Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Election Special!

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas

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

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

Tasting this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Spiced Gin, Happy Birthday

Friday, November 29th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS

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

SATURDAY 21st DECEMBER 10AM – 8PM

SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER 11AM – 3PM

MONDAY 23rd DECEMBER 11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 24th DECEMBER 10AM – 5PM

WEDNESDAY 25th – FRIDAY 27th DECEMBER CLOSED

SATURDAY 28th DECEMBER 12PM – 6PM

SUNDAY 29th DECEMBER CLOSED

MONDAY 30th DECEMBER 11AM – 8PM

TUESDAY 31st DECEMBER 11AM – 6PM

WEDNESDAY 1st – MONDAY 6th JANUARY CLOSED

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

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

Tasting This Weekend

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

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

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

Pulenta Estate

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

Two sackings this week but only one appointment

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

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

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

£16,272

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

Staff planning visit and staff advance trip.

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

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

£22,208

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

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

Other news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now the exciting bit:

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

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

Have a great season!

Nina & Edu Pulenta

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

White

Estate Pinot Gris 2017 – £13.99

Estate Chardonnay 2016/18 – £14.99

Red

La Flor Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – £15.69

La Flor Malbec 2018 – £15.69

Estate Malbec 2016 – £22.99

Gran Malbec 2015 – £36.99

Gran Corte 2016 – £37.99

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

Final Wine & Cheese Tasting for 2019

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

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

One week to go…

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

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

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

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

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

Bon Weekend!

It’s that time of year…

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s that time of year…

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

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

Champagne

Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee NV – £70.00

Champagne Moutard Prestige Rose NV – £75.00

White

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018, New Zealand – £41.00 

Red

Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza 2016, Spain – £25.00

Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2015, Languedoc – £27.99

Meerlust Red 2014, South Africa – £29.99

Filus Malbec 2016, Argentina – £32.00

La Cote Sauvage Cairanne 2016, Rhone – £34.00

Chateau La Grave 2016 Medoc, Bordeaux – £38.00

JP Moueix St Émilion 2015, Bordeaux – £46.00

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

Tahi 2010, Roussillon – £50.00

Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2009, Spain – £52.00

Meerlust Rubicon 2014, South Africa – £58.00

Tasting This Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

New In!

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRANCE

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

Burgundy – Domaine Fournillon Chablis 2016 – £16.99

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

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

ITALY

Abruzzo – Collequieto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 – £10.99

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

SPAIN

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

Priorat – Marco Abella Mas Mallola 2015 – £27.99

USA   

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

SPIRITS

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

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

And then we went to Scotland.       

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

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

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

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

TASTING THIS WEEKEND

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

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

Where to start?

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Feast or famine.  You wait for a bus and then three turn up at the same time.  It never rains but it pours.  Then the floodgates open.  And all hell breaks loose.  At which point it’s too late to lock the stable door because the horse has already bolted.

Whilst many idioms may not make light work, they do help to define our mood.  Weeks, nay, months have passed when we have been struggling to find anything newsworthy to type about and now we face a glut with a very real danger that we might have to leave some perfectly interesting titbits rotting in the fields.

Irritatingly, much like a Times obituary for a famous, but slightly doddery and faded movie star, we have had this week’s missive written for months in draft form, with plenty of quotes from other famous people bereaving the end of an era in such tragic circumstances.  However, our dead-in-a-ditch-do-or-die dear leader has let us down again and as such we have no email to write – or rather it will be moth balled until January, or whenever.

But hang about, as referenced in the first paragraph, so much has been going on this week, the loss of one headliner is by no means an issue.  We can talk about other politics, we can talk about wine, we can talk about sport.

Politics.  Where to start? 

We’ve got an election on Alex’s birthday which was definitely not on his gift list.  So far, we have more than 50 MP’s declining to stand for re-election, with sadly too many of them citing the persistent abuse they get as a determining factor in their decision to step down; this figure is yet to match the near 150 who stepped down in 2010 but that was in the wake of the expenses scandal – from which they, for the most part, escaped abuse.   Outside of Westminster, Hugh Grant has been called rude by Sajid Javid over a handshake or in fact a non-handshake and McDonald’s has shown a complete ignorance of Northern Ireland’s history in their ice cream adverts in Portugal.

