Archive for September, 2012

Wines of Chile

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

To our mind there is absolutely nothing better than a good old fashioned grudge match, whether it be the Ashes, any sport versus the French, or just trying to beat your wife at a ‘friendly’ game of tennis.  Losing is not an option, all the glory is for the winners, no prizes for second place.

And this weekend we have the Ryder Cup.  Us (Europe) vs US (them).  Brilliant.  We’ve got Rory for glory, Sergio and Luke with fantastic records and fancy pants Poulter to stir up the crowds.  Them, they’ve got Tiger, Bubba and Snedeker, who apparently is ready to “beat their brains in”, however that translates onto a putting green.  Oh, and we beat them last time.

If you think golf is boring, this is the one weekend that will change your mind.  Do you think if I now mention that it’s live on Sky SportsTM, that they might give me a subscription…?

But apparently it’s not all about golf.  There’s cricket to be played in the T20 World Cup (now including the champagne super-over), football seems to have torn up the rule book (Villa beating City?) whilst JT resigns from England duty and gets a fine that only a footballer could afford, and the mighty Quins go from strength to strength.

The weather seems to be claiming much of the north and, if this is what happens in September, I dread to think what December might bring.  Joking aside, there has been some pretty horrendous weather in Bordeaux early this week and it is probably fair to warn you that 2012 will be a ‘difficult’ vintage, globally.  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc production is down 40% for example, and yesterday they had the first rain in Jerez, Andalucia, since April.  The rain in Spain stays mainly on … York.

So, as any good wine merchant should say, we strongly suggest you all stock up with as much wine as possible, as soon as possible!!

A propos of nothing, stats just into my inbox

Supermarkets’ value share of the market: 81%

 Impulse (the Majestic, Wine Rack, Bargain Boozers) share of the market: 19%

 Independents’ share of the market: 3%

That means that on Arthur Road for every 3 bottles we sell, Wine Rack is selling 19, and the Co-op is selling 81!  Gosh…

After all this good news, I think I need a drink…

And so, as September closes its doors, we reach the last week of our ‘don’t be silly, drink wine from Chile’ extravaganza.  We started in the far North at the end of August and we now find ourselves journeying ever further south towards the Bio-Bio Valley, via Maule.

We have two wines on show this weekend, from the same producer, Aromo.  We have been selling these wines since well before Park Vintners was even a glimmer in his daddy’s eye, and have always been impressed by the quality of the wines they produce.

Aromo Viognier 2011 £7.99 – from the Maule Valley, where Aromo make their home.  Our friends at Wines of Chile tell us the following:

Located 250 km (155 mi) south of Santiago, this traditional and long overlooked wine valley—the largest and one of the oldest—has attracted renewed and much-deserved attention of late. Old-bush, dry-farmed vineyards that predate the memories of those who tend them now produce exciting, naturally balanced field blends of Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and other yet to be identified varieties. Newer plantations include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Carmenere with bright acidity and juicy fruit.

Ok, so they don’t mention Viognier, but we believe they make a really good version with plenty of ripe fruit and a nice clean woomf of acidity on the finish.

Finally we reach the Bio-Bio Valley.  Wines of Chile say:

Located 500 km (310 mi) south of Santiago. Warm days and cold nights make for a long ripening season, but the Bio Bio’s higher rainfall, strong winds, and broader extremes make for more challenging conditions than those of Chile’s more northerly regions. Winegrowing here requires more patience, skill, and nerve than in other valleys, but a daring few have taken the plunge and invested in new plantations of cool-climate varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Early results show their efforts paying off in exciting wines with naturally fresh acidity.

Moderate Mediterranean climate. 1,275 mm (50.2 in) of rain per year. Average rainfall is among highest of all Chilean wine valleys, although winds prevent humidity. Conditions similar to northern France.

We will be showing the Aromo Winemaker Selection Pinot Noir 2010 £10.49 – as you can see from the notes the climate is perfect for Pinot, the silky, elegant, lush red fruits really showing beautifully in this wine.  I really think Pinot could be the next big thing in Chile, you heard it here first!

So come on by, taste some wine and try out some funky little glasses that one of our customers has just introduced from the States.

We’re open now, come and ask us about wine!


Time & Leisure Food and Drink Awards 2012 Best Wine Retailer, Clos des Fous Chardonnay, Vina Chocolan

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Wayne is back from his holidays, but be reassured there’ll be no pictures furore; he kept his shirt on the entire time.

People Power

Forget Facebook (though we’re always happy to have friends!)

Forget Twitter (you can follow us @parkvintners)

Look what you all did with the power of your clicks, texts or phone calls….

Time & Leisure Food Awards 2012

Best Wine Retailer…PARK VINTNERS

We would like to say thank you everyone so to celebrate we’ll be offering free wine at the weekend…

Tasting this Weekend

Alex has been keeping all your Chilean geography up to snuff and we will be carrying on this week.

