Archive for August, 2012

Back to School

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The Stoke Mandeville Sports Event kicked off in big style this week and with 4,000 athletes competing, I’m sure we can look forward to thrills, excitements and disappointments over the next week or so.

This week also saw the annual Tomatino Festival in Buñol in Spain, where participants threw 120 tonnes of tomatoes at each other in a tradition that started in the 1940’s. Double-check where your passata is from is all I’m saying.

Channel 4 has come under fire for its presentation of the opening ceremony and I have to join in: Jon Snow, white suit with a white shirt, what were you thinking?

The story that gave me the biggest smile was about procrastination.  Craig from Bedfordshire bought a book entitled “52 Steps To Defeating Procrastination” and never read it.  I have to say that struck me as almost artistic!

Wine School

The six-week term starts at 8pm, Wednesday 19th September, here at the shop.  It goes on for 6 consecutive weeks, costs £150 per person, and in this time you will taste around 60 different wines.  Homework is all on a practical basis, and you can do as much as you want!  

Haven’t signed up yet?  Full details attached for those of you who’ve been boozing snoozing in the sun somewhere – there are just a few places left.

Cheese & Wine Tasting

Thursday 20th September at 8pm, four cheeses, with six or so wines (whites as well as reds) to match.  Tickets are £15 per person as usual, and there are a few spaces left…


For September we have teamed up again with Wines of Chile for a closer look at the country’s wines.

Chile is a long, thin, and many would say, fairly isolated country.  To put this in context, pin the top of Chile to John O’Groats and you’d find the bottom hanging out in Niger around the Southern Sahara!  

Isolated by the Andes that run the length of the country’s east, and then barely 100-150 miles to the west you’ll find the Pacific Ocean.  This isolation very often works in the vine growers’ favour since many vines grow on their own rootstocks, whereas in most other parts of the world this is not the case as vineyards have been ravaged (most notably in the late 19th century) by a root eating louse known as Phylloxera.  Chile is protected, and strict quarantine regulations aim to keep it that way.

The long thin nature of the country gives a variety of microclimates and different soils, all bringing little bits extra to the party.  Running along the coastline we have the Humboldt current, which brings a cooling influence to those vineyards closer to the sea such as Casablanca and San Antonio/Leyda.

All this folks adds up to some very interesting wines, which we hope to explore with you all over the coming weeks.

Tasting This Weekend


To ease us all gently back in to it, we will be tasting the three wines we carry from Oyster Shack.

These wines are all from the Central Valley which stretches south from Santiago, in the corridor between the mountains and the sea.  Within the valley are a number of sub-regions with specific geographical traits – Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua, Curicó, Maule, Itata, Bio-Bio and Malleco.  We will look more closely at these regions as we proceed through September, but for now we’ll keep it simple with the Oyster Shack wines.

We have Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chardonnay 2010 and Merlot 2011 they all cost £6.99 and will be open from this evening – see you after 5pm!

Transfer window closes at 11pm, put your offers in…

What happens in Vegas…I played by the rules…Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Poor old Prince Harry, a few late drinks, a game of pool, and before you know it somebody has papped the crown jewels.  What ever happened to chivalry and the rule “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?”

NASA announced this week that they are absolutely chuffed because Curiosity, their Mars Rover, has roved.  I, for one, would have hoped for loftier ambitions than that, given the trouble they went to get it there in the first place.

So it turns out that Asil Nadir did have his fingers in the till after all.

You can just picture it can’t you, Asil behind his big leather desk…Shall we transfer another £5 million to the account offshore?  The man from del Monte, he say YES!

Lastly, scientists in Japan have discovered that if you give gibbons helium, they sound funny just like we do.  How long till we have a gibbon soprano at the proms I wonder?

Tasting This Weekend

This weekend we’ll be heading out to Marlborough in New Zealand.  