On the other side of the ditch, The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History turns another page as impeachment gets a bit closer for DT who, in a fashion typical of those whose power is being eroded at home, is in full distraction mode trying to get everyone to focus on events in Syria and how he is dealing with ISIS.  Then his favoured platform, Twitter, announce that they are going to ban political advertising – his campaign team immediately attacked the decision as “very dumb” – such an erudite and elegant retort could almost have come straight from the POTUS’ mouth…

Wine.  Where to start?

With Gin, of course.  With the increased popularity of multi-coloured fruit infused juniper potions the coffers have been steadily swelling and it is threatening to overtake Vodka as #1 spirit.  The Gin category, in all its shades and shapes has made a net contribution of £2.4bn in both on and off-trades was £2.4 billion in the year to June – according to the William Grant & Sons’ Trending 2020 report.  This is an increase of 45%, we’re told.  In the same period the Vodka contribution was down to £3 billion, a drop of 1.5%.

Very exciting news for Gin but can it keep this momentum.  It may have increased by 45% but it hasn’t taken much of the vodka share – and such impressive growth is hard to sustain without innovation and I’m not sure where they can go next.  Meanwhile, Vodka stands calmly in the corner in a sharp suit and trilby musing – isn’t Gin just a flavoured version of me anyway?!

Sport.  Where to start?

“I don’t know when I last had so much fun in a football game.” 

Thus spake Jurgen Klopp after the astonishing game against Arsenal.  Liverpool did win in the end so he was understandably happy. However you do feel with Jurgen that he would have said the same even if they’d lost.

And the rugby also got a little more exciting, for some of us at least.  The ability of the English to become sporting pundits at the flick of a switch will never cease to amaze us and this week has not disappointed.  From discussing lineout technique whilst browsing Prosecco to questioning the South African box kick strategy whilst discussing Burgundy, it’s been a lovely week of exchanging opinion and gently ribbing the opposition, safe in the knowledge that none of us know what will happen in the finals but are all secretly hoping for the best.  After the semi-finals last week, Eddie Jones could easily have used the rugby equivalent of Jurgen’s quote above and I don’t think anyone on the planet would have argued.  To keep a lid on any over-optimism, I’ll refer to Matt the Stat who pointed out yesterday the following:

Of the 8 WCs, NZ have lost one final, and won 3.

Of the 4 WCs that the ABs have not won, the team that eliminated them has gone on to win the trophy once (Aus 91).

In three cases (99, 03, 07) the team that beat the ABs went out in the next match.

And no, he’s not South African.

Game on…

On the tasting table this week

As it’s all about Día de Muertos this weekend we’ll be opening all our wines from Mexico.

Correct, we don’t have any.  We do however have a delicious red wine from Argentina – Lazos de Sangre Malbec – £22.49 which fits the bill well, having sangre in the title and translating as ‘blood ties’ which, after all, is what Day of the Dead is all about really.  Very much alive in the glass, dark and brooding, with a rich, dark fruited nose.  On the palate we have the same dark berry fruit, hints of mocha, smooth and spicy with exceptional staying power.  We wrote ‘really rather good’ which now feels like a bit of an understatement!

After all the disarray of last night, the makeup, the sweets, the spiders webs and the general derring-do we thought the a Czech wine named Palava – £23.99, might be just the ticket.  Located in Moravia, the largest Czech winegrowing region, Sonberk is a mid-sized winery that is considered by many to be one of the best in the country, producing elegant and noble wines.  Established in 2003 but with a history dating to the 13th century, the Sonberk vineyard is 45 hectares with an extraordinary view of the Pálava Hill – hence the name of the wine.  Crisp and dry but with some wonderful aromatic notes and a really long finish – awesome with some Indian spiced mussels, we’re told.

That’s about it from us – 4 spaces left on our Wine & Cheese tasting next Thursday 7th November should the mood take you and you have a spare £20 in your wallet and with that we’re gone…

Goodnight, and may your God go with you!

A mullet as a mascot – have we just time-travelled?

Friday, October 25th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, we’ve had quite a week haven’t we? Whilst some of us snuck off for some strolling in national parks, or sub-tropical swimming at Centre Parcs, our hardworking devoted MP’s not only worked on a Saturday but they also managed to pass a Brexit deal.  Incredible as that may sound, no timetable for the debate can be agreed upon, and so it is suspended.  The EU are suggesting a flextension till probably the end of January which we think will come in handy for plugging in the Christmas lights.

