up and pay attention was the lovely dry finish it showed on the palate.  We’ve often been told that a dry Muscat is a great sparring partner to asparagus, which is handy as the season is just starting.  Oh, and a fun fact we just learnt,  asparagus has enzymes said to fight a hangover, which sounds like the makings of a very fancy breakfast!

In red we have Peninsula Vinicultores Vino de Montaña 2018 – £13.69.  This is a wine from high-altitude vineyards in Sierra de Gredos and other historic growing areas in the Sistema Central, the mountain chain that divides the Iberian Peninsula in its Northern and Southern halves.  This is a field blend based mostly on very old Garnacha vines but with some Rufete and Piñuela in the mix too, all grown on granite soil and in the glass we have lovely fresh red fruits and hints of white pepper – the altitude gives the wine a delicious freshness that one doesn’t always associate with Spanish reds.

And finally, an old favourite of Wayne’s, Ktima Gerovassiliou Avaton 2018 – £28.  As his tasting note states, this feels like a Bordeaux blend but with entirely the wrong grapes.  The reason for the wrong grapes is because it comes from Epanomi in Central Macedonia, Greece and the grape varieties are 60% Limnio, 20% Mavrotragano and 20% Mavroudi.  Try it, I think you’ll like it…

And that’s about it from us, we’ll be opening a couple of bottles of wine as usual this weekend with the Amotera Trebbiano doing the heavy lifting on the white front whilst the red team will be represented by Le Ciel Vide  – £13.49, from Domaine Treloar, in anticipation of Jonathan’s visit later in the month.

Over and out.


Friday, March 25th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we have been raising a quizzical eyebrow for many reasons.

Firstly, it’s our game face when we’re out tasting and we’ve been to four this week. You need a game face when tasting in order to avoid any embarrassment when a winemaker reveals the price somewhere around double what you were expecting for the wine you have just written “Meh” beside in that tasting booklet. It also helps to hide that the wine just taken on by a supplier with great fanfare is not coming anywhere near your shelf regardless of its reputation.

Then we raised an eyebrow at the Chancellor’s Spring Statement. Much was made by the press of the 5p cut in fuel duty, indeed Sunak even pretended to fill up a Kia Rio at a Sainsbury’s petrol station for a photo op.  It is, as usual, a smoke and mirrors exercise that will make no difference to the average family. If we assume the average driver gets about 10 miles for their litre of fuel, and on average drives around 10 000 miles a year then they will save a whopping £50. In the meantime their gas and electric bill has just risen by around £800.

We raised an eyebrow at news that David Cameron volunteers at his local foodbank a day or two every week. In 2004 the Trussell trust ran only two foodbanks, indeed many of us had never heard of them. According to the House of Commons Library, in February 2021 there were over 2200 food banks with the Trussell Trust running 1300 of them. David Cameron was elected in 2005.

We raised an eyebrow (we’re in danger of cramping any minute!) at the Volta a Catalunya as Mattias Skjelmose crashed on a descent, falling 10 metres down a ravine, climbed back up shouting “ I’m OK just give me a bike” got on that new bike to ride the last 58km and finished the stage in the top 10. Adrenaline is a powerful force eh?

An eyebrow was raised as we sat enjoying the sunshine in the garden sipping our morning coffee, we’ve not even put the clocks forward yet and we were basking in 18˚C. Muesli tastes so much better in the sunshine, doesn’t it? We’ll take this while we can, even at the risk of Wayne’s shorts arriving earlier than usual.

An eyebrow was raised as the head was shaken witnessing Joe Root go for a duck as the Final Test starts with an England collapse in Grenada. Being rescued by the biggest number 10 and 11 10th wicket stand since 1885 is probably not the look they were going for.

Whilst we massage our foreheads and relax our eyebrows into a less alarming position we thought we should open some wine for tasting.

We’ll stroll down a road less travelled for the white, Adobe Gewurztraminer 2020(£10.49) is an organic example hailing Rapel Valley in Chile. We think it’s just the ticket for this spring weather we’re enjoying.

Red wise we’ll visit Puglia for a glass of Verso Salento Rosso 2020 (£14.99). It is a rather winning blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo, Malvasia Nera with notes of plums and raisins nicely balanced with a hint of mocha in the finish. We are assured by the winemaker it is a great meditation wine, so here we are looking after your wellbeing.

Don’t forget the clocks go forward Saturday night so that late one may be later than you think!

Is it Spring?

Friday, March 18th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to another Friday in Wimbledon Park.  This week we’ve noticed the sun getting out of bed earlier and hanging around for longer.  The Sahara was nice enough to send some greetings sprinkled all over the car and there is a reasonable risk that the keenest of us might light the barbecue this weekend.

We finally found something we could all smile about in Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe finally making it home after many false starts over the last six years. Like many, we suspect her ordeal may have been considerably shorter if Johnson had been on top of his brief as Foreign Secretary.

He was again in full diplomatic mode this week as he visited Saudi Arabia hoping to strike a deal on some cheap oil.  Disappointed to find the champagne was less free flowing than when he’s normally at work, he came away empty handed without even a cake ambush.  Stories that the Saudis raised worries about the state of democracy in the UK and the loss of the right to protest could be wide of the mark.

