Archive for October, 2012

James Bond

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

“That’s pretty potent.  Not the cork.  Your after-shave.  Strong enough to bury anything. But the wine is quite excellent.  Although for such a grand meal, I would have expected a claret.”
“ Of course. But unfortunately, our cellars have run out of clarets.”
“ Mouton Rothschild is a claret. And I’ve smelt that after-shave before, and both times I smelled a rat.”

Oh yes, he’s back.  The man they call Bond, James Bond.  Skyfall premiered on Tuesday night, Wayne lent Bear Grylls his special Saturday night strides, the red carpet groaned beneath celebrities ranked from A to Z, and they all drank Heineken and Martinis into the wee hours.  Hopefully only the Martinis were shaken, otherwise it could have been a touch messy…

But, as you see from the opening quote from Diamonds Are Forever, times have changed a bit for Mr Bond.  Clever wordplay about First Growth Claret has given way to, well, lager.  WKD, Magner’s, Hooch – get those cheque books ready, there’s a new film due in a couple of years.

Doesn’t mean to say we won’t go and watch the film though!

Otherwise the week has carried on in its own sweet way.  Some brilliant results in the Champions League, Malaga beating AC Milan, Olympiakos beating Montpellier and Borussia Dortmund beating Real Madrid – not sure if any English teams were playing though, perhaps not…

Cycling is still taking a battering, the Kick it Out anti-racism t-shirt standoff seems to be getting more polarised on a daily basis, and two Olympic medallists lose their medals sometime between midnight and five in the morning – if you know you’re going out late, dancing and perhaps even carousing a little, maybe don’t take the most valuable thing you own with you, chaps?

“Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something.”

Loving these Bond quotes, managing to waste many hours ‘perfecting’ the accents!

Anyway, I suppose I best talk about wine now.  As an opener, you can have red wine with fish, Pinot Noir with tuna is a common favourite, but perhaps not the bottle of Chianti to go with Sole that Bond is referring to.

We finished our wine course this week, 6 weeks of vinous discovery rounded off with a foray into the world of fizz. 

As ever Moutard Grande Cuvée (£26.49) was highly acclaimed, as was our new vintage Champagne, Chassenay d’Arce 2004 (£33.99).  From the non-champagne side the dry Mayerling Crémant d’Alsace Rose (£15.49) and the Mas Macia Cava Brut (£9.89) both showed that there is oodles of quality to be enjoyed outside the realms of Champagne, and the Emeri Sparkling Shiraz (£13.49) became everyone’s guilty pleasure.  We’ve also formulated a strategy for ‘a day of bubbles’ starting at breakfast and finishing after dinner, but this is still Top Secret, I’m afraid.

So what shall we taste this weekend?  Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand (£16.99) and Domaine des Pierres Blanches 2008, Faugères, France (£9.99), simply put.

Greywacke is the pet project of former Cloudy Bay winemaker, Kevin Judd.  When I say former, he was the winemaker for 25 years from its birth until his last vintage in 2009.  In 2009 he decided that the Cloudy Bay world was not enough, and that he should set up his own label and thus Greywacke was born.  Universally acclaimed with near Universal Exports, this is a golden opportunity to taste what all the fuss is about!

The Domaine des Pierres Blanches is one of the wines that we fell in love with at a southern French tasting earlier in the year.  Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre from the hills above Beziers, just east of St Chinian, this has dark fruits, herby spice character and a rich mouthfeel.  Faugères Eyes only….

That is probably enough bad wordplay for this week, I must apologise, please don’t unsubscribe, I think you’re all Thunderball!

Halloween next week, trick or treating, ghostly pumpkins, scary skeletons, enough to scare the Living Daylights….

Park Vintners Will Return!

Awesome Sauce

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Where to start this week? I think we’ll start with something relatively low key.