It looks like Boris has no confidence in himself and is angling for a General Election on December 12th. This is bound to interfere with not only the Departmental Christmas parties that the Ministry of Fun has been planning all year but, more crucially, the new Star Wars film due out on the 19th. Have you seen the trailer? Looks great – Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker all show up. It even suggests a possible good bye to C-3PO; I doubt there’ll be a dry eye in the house. I have to admit to getting a little excited and will be asking Alex for an afternoon off to watch it.

Of course, by the time you read this it will all have changed again anyway (the politics I mean, not Star Wars, do keep up!)

Rugby World Cup semi-finals are this weekend and this commentator thinks both games are too close to call. England have just named their squad and it seems Slade is out, Ford is in and hoping to drive the All-Blacks to the airport, whilst Farrell is happy to be in centre. Meanwhile the fact that a mullet haircut has come to be some kind of mascot tells us all we need to know about New Zealand. That’s breakfast in front of the TV for Saturday covered, whilst Sunday we have Wales and South Africa to interrupt the sausage sandwich. Probably I misunderstood, but I will admit to being concerned when it looked like Wales may call up Prince Charles.

Spurs seemed to have recovered their mojo this week in Europe at least, which is more than can be said for Southend United who celebrated Sol Campbell becoming manager by losing 1-7 at home to Doncaster. It’s a sorry state of affairs at the bottom of League One this season.

In wine news, wildfire is raging through Sonoma County in California at Geyserville just above the Alexander Valley, whilst in Catalonia an entire winery and restaurant have been washed away by flooding. In France, fashion house Chanel has bought Provence rosé producer Domaine de L’Ile on the island of Porquerolles. Chanel also own Chateau Canon and Rauzan-Segla in Bordeaux and St Supéry in California – it’s not all about parfum it seems.

Dining Room

If you’re quick you may be able to bag a place for tonight’s pop up with Francesca. When I spoke to her at lunchtime yesterday there were a couple of places for this evening.

https://www.dining-room.co.uk/

Cheese and Wine Tastings

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – Just a couple of spaces left – £20 per person

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – Four places left – £20 per person

Tasting This Weekend

On the white front, we’ll go with Arena Negra Chardonnay (£8.29). From Chile’s Central Valley this inexpensive delight is soft and fruity and just the right sort of weight and fruit flavours to go with that roast squash or pumpkin that’s for dinner.

The red corner we will be standing Flametree Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (£19.99) up for your inspection. It’s a cracking Bordeaux blend from Margaret River made by Cliff Royle, one of the regions finest proponents. Apart from that, Wayne just fancied it!

Lastly for all of you with children studying German, we learn that the word for “Withdrawal Agreement Bill” is Austrittsvertragsratifizierungsgesetzentwurf….

Perhaps run that past them if you’re helping with the homework.

Cheers!

Play Nicely

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And so we bumble on and I think once again we have more questions than answers

Many weeks have passed since there was much frivolity to speak of in the media and now as the mornings get darker and the evenings start earlier it does feel like we are slowly moving towards something but god only knows what and he’s taken the last train for the coast…  

Will Canning Town be the moment that Extinction Rebellion misjudged the focus of their protests and actually lost some support by mucking up people’s early morning commute?  Or has it served to make their message clearer – it may be inconvenient but something needs to be done now, not later?  Not sure the tube, that can carry best part of 5 million people per day, was the most sensible target – perhaps the lorries chugging in from Tilbury on the eponymous flyover nearby would have been a better focus.

Will Wayne’s best buddy, Boris, get the deal he has agreed with Europe past the disruptors in parliament?  Less than 48 hours for the MP’s to thumb through the legal jargon before their Saturday detention when they will have to discuss it all and ideally come to an agreement – and then, as always happens when you cram, they’ll have forgotten everything by Monday and start all over again.

Will Trump or Erdogan win Man of the Year?

In a world where you can now unlock your BMW with your phone, should we be worried that anyone’s thumbprint can unlock the Samsung S10 or that the Pixel 4 Face Unlock works when your eyes are shut?  Perhaps test your tech before you release it, chaps?