A few new wines have crossed our paths from here, we’ve been given samples to try, so we thought we’d share them with you.  Usual rules apply – we don’t actually have any of these wines in stock currently and we would love your feedback as to whether they have a place on our shelves, or not!

2010 Free Sauvignon Blanc, Greystone River Vineyard 13.5% is made from organic grapes in the Wairau Valley’s Greystone River Vineyard.  A tiny part of the cuvee is fermented in French Barriques to add a bit of complexity and texture

2011 Ra Nui Sauvignon Blanc 13.5% – grapes are hand-harvested from two vineyards: Cob Cottage and Summer Valley, about 3km from Blenheim.  The vineyards are run organically and the philosophy is definitely for minimal intervention.

2010 Ra Nui Pinot Noir 13% – grapes for this are from the Summer Valley vineyard, and also the Delta Vineyard, which is one of Marlborough’s highest (cooler than the valley floor!).  Owner Steve Hotchin spent time at both Allen Scott Vineyards and Mt.Riley, and is helped out on the winemaking front by ex-pat Brit Hugh Girling.

2010 Petit Clos Pinot Noir 14% – a difference in style here, perhaps reflected by the fact that the owners are Domaine Henri Bourgeouis from Sancerre.  The vineyards are further up in the hills above Wairau, giving us a cooler microclimate.

It should be an interesting tasting and I, for one, am looking forward to it.  Pop along and join us, we are eager to hear your opinions!


Both the Wine and Cheese Tasting on Thursday 20th September and the 6 week Wine School that starts on Wednesday 19th September are filling up, so if you want to reserve a place on either, don’t forget to be in touch soon!

I think perhaps today the last bit should come from Lance Armstrong, his words not ours:

The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced.

Whatever that means.

Nice weekend one and all – and do please come and help us make our minds up about these NZ wines!

Tasting This Weekend and AFC Wimbledon

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I don’t know about you but I’m missing them already. On the plus side Test Match Special is burbling away in the background, but after our last go, we are still too shamefaced to put any Park Vintners predictions on the outcome.

What is the sudden obsession with David Cameron’s feet? I’ve seen an article moaning about his wearing brogues for the holiday snaps (should that be non-article I wonder?) and now Boris has been talking about pussy-footing around, kicking airports into the long grass!

Footie season starts off good and proper this weekend, good luck to AFC Wimbledon at home to Chesterfield.

The transfer window seems to be hotting up too, with news reaching us that AC Milan have signed a 10 year old girl from East Dunbartonshire, after scouts spotted her playing at La Manga on holiday. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Cheese and Wine Tasting – 20th September at 8pm

We mentioned this for the first time last week and already we’re half full. If your diary has free space you know where we are! Usual rules apply, 8pm start and £15 each.

Park Vintners Wine School

Our popular 6 week course starts again on Wednesday 19th September and finishes the week before half term, which would be the perfect time to host a dinner party and show off all your newly learned super powers!

Taste sixty or so wines, and learn where the bubbles come from. We promise no exams at the end!

Tasting this weekend

Given the holiday theme continues (it is August after all) we thought we’d taste something from popular destinations for those of us still in Wimbledon Park.

From Southern France

2011 Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet (£11.99) you’ll remember as a wine we twittered about during Le Tour de France as Bradley & co whizzed past, now’s your chance to see what the fuss was about.  Grown on vineyards only separated from the sea by Étang de Thau (a lake, oysters live here!) it’s a deliciously crisp, mineral wine with lively apple fruit flavours.

From Tuscany

2008 Cedro Chianti Rufina Fattoria Lavacchio (£13.89) is a new addition to the range. Organically grown on top of the Montefiesole hill at 400m the vines are 20-40 years old. The farm has a 250 year old Lebanese Cedar tree, is about 20km from Florence and also produces olive oil. The wine itself is dry, yet juicy, with some lovely woodland fruit flavours and a gently spicy long finish. But don’t take my word for it come and have a glass and tell me what it tastes of.