Some of you may have heard of a horse called Frankel. He’s been relatively successful so far, and has caused a somewhat unseasonal sell out at Ascot this weekend, where he will be running his last race. By all accounts he will then enter an entirely different training regime, lazing around in the fields, chatting up the ladies: bet he can’t wait!

Rolling Stones tickets are HOW MUCH!

Awesome Sauce

Now, I know we always deny sitting around tasting wine and shooting the breeze with our chums from the wine world, but sometimes it just has to be done.

On one such occasion, over the summer, we met a couple of very nice chaps, Tom and Paul, who are agents for a small champagne producer: Chassenay d’Arce. We tasted several of their wines (it’s work I’m telling you!) and filed them under ‘To Be Listed’.

Well, they are here (the Champagne, not Tom & Paul) and Awesome Sauce they are too…

Chassenay d’Arce Cuvée Première Brut – £33.99 – an appealing blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay which has a beautiful lemon/gold colour and a fine, vigorous mousse. Rich and elegant on the palate, with apple fruit, honey and spicy floral notes. In short, it’s delicious.

Chassenay d’Arce Blanc de Blancs 2004 – £40.99 – is a pure Chardonnay, matured on its lees for 5 years. Golden coloured, with a persistent fine mousse and pretty acacia and white fruit aromas. On the palate it is crisp and delicate with a lovely elegant tension between citrus and honey notes.  Way more exciting than some of the more famous vintage champagnes knocking about.

If you need an excuse to drink some champagne, just ask, we have an extensive excuse list, from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Claret shelves restocked!!!

“I hover over the expensive Scotch and then the Armagnac, but finally settle on a glass of rich red claret. I put it near my nose and nearly pass out. It smells of old houses and aged wood and dark secrets, but also of hard, hot sunshine through ancient shutters and long, wicked afternoons in a four-poster bed. It’s not a wine, it’s a life, right there in the glass.” ― Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World

Cheese & Wine Evening

Is this Thursday, 25th October, at 8pm. As I type this there are 2 places left. You know you want to come, but have you just missed out?

Tasting This Weekend

We shall bring our Rhône extravaganza to a gentle close this weekend and open up Vignes du Prince Côtes du Rhône (£8.99) which is made by Celliers du Prince, the only co-op in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape area. When we tasted this wine with our chum Adrian, we thought ‘an inexpensive Rhône red from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape vineyards, what’s not to like?’

We will also open Domaine de Coyeux’s Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (£11.99) if only because it’s ages since we opened a sticky. Don’t say we don’t spoil you!

And finally…

A happy birthday to Tarzan, who is 100 today.

Aaah aaah aah aah aah!!!

Rocky Head Pale Ale

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’ve been people watching this week…

We watched as Australian PM Julia Gillard showed the leader of the opposition the perils of choosing the wrong battleground. 

We watched as The Rolling Stones (a band that’s had even more birthdays than Wayne) released their first single in seven years. (Thought it sounded pretty good too!)

We watched as the USADA unveiled their case against Lance Armstrong (and it seems pretty damning to us). It’s tough to lose seven titles I’m sure, but you know what, I guess it really wasn’t about the bike.

We watched as Steve, the man with the keys at Rocky Head Brewery brought us our first shipment of…

Rocky Head Pale Ale 6.5% – £3.00

A truly handmade (hand bottled and labelled for that matter!) beer, packed with an enormous amount of New Zealand and North American hops giving it a beautiful floral character. Unfiltered and bottle conditioned, it is a really satisfying brew, exuberant and fully flavoured. We feel pretty honoured with this, being the first people outside the brewery to taste it and now one of the first to sell it.

Oh, and I almost forgot, the brewery is only about a mile from the shop. You couldn’t get much more local than that unless Alex starts with his barley wine in the cellar!