Video Games by Lana del Rey wins song of the DECADE at the Q awards?

250 tubes of Prosecco and Pink Peppercorn Pringles, that were a Christmas special here last year have been seized from a supermarket in the Veneto, northern Italy, home to the infamous sparkling wine.  There are strict laws in place preventing the use of the word Prosecco for anything other than the local wine and thus they are suitably up in arms about this as they feel it breaks these protective laws.  I think they’re right.  It was a crime against wine, a crime against crisps and the pink peppercorns should feel ashamed of themselves from getting involved with such a cheap publicity stunt.  Above all though, why wouldn’t you want to eat something containing ‘polvere di Prosecco’ or Prosecco powder to you and I?

Has Owen Farrell picked the right team to beat Australia?  Sorry, did I say Owen Farrell, silly me, I meant Eddie Jones.  Anyway, I’m sure dropping Ford won’t come back to bite us.  Farrell getting red carded for a no arm tackle and us being down to 14 men, now that’s what’s going to really hurt.  Then we’ve got Ireland against New Zealand straight afterwards so we might all need a stiff drink by 2pm on Saturday.  Sunday brings us confirmation that there will definitely be one Northern Hemisphere team in the semi-finals as Wales and France lock horns and then Japan meet their world cup rabbit, South Africa.

Imagine England, Ireland, Wales and Japan in the semis?  269-4 are the odds of this four-cast, should you fancy.

I think I mentioned needing a drink by 2pm on Saturday a moment ago however, I suspect some of us may need a libation before that.  We all drank rather a lot of the fine wines from Domaine Treloar last night courtesy of Rachel, Lady Treloar, so I think we might avoid the southern reaches of France for now.

Instead, we’ll open a white from the DO Ribeira Sacra in Galicia. 

Alma Larga Godello 2017 – £16.99 is from precipitous vineyards overlooking the river Sil in Ribeira Sacra.  The terraced vineyards here are really steep and contain vines even older than Wayne and, much like him, less productive over time!  The significance is that older vines produce better quality grapes as evidenced here, rich with citrus orchard notes, a touch of mineral and a lovely long finish – of course, Wayne produces better quality work, as evidenced every day!

And the red will be the Familia Cecchin Carignan 2017 – £13.99.  This is a bit off the beaten track in a way, a slightly unfashionable French grape variety surfacing in Mendoza.  What we have is a bit of old vine Carignan, organically farmed and utilising minimal sulphur.  The wine itself is packed full with red cherry fruit flavours with a little wood spice and leathery note.   Layered and complex, this is a wine that really delivers and for those interested in such things, it is both organic and vegan – ticks all round!

So that’s about it for us – let’s all play nicely and stay calm, we’ve  got a tricky few days ahead of us and that’s before we add half term into the equation!

Cheers

Ninjas, Cunning Plans and Cheesy Fun

Friday, October 11th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A story that caught our attention this week and put a good feeling in our bellies.

Eimi Haga got full marks for an essay she handed into her professor entirely written in invisible ink. She was studying Ninjas and to write up her essay on a trip to the Ninja Museum of Igaryu, she used an ancient Ninja technique called aburidashi. You make the invisible ink by soaking soybeans overnight then crushing them and squeezing out the juice. I suspect what really caught our attention was that you can go to University to study Ninjas. We might save the invisible ink recipe for a Weekly Wine in the future.

Whilst we’re on the subject of invisibility and espionage it seems Colleen Rooney has been up to mischief trying to find out who has been leaking stories about her to the press. The story is too dull and attention seeking to go into here but headline writers have run amok. It even made it onto Peston which I had believed to be a political comment show. Wagatha Christie indeed!

Internationally, Trumpolina has again out fooled his advisers, this time withdrawing US troops from Northern Syria and abandoning their Kurdish allies. Ergon Dunit surprised nobody by immediately invading, killing civilian Kurds in the process of fighting those self-same allies.  Impeachment meanwhile is moving closer with even a poll on Fox News stating that 51% of the population wish to see him removed from office.