 Should you be planning a holiday in Chiantishire they even do a spot of award winning B&B!

 That’s enough from me for this week; see you all at the weekend!

Wine, Beer, Cheese and Wine Tasting

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well it seems that London 1948 is going better than expected. The ladies and gents on the bicycles have been fast and successful, as have the rowers and pedalos on the pond at Eton, and also those fierce ladies in the fisticuffs.

There have been tears, disappointment, equipment mall functions (broken stick in the pole vault was a tad dramatic!), and laughter too. I have to admit enjoying the fact that L’Equipe printed Dave Brailsford’s comments about “really round wheels” after the usual whinging and quizzing as to how the cyclists were so fast.

Also on the radio this morning I heard an interesting statistic: if food prices had kept up with house prices for the last 30-40 years a chicken would be £47. Now I don’t know if I should call a butcher or an estate agent, but interesting nonetheless.

Wine News

The nasty patches of hail continue with the third storm in a month to hit Burgundy. This time it hit the Hautes Cotes de Nuits and Hautes Cotes de Beaune areas. There has been barely a week since April that hasn’t seen some rain in the area.

Beer News

Sambrooks Pale Ale (£2.59) is back in stock and chilling in the fridge as I write this.

Beer Lovers don’t need me to tell them, but The Great British Beer Festival is on at Olympia and finishes tomorrow at 7pm. Pace yourselves!

Cheese & Wine Tasting

You’ve all been asking so we have pulled our finger out and come up with a date. Thursday 20th September at 8pm.

Many of you will be familiar with our cheese and wine evenings but for those of you who aren’t I can promise there will be no pineapple chunks on cocktail sticks.

We normally choose four cheeses, and then select six or so wines (whites as well as reds) to match. We’ve been known to throw in a beer or cider for good measure too! We then taste side by side and throw the merits of the choice open to discussion, which is where you point out the error of our ways. Sound fun? Then come along, tickets are £15 per person as usual.

Tasting This Weekend.

Keeping the Wimbledon Park taste buds tantalised this weekend we’ll choose from two countries that are better at wine than London 1948 sports.

So to start with Percheron Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2011 (£8.19) from Western Cape, South Africa, the sharp eyed of you will recall we had its Red sibling a couple of weeks ago. This is crisp and fresh with some lovely peachy fresh stone fruit character. We’ll follow up with Morton Estate Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir (£12.99). Its ages since we opened a New Zealand red and I think this will be just the ticket.

I think that’s it from us this week, have a great weekend and do pop in for a taster.

Grüner Veltliner, Mahi, Wine School & Txakoli

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Bit short on comment this week.  Absolutely nothing sport related to report upon, and it looks like this situation is going to continue well into next week. 

If only Andy Murray was in a semi-final at Wimbledon, or Bradley Wiggins was leading from the front, or the footballers were filling us with falsely high expectations… sigh, if only…

Wayne was telling me earlier how much he has been enjoying the competitive nature of the beach volleyball, specifically the Austrian team who, whilst coming from a land-locked country, seem to have adapted well to the concept of ‘beach’, even beating the Aussie’s apparently. Brazil also play, he informs me, and the USA.  Bikinis are far from obligatory, and in fact most of the gents choose to wear shorts and vests.

Frankel won yet again on Wednesday at Goodwood, with a fantastic starting price of 1-20, oh yes indeed, bet £20 and win £1 plus your stake back… time for him to move onto stud soon. 

Cricket is on in the north but, after my predictions last time, I have been obliged to refrain from comment.

Syria is also beyond comment, the banks, the government, the lawyers and the lawmakers are all holidaying on their yachts ,which makes for the usual August graveyard shift for the journos, so really all there is left to talk about is wine, and its consumption!

New in!

We don’t usually list new wines at this time of year, but these two pushed our buttons too hard to be ignored.