Clos des Fous Chardonnay 2010, Cachapoal – £14.39

Four mad guys go terroir hunting in Chile and settle in Cachapoal, a region 85km south of Santiago. This wine is from Alto Cachapoal in the East, at the foothills of the Andes. The Chardonnay sinks its roots into the gravel and sandy soils soaking up the Mediterranean style climate. Along comes one of the mad guys who spent 6 years working in Burgundy (Vosne Romanée no less) a specialist in small batch fermentations and as quick as you can say ‘Chile’ he has rustled up this delight. Fresh citrus fruits on the nose, medium to full body…why not come and try it yourselves.

Vina Chocalan Reserva Cabernet Franc 2011, Maipo Valley – £14.29

No mad guys here, Vina Chocalan is a family owned estate with about 100 hectares. Six of which are planted to Cabernet Franc on the Pacific side of the Maipo Valley where they too enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Chalky soils with a little clay make for some terrific Syrah from here, but we particularly liked this Cabernet Franc. Rich with the beautiful floral notes that we love about Cabernet Franc we think it would be a delicious match with some pan-fried pigeon breast. Come along and tell us what you’d drink it with.

That’s us for this week so stop by, taste wine, look at our certificate and bask in our thanks for you all being so supportive.


Alex & Wayne

Andy Murray and Bob Dylan

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Speaking as a thoroughbred Scot (my wife is quarter Scottish) I was delighted to see my good buddy Andy Murray finally win an Open.  I always knew he could do it and it was most certainly not me that said he was no better than Henman or Bates, lacked stamina and that crucial killer punch – I must now go and eat my hat!

Continuing the theme of confused ancestry, it seems that a row is simmering regarding the next Olympics (the ban has been lifted and we can say the word with impunity).  Anyway it may be 4 years away, but questions are being asked of Rory McIlroy.  Will he play in golf’s first outing at Rio and if he does, who will he represent?   Being Northern Irish he has a British Passport, so GBR claim him.  But golf in Ireland is ‘done’ as an island without borders, so the Irish Golf Union, who have funded him over the years, and who he has represented in international competitions, claim him for Ireland. 

Awkward.  Expect more press coverage of this over the years to come.

And a big prize to me for managing to start the countdown to Rio 2016 less than a week after the Paralympics have finished!!

Anything else happening?  The Hillsborough Independent Panel report looks set to turn South Yorkshire Police on their heads, the naked rambler has been put in prison again (this time for refusing to co-operate with social workers tasked with assessing his mental health!) and  Bob Dylan dismisses plagiarism accusations in inimitable style, quoted in Rolling Stone magazine:

“Oh, yeah, in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It’s true for everybody, but me. There are different rules for me.”

“Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff.”

Oh, to be a musical deity…

Last call

It’s all going on in the shop next week, and now is your last chance to get in on the action.

Wine School:  you’ve patiently listened to me marketing this course over the last few weeks, so I will keep this short and bullet pointed –

  • 6 week course , starts 8pm Wednesday 19th September, here in the shop
  • Whites, reds, rose, fizz, sweeties, wine faults will all be attacked over the 6 weeks
  • £150 per person
  • Approx. 60 wines tasted and savoured over the course
  • Notes and relevant information all provided
  • As many water biscuits as you want to eat
  • Learn more about what’s in your glass in a friendly and relaxed environment
  • Increase your range of wines you like

Still a few spaces remaining, first come first served – phone me, email me, visit me – they all work as methods for booking your place!

Wine and Cheese Tasting: I very much enjoyed the bullet pointing, so will use them again now –

  • 8pm, here in the shop, Thursday 20th  September
  • Taste wine
  • Taste cheese
  • Taste them together
  • Chat about them
  • Repeat for 1 ½ hours…
  • £15 per person
  • Again, as many water biscuits as you would like, who knows we might even mix it up and get some Matzos or something…
  •  It’s cheese, it’s wine and it’s a Thursday night – what’s not to like!

Again, I only have a couple of places available, so come and join us for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  I’m here, standing by the phone, awaiting the call…

Wine this weekend

And still we are travelling through Chile.  Having conquered the northernmost valleys very successfully last week, we now move onto the Aconcagua Valley and then to Casablanca.

Courtesy of the Wines of Chile (WOC)website, I can relate the following about the Aconcagua Valley:

Located 65 km (40 mi) north of Santiago. At 22,828 feet (6,956 meters), Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, towers over the valley and its snow-capped peak lends beauty and essential water to the valley below. Red grapes have long grown in the interior, but new coastal plantations are proving the valley’s potential for white wines as well.

Viña von Siebenthal Parcela #7 Gran Reserva 2009, £16.99 – absolutely the bees knees.  40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 

Bordeaux gets the Chile treatment via Switzerland (Mauro von S. left the Alps for the Andes in 1998).  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 a claret.  Oh, and did I mention that it was top wine in its group at the Wines of Chile Sommelier Chile Challenge?  Still not wowed?  Well, let me just finish by saying that it was absolutely gorgeous with a hunk of spice rubbed roast venison a couple of weeks back!