Meanwhile, in Rwanda, a bat that has been missing for 40 years was rediscovered in Nyungwe Park.  After being scolded for being late for supper, the pair of Hill’s Horseshoe bats were measured and their call recorded to make it easier to identify them in future and then released. We’re glad to see they were shy rather than extinct and hope that the experts are able to keep them that way.

At the bottom of a quarry in Midlothian, Skyrora, an Edinburgh based rocket company, open the UK’s largest rocket engine testing facility.  It seems the space race is alive and well in the UK with spaceports now being developed in Wales and Cornwall as well as Scotland.  Call me old fashioned but wouldn’t pooling the resources into one site have been a good idea?

This week wouldn’t be complete without a cultural section mentioning that the Rolling Stones will be playing Hyde Park this summer celebrating their 60th Anniversary.  They are often a feature of our musical algorithm and tickets are on sale now.  Talking of tickets, Sigur Ros are coming to Brixton for a couple of nights in November and the tickets went on sale this morning.

On the sports front, we’ve had a mixed bag at the Cheltenham Festival this week; Alex is a tiny bit up and Wayne about flat, which is weird when it’s over hurdles!  Wayne’s had a farthing each way on Protekorat in the Gold Cup and also for Peter Sagan to win Milan-San Remo on Saturday.  It’s also Super Saturday for the Six Nations with Wales v Italy at 14.15, Ireland v Scotland at 16.45 and then France v England at 20.00.  We’re not sure how we’re going to fit all that in but will certainly be giving it a go and we haven’t even considered the cricket!

On the table this weekend we’ll be visiting our chums down under in Western Australia.

Flametree Wines have consistently maintained a five star rating from James Halliday since 2011 and we’ve long been fans of Cliff Royle’s winemaking (we’ve even had him pop in the shop!) we think he makes really tasty wines. We’ll have their 2020 Estate Chardonnay (£18.99) and the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (£19.99), so why not come down and sample their tastiness.


Wayne & Alex

PS  Monday 21st March we will be closed as we have several tastings to attend – many apologies for any inconvenience, perhaps grab an extra bottle on Saturday between games!

Endurance, Six Nations and Cheltenham

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Oooh, doesn’t life just get jollier with every week that passes!

Since last we met we have seen more lives lost in Ukraine, more people being driven out of their homes, more oligarchs sanctioned and still Russia attacks whilst days have turned into weeks in the ‘special military operation’ that should never have happened.

Further to our contemplations regarding the status of Mr Abramovich last week, it seems our words didn’t fall on deaf ears and he too now faces a bit of a squeeze – probably this won’t be quite as effective as it might have been a week ago but then what do we know…

We’ve also managed to lose not one but two famous Australian cricketers, the younger of whom could have been at school with us – just goes to show it can happen to anyone of us at any time, so seize the day everyone.

Wayne returned from his abortive search for the pet detective on Fuerteventura to the happy news that the ship he mislaid in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica 107 years ago has been found in pretty good nick.  However, he has decided to leave it there, since nowadays he is less about the boat and more about the bike, which is helpful when you live in a two bed flat and I’m not sure Mrs Wayne would be that pleased with a Bay Class Tugboat in the front garden considering her usual choice of Icebreaker is the trifecta of gin, tonic and lime…

What has come to our notice is that whilst the headlines have rightly been focused on the developing situation in eastern Europe, there is now a lot less about Covid that we can see and, more worryingly, the whole Partygate thing seems to have disappeared into the inside pages – we do hope Boris isn’t going to get away with this purely because of a change in media focus.

Sport can be a great distraction at times like these and we have an array of distractions on the horizon.  The England Cricket Team, post Broad and Anderson seem to be toiling towards a draw at the moment, although we can never underestimate our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Twickenham this weekend sees the Irish in town, with a team that now sees Jonny Sexton back at the helm.  Bizarrely, they have dropped Mack Hansen out of the squad but the good news for England fans is that they have brought James Lowe instead, plus his leaky defence.  England had a couple of Covid cases earlier in the week but the backing of Harry Randall at scrum half and the removal of Eliot Daly to the bench certainly pleased Wayne.

Then we have the Cheltenham Festival starting again next week, Wayne’s tips so far are limited to drinking Guinness and betting on an Irish horse – seems like a decent each-wayer to me!

We’ve teamed up with the lovely folks @posta_hug on Instagram and have a drop box here if anyone would like to send a message or letter of solidarity to a child, adult or parent in Ukraine. Check out their page for full details.

And now wine, because that’s really what we’re here for, and the tasting of it.

Today we’ll be opening Domaine de Morin-Langaran ‘Cuvée Caroline’ Picpoul de Pinet 2021 (£13.99) perennially popular around here and frankly we’re glad to see it back after the winery ran out before this was ready. We find it crisp and dry, with nice fruit and a touch of minerality, but why not come and taste for yourself?

For the red we’ll zip over to Marche in Italy, Belisario Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2020 (£15.99) is a medium bodied red from the town of Morro d’Alba. Flavour wise we’re looking at fresh dark fruits, a touch of floral character and maybe even a hint of cinnamon at the end. It’s weight and freshness make an awesome partner to salami and cold cuts.