Türk Grüner Veltliner, Kremser Weinberge, Kremstal, Austria 2010 – £14.99  

Lots of words there, many of them quite difficult to get your teeth round.  The Krems valley is where the warm Pannonian climate from the east meets the cooler, oxygen-rich air from Waldviertel.  This warm/cool variation ensures the perfect conditions for the Grüner Veltliner grape.  The wine is elegant with great texture.  Grapefruit, pear and stone-fruit flavours linger on the palate that finishes deliciously crisp and fresh.

Try a bottle in place of your normal Sauvignon Blanc, see what you think!

Mahi ‘Twin Valleys Vineyard’ Chardonnay, Marlborough, NZ 2011 – £19.99

Wayne says:

‘I met Brian Bricknell from Mahi Vineyards in June, what a nice man!  He spent about 15  years making wine in various parts of the world, including a stint at Errazuriz in Chile, before heading back to Marlborough in 1996 with a plan (idea really).  He bought the Mahi estate with his wife in 2001, yet it was to be another five years before he gave up his job at Seresin Estate to focus on Mahi.   I was lucky enough to taste a few of his wines and was pretty struck with this one, if I’m honest.

The Twin Valleys vineyard is quite west, where the Waihopai and Wairau Valleys meet, situated on the upper terrace where it is quite cool.  The winemaking style is very non-intervention, using only wild yeasts (those already present on the grapes) and, for this wine, only the free run juice, which is then fermented and left to rest on its lees in French oak barriques.  The wine itself is lovely, with a really lively, zesty character, rich appley fruit, some oatmeal and oak notes (but not too fat!) with a great mouth feel and a long fresh finish!’

Wine School

Dozens of you have now enjoyed the 6 week wine school that takes place here in the shop.

You have had your eyes opened to grape varieties that you would have never considered previously, and you have confirmed the styles that you really do not enjoy.  You have considered food matches to different wines, and you have enjoyed bowls and bowls of water biscuits and breadsticks.  You have made new friends, and you have tasted over 60 wines.  You have woken up on Thursday morning saying to yourselves ‘I can’t wait until next Wednesday evening!’

For the rest of you who have not been on our course, details are attached. 

Simply put –

  • it takes place on 6 consecutive Wednesday evenings (19th September – 24th October inclusive)
  • evenings take place in the shop, commence at 8pm and usually wrap at about 10pm
  • cost per person is £150
  • aimed at the keen amateur eager to go beyond the Sauvignon Blanc/Merlot comfort zone
  • fun, informal, yet informative
  • maximum of 12 places available

The places are starting to disappear, so if this appeals to you, drop us a line before you go on holidays and give yourself something to look forward to for when you get back.

You can get hold of us on 020 8944 5224; email us on; or chat to us face to face on the shop floor (if you do that on a Saturday there’s always a danger we’ll ply you with wine whilst you’re here!)

Plying with wine this Saturday

We’re both guarding the shop this weekend which means that we’ll both need a glass of something to keep the conversation flowing…

We’re visiting Basque country for the white this week: the deliciously different and divisive Ameztoi Txakolina Txakoli 2011, Getariako Txakolina – £13.99. 

As you all know well, Txakoli is made from the local Hondarrabi Zuri grapes and is the perfect match for the seafood pinxos served in San Sebastian.  Fresh, appley with a delicious spritz, it has been likened to the wine equivalent of a wet sponge on a hot day – refreshing!

Sticking with Spain for the red, Albizu Tempranillo 2011, Rioja, – £6.99

Certainly one of our best-selling red wines this is made within the Rioja region but not declared as such because it has been made more as a table wine for immediate enjoyment.  Plenty of exuberant, primary red fruit character here without being over bearing, very juicy and a great all-rounder. To eat, a nice pork loin with plenty of garlic and some salad leaves always appeals.

The Albizu is one of the wines, in this month’s 6 bottle, Wine Club selection – so come and give it a taste and ask about the club.

To finish as I started, if only there was something to look forward to, some athletics perhaps, synchronised swimming even…