Keep your Spirits Up

We know the nights are drawing in and the sharper eyed amongst you will have noticed our spirits section has got a little more crowded. We’ve added Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac (£45) which has a character more akin to most houses XO. Indeed it won the Cognac Trophy at the 2003 Wine & Spirits Competition beating all the XO’s in the process. We’re fairly sure it comes down to the large portion of older matured cognacs in the blend (some is 40 years aged) adding a rich, mellow complexity.

We’ve also added Salizá Amaretto (£24.99) which is distilled from only the finest peach kernels by Bepi Tosolini, probably Italy’s finest distiller. It’s a little drier than some, which we find makes it seriously moreish.

There are other delicious post prandial delights too, so come and have a browse.

Taste This Weekend

We’re still droning on about the Rhône (sorry couldn’t resist it) so will kick off this week with a glass of Domaine les Chenêts Crozes-Hermitage (£17.99) a family run estate in the northern part of the Rhône who, until 1993, used to sell their grapes to other more famous estates.

The grape here is Syrah and, when we tried it, we were bowled over with its lightly spiced red berry fruits and touch of pepper in the finish. Food matching I’d say it’s a delicious partner to Sunday’s roast pork, but if you’re feeling more adventurous give Mark Hix’s pigeon tagine a go, it is game season after all.

Often we find a fantastic bedfellow to a good red Rhône is a crisp and zingy white from the Loire Valley.  We see no reason to upset good bedfellows, so the white on tasting will be the Val de Loire Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£8.99). This Sauvignon Blanc is from the vineyards of Valencay, which are about 80 km south-west of Sancerre, and thus share similar soil types.  Crisp and dry with elegant, grassy fruit character and a seam of precise minerality, we think of it as one of those must have wines that are always in the fridge.  Food match?  Goats cheese, goats cheese and perhaps goats cheese!

So come on over and sample some French wine pleasures, it’s what weekends were invented for!

World’s Best Bitter, Rhone

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We read this week David Blaine is planning to wear a chain mail suit for three days with a million volts passing through it. Two questions come to mind…Why? … and who is quoting odds for the Darwin Awards?


Here at Park Vintners we like to talk about winners, so I’ll start with the Ryder Cup. Well played chaps, and a great quote from Capt. Olazabal “All men die but not all men live and you made me feel alive again this week”.

We have been telling you all for ages but now it’s official. Wandle is the Best Beer in the World having won World’s Best Bitter up to 5% Pale Beer 2012at the World Beer Awards 2012. Congratulations to Duncan, Mary and the crew at Sambrook’s.

Come and taste it at the weekend!

Wine & Cheese Tasting

Fancy a spot of Wine & Cheese action? Me too!

Thursday 25th October at 8pm. £15 gets you a chair at the table and the aforementioned Cheese & Wine. With four cheeses, six wines and something cheeky to finish, what’s not to like?

Rhône Valley

Alex and I are fans of the region generally, but don’t often get much of a chance to feature it. Given that it’s been a good friend to us over the years we thought it was high time to change that.

We’ve had a chat with our chum Romain who is able to spend a bit of French taxpayers’ money on this sort of thing and have got a competition going.

There are scratch cards in-store and the chance to win a pair of wine glasses, a bottle carrier or if you’re really lucky a trip for 2 to the Rhône. It’s easy, buy a Rhône wine, scratch an entry card, pack your bags.

Tasting this Weekend in Wimbledon Park

Wandle (£2.59) – World Champion beer – see what the fuss is about.

La Fleur Solitaire 2011 (£10.49) – Grenache Blanc, Viognier and a splash of Marsanne and Roussanne are the grapes here, giving us rich stone fruit flavours. Fabulous with that brace of Partridge you ordered from the butcher.

Cairanne Cuvée du Belvédère 2009 (£11.49) – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are the grapes here, giving us a smooth, rich palate with cheery cherry fruits and it’s just starting to pick a bit of savoury character. Try it with a beef and mushroom stroganoff.

That’s it for us this week.

Happy Birthday Mr Bond, nobody does it better.

Wayne & Alex