Closer to home a much talked about deadline approaches with what seems like indecent haste. For those who have not kept up, Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, he prorogued Parliament, which turned out to be naughty, so everyone came back to Westminster and shouted. The Speaker lost his voice (dereliction of duty surely?). A slightly amended deal was put to the EU with customs checks conducted in a shed down the road from the Irish border with some bathroom scales and a tape measure for accuracy. The EU sniggered and is thinking about it. Meanwhile, Boris and Leo have met up in the Wirral for a pint and a chat about the possibility of having either two sheds, or just an honesty shed with a camera. Funnily enough, where they held their meeting was where Coleen Rooney had her 21st  birthday party!

Sources have leaked to us what we think might be a Dominic cunning plan…

  • Boris triggers a vote of no confidence in himself, triggering a coalition of national unity.
  • Given that the opposition agree that the only thing worse than a no deal Brexit and you as Prime Minister is having to work together, this would probably trigger a general election.
  • To wipe out short shouty man, and not split the Tory party would be a bit tricky.
  • How about a referendum on the ways and wherefores of leaving or not:  “We your humble servants are incapable of finding a way through the impasse”.
  • One can then campaign to Leave to keep short shouty man on board, but obviously not enthusiastically enough to win.
  • The referendum lost, we’d expect the EU to be so happy we’re not leaving that they’ll revoke Article 50 and have a party.
  • Then you can call a general election, win handsomely as all the opposition parties are in disarray at the audacity of it all.
  • Victory speech “As you were ladies and gentleman sorry about a spot of timewasting the last three years.”  Then you’ll have plenty of time to swan around in an ill-fitting suit quoting Herodotus.

That’s enough theory from us. In booze news this week, we heard that Seedlip continue to roll out the Emperor’s Wardrobe with the launch of  Nogroni. If the name wasn’t enough to upset you, I can’t help but think it’s not even a new thing. Similarly flavoured Bitter Kas is an alcohol free bitter aperitif that’s been available for donkeys years, both Alex’s Dad and Wayne have been known to partake on many occasions.

Careful if you’re out drinking in Dorset…The son of a millionaire market owner, was refused service at the Sandbanks Yacht Club in Poole on 20 September reportedly visibly drunk. The guy then lifted his top, showed the bartender the handle of pistol tucked into the waistband of his trousers and told the him: “Don’t be a pussy, give me a drink.” He was arrested later at his home, but incredibly magistrates agreed to delay sentencing until 4 December to allow this oik to head off on a month-long family holiday in the Caribbean.

Who knew Poole was so edgy?

Cheesy Fun

Thanks to everyone who joined us for last night’s cheese and wine tasting, an awesome evening was had. Thanks also to the fine folk at Beillevaire for the scrumptious cheese.

The next one is Thursday 7th November at 8pm. There are still a few places left at £20 per person.

Tasting This Weekend

It being National Curry Week we thought it would be remiss of us not to open a bottle of Munay Torrontes 2017 (£15.99). Crisp, dry and zesty fresh but with an aromatic profile that works really nicely with those spices.

On the red front we’re going to go with a Bordeaux. Chateau Grand Gamelle 2015 (£13.99) is an unoaked blend of 60% Merlot, 25 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc with lots of plummy fruit. Whilst claret might not be the first thought when pairing with curry, my friend Harry and I both think the young fruity style goes down a storm with the more earthy Punjabi style curries and the Sri Lankan devilled dishes.

The rugby is blown off so there are no excuses not to drop in and say hi!

Before we know it we’ll be launched headlong into December festivities…

Friday, October 4th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, his nibs has returned from his sunfilled sojourn abroad, looking bronzed and relaxed and catching the eye of the single ladies of Arthur Road (60+ category).  If I have to hear one more time how ‘this time last week I was wearing shorts and eating souvlaki in the sunshine’ or ‘why does it rain so much in your country?  When I was away I didn’t see a cloud for weeks’, I might just end up doing him a mischief!

Joking aside, it’s nice to have him back.  I can now pop out to the Coop for two minutes and get my lunch without running the risk of missing the delivery or courier that I have been waiting for since first thing; I can do local deliveries in the daylight rather than at 9pm and perhaps I might even get a day off – welcome back, Wayne, watch the shop whilst I pop out will you?!

Every year, with Wayne’s return, we hit a watershed in the Park Vintners calendar.  Up until his departure in mid-September there was still the occasional waft of barbecue in the air and memories of summer and bank holiday weekends filled with rosé induced siestas still remained fresh in the memory.  However, we’re now in October, it’s getting darker earlier, Rosé is turning into red and before we know it we’ll be launched headlong into December festivities.