Again, courtesy of the WOC website, the Casablanca Valley:

Located 75 km (47 mi) northwest of Santiago, the Casablanca Valley was first planted to vine in the mid-1980s. It quickly turned a page in Chile’s winemaking history. Chile’s first cool-climate coastal region soon turned out crisp, fresh wines that caught the world’s attention, and Chile’s search for new terroirs was on. Cool Mediterranean climate with pronounced maritime influence. 540 mm (21.2 in) of rain per year. Proximity to the ocean creates cool foggy mornings ideal for top quality Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

Clearly Echeverrria Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011, £11.89 is the appropriate wine to taste from here.  Echeverria are a family run estate that has been in the wine business since the early 20th century.  The entire family works in the running of the estate, and most of their holdings are around Molina in Curico.  Being awkward however, we chose this wine of theirs from Casablanca Valley, particularly enjoying its crisp, fresh fruitiness and long finish.  Food wise, try grilled mackerel, or maybe some chicken fajitas with spicy guacamole.

That’s it from me, the sun’s creeping out from behind a cloud, might it be a nice weekend?


Clear as gin!

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

An extraordinary thing happened to me earlier this week. 

You know how you carry on your life month in month out, and time passes by quickly, and you get tied up in your day-to-day existence, and before you know it a whole year has passed, and that meet-up you said would definitely happen in a few weeks has never happened, and now it’s almost forgotten about…

Well, the other day, I stumbled around the corner and BANG!, blow me, if it wasn’t Summer just standing there with a ‘bet you never thought you’d see me again’ smirk on his face (because Summer would be a he, something to do with being unreliable and letting people down)!

‘Where the hell have you been?’

‘Europe, like the rest of the sensible people, but school holidays are over now, so I thought I’d hang out in Wimbledon Park for the next few days, drink some rosé, perhaps even come on your wine and cheese tasting on Thursday 20th September…’

I was impressed he knew the date.

And in the real world

Life goes on, cabinets get re-shuffled (shouldn’t it just be shuffled as it’s the first time of asking), east London still seems to be paved with gold, Mr Murray marches on and Prince Andrew skids backwards down the shard.  The best quote I heard was from one of the esteemed gents who descended after HRH, commenting on the panorama from the top:

‘The view was breath-taking, you could see the south coast, clear as gin!’  Clear as crystal, your days are numbered…

And in Wimbledon Park

For those of you that may have missed the announcements, we have two events coming up shortly.

Our 6 week Wine Course returns after the summer recess.  This starts on Wednesday 19th September and concludes on Wednesday 24th October, just before half term, very neat.  It takes place at 8pm and lasts between 1 ½ and 2 hours, and the whole course costs only £150 per person.

You’ll learn about whites, reds, fizz and sweeties plus you’ll get to try, if you want, some faulty wines to educate your palate – if you learn nothing else you will at least have tasted about 60 wines over the course, and you’re bound to like some of them.  Previous alumni have gone on to enjoy wine for many years, and this, I think, is not a bad premise.  So book a babysitter, or tell your other half they’re in charge of kids for the next six weeks, grab a likeminded pal and head on down.

Spaces still available, phone me or email me or visit me, I’m not fussy, and the wonderful world of wine will be demystified for you!

Then, Thursday 20th September sees another return – the Cheese and Wine tasting evening.  Again this starts at 8pm, costs £15 per person and is always an exciting night.  In a nutshell, drink wine-taste cheese-chat about it.  But it’s so much more than that, it’s food and wine matching heaven, new discoveries are made and common myths exploded, who could ask for more?

As before, phone, write, visit, you know the routine.

And in Chile

Wayne set the Chilean ball rolling last week and I will continue his theme.  We trod carefully last week with the Central Valley, this week I will be venturing to the northern end of the wine lands, visiting the Limari and Choapa valleys. 

The Limarí Valley is located 470 km north of Santiago and is both an old and new wine region. Vines were first planted in the mid-16th century but more recently winegrowers have been making good use of the cool sea currents just off the coast and the morning fogs, the combination of which creates fresh wines with a distinct mineral edge – De Martino Legado Reserva Chardonnay 2010 £12.49 – is our representative here.

The Choapa Valley is located 400 km north of Santiago at Chile’s narrowest point, where there is no distinction between the Andes and the Coastal Mountains. This small, very dry valley, which historically has been coupled with Limarí, consists of two sectors, Illapel and Salamanca.  Neither have wineries in place as yet, but vineyards planted on rocky piedmont soils are producing limited quantities of high quality Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  De Martino Legado Reserva Syrah 2010 £12.49 – is our choice here, as I said, there are no local wineries so De Martino make the wine.

That just about rounds it off from me, wines open from 5pm this evening, rosé wines installed in the fridge, butcher has ordered more sausages and is sticking meat on sticks as I write, so let’s do it!


Alex & Wayne