With this in mind, whilst I’ve had a bit of peace and quiet, not content with listing the English bubbles from Hawkins’ Bros, I’ve been buying Champagne – to get the party started, if you will. 

First up, we see the return of the Champagne Thiénot Brut NV – £35.99.  This has been a regular guest on our shelves for the last few years and it’s great to see it back in its smart red livery.  Lots of bright fruit on the nose and palate and a touch of honey and nuts on the finish – quite a lot of wine for a NV style we reckon.

Then we have a couple of new additions.  First up we have Champagne Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut NV – £30.99.  Alex has long had a soft spot for Canard Duchêne, it being a fizz that often slides under many peoples’ radar whilst offering excellent quality and value.  A red grape heavy blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay this is a seductive and elegant drop with hints of floral, tropical fruits and a hint of pain d’épices.  The palate continues this theme and finishes with a lovely, lingering freshness.

And finally, as a replacement to the Moutard Rosé which seems to have been dropped by our supplier we have decided to have as a guest the Champagne Lallier Grand Rosé Grand Cru Brut NV – £37.99.  A blend of 35% Chardonnay and 65% Pinot Noir what most appealed to us was the fact that it has crisp, fresh fruit, a gentle pink hue and a lovely soft mousse – very tasty.

DINING ROOM

Not sure if we’ve mentioned this before but always worth a repeat.  For the last year we have teamed up with Francesca who runs a twice monthly pop-up in Wimbledon Chase, providing wine to go with her delicious menus.  We’ll let her introduce herself: 

‘Where to begin? In the old days, before kids and endless responsibilities I used to work in restaurants – Alistair Littles, The River Cafe, Chez Pannis and Rick Steins to name but a few. And then I set up my own restaurants – The Cow Dining Room and The Vale to name a couple. Late nights, relentless hours, not much sleep, all work and not much play! But then kids came along and I knew that working nights and weekends was over. I found a day job which luckily enough was working for Riverford Organics for the last ten years. It has been great but somewhere deep inside I have always dreamt of doing my own thing again. The Dining Room is only very small, only the very start but like all good things, I hope that it will grow – like the kids did.’

Her next evenings are Friday 11th and Saturday 12th October and if you’re interested in learning more, the best approach would be via her website – www.dining-room.co.uk – judging from all the reports back, you won’t be disappointed!

I’M A CELBRITY

Quite purposefully we’ve been avoiding a look at the news this week because most of it just feels like groundhog day reporting but one snippet that did catch our eye was the fact that ITV are planning on building an ‘I’m A Celebrity….’ theme park in Salford Quays, famous for its rain, less famous for its tropical rainforest – squeeze the franchise ‘til the pips squeak lads!

DOMAINE TRELOAR – Thursday 17th October at 8pm – £20 per person

Three tickets left for this brilliant evening with Rachel Treloar from the eponymous wine estate.  She was with us in May and it’s certainly not an evening to be missed.  As a teaser, we’ll be tasting:

White

‘La Terre Promise’ 2016 – 50% Grenache Gris, 40% Macabeu, 10% Carignan Blanc

Red

‘Le Ciel Vide’ 2015 – 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache

One Block Grenache 2015 – 70% Grenache, 30% Lledoner Pelut

Three Peaks 2016 – 39% Mourvèdre, 31% Grenache, 30% Syrah

‘Le Secret’ 2013 – 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre

‘Motus’ 2015 – 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Grenache

‘Tahi’ 2011 – 60% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache

Sweet

Muscat de Rivesaltes 2013 – 100% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

THIS WEEKEND

Wines will be open once more from 5pm today until close tomorrow and this week both come from Spain.

The white will be Val do Xuliana Albariño 2018 – £13.99 – a crisp, orchard fruited and gently mineral dazzler from Rias Baixas in the northwest, whilst the red will be a return to an old favourite, absent from our shelves for a couple of years now – Campos de Luz Garnacha 2017 – £10.49 – which is made from old vines in Cariñena up near Zaragoza and is a constant pleasure to drink.

So pop in and have taste, compliment Wayne’s tan and book up for Treloar – done!