Archive for November, 2012

Wines from Spain, Gran Reserva Rioja 2001, Arthur Road Christmas Lights

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s all thanks to you.  You never asked us to open here on Arthur Road, you never lobbied for extra wine shops, Merton Council received no petitions.  Nonetheless, we opened up here without so much as a by your leave, filled our shelves with fun you don’t find in Tesco, in Wine Rack, or the pub – put white wines and Champagne in the fridges, stuck some of our favourites in the window, put blackboards outside telling you what was going on and generally made a nuisance of ourselves.

And in spite of all this, you all came to visit us.

We opened wine on Saturdays, put on monthly Wine and Cheese tastings, got winemakers in to show you their wares, filled up 6 week wine courses, did private tastings at people’s houses/schools/churches, provided wine for weddings/christenings/knees up(s?)…

And still you came to see us.

We bugged you to ‘Vote for Us’ in Time and Leisure – you did, bless you – and we won Best Wine Retailer 2012.  Two Septembers on the trot, we inundated you with info and wine tastings from Chile – twice we came Runners-Up in the Wines of Chile Independent Wine Merchant Awards.

And you know what, all this has happened in less than 2 years.

So as they say, time flies.  Monday 3rd December sees us celebrate our second birthday, the onset of our third Christmas on Arthur Road, and the official start of silly season.

However since our big day falls at the start of the week, when we will obviously be drinking fizzy water and green tea, eating our five a day and going for a long healthy run, we’ve decided to pop celebratory corks this Friday night and Saturday.  Wayne also celebrates another birthday on Saturday (how many does one man need?), so frankly it will be taxis home come 8pm on Saturday night…

We had thought long and hard about how we could celebrate – too cold for a street party, speed dating would be too weird, some helpful customers mentioned a supermarket sweep style affair (thank you, but no), others a drink the shop dry event (must explain the difference between on- and off- licences), but then Spain rang us up and solved all of our problems: how about a Spanish tasting with some nibbles kindly provided by Brindisa? ¡hola!, we said to ourselves…

All we need is for every single one of you to come and see us over the weekend so that we can thank you individually for your support over the last two years and hopefully, via the medium of food and wine, we can bamboozle you into supporting us for the next 200 years!

As an enticement here’s what we’ll be opening:

  • Mas Macià Cava Brut NV – £9.89a fresh and creamy Cava with complex flavours of apple and stone fruits, herbal notes and some nutty yeasty influences from its time spent on its lees.  Good acidity and a long, crisp finish.
  • Macià Batle ‘blanc de blancs’ 2010 – £16.49 – A blend of Prensal Blanc and Chardonnay.  This stunning white is from Mallorca.  Local variety Prensal Blanc provides a light structure of herbs and white fruit character to set off the appley Chardonnay.  Think Condrieu meets Burgundy in a Spanish nightclub…
  • VIña Zorzal Graciano 2010 – £10.49this wine, from Navarra uses one of the lesser known Rioja varieties, Graciano.  We love this grape for its ripe, round, elegant fruit, its softly integrated tannins and gentle fruit development.
  • Bodegas Ontañón Gran Reserva Rioja 2001 – £25.49‘it has a traditional, dusty, sandalwood-scented bouquet, while the palate has a freshness and vitality lent by the acidity.  Fresh dark cherry, boysenberry and wild strawberry fruits combine well on the silky smooth finish that urged you to take another sip’ 91 Points – Neal Martin – Robert Parker Wine Advocate August 2012
  • Bodegas El Maestro Sierra Oloroso – £9.99 – Aged in solera for 15 years, this is a complex wine oozing hazelnut and spice aromas with a rich textured palate covered in nuts and spice once more.  Superb value especially given its complexity.  Wayne has his gaze firmly set on this wine, so if you want to try some I suggest you arrive before his sun disappears over the yardarm…

So that’s it – sport free, news free, no mention of Leveson, an email all about us this week, and of course you.

You never invited us, we turned up anyway, you checked us out, we stayed, we thank you!


Alex & Wayne.

p.s. As you’re all coming to visit us, why not check out the turning on of the Arthur Road Christmas Lights at 4.15.

Birthday drinks with Wines from Spain

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Two companies, with the fastest revolving doors in the business, both appoint new managers on the same day, who’s going to last the longest? Answers on a postcard please …Rafa Benitez at Chelsea or Tony Hall at the BBC?

As is traditional at Thanksgiving, Barack Obama ‘pardoned’ two turkeys yesterday, Cobble and Gobble. Reports they are looking forward to Christmas seem wide of the mark.

In Reading, Father Christmas was due to turn the Christmas lights on. In a break with tradition he arrived by zip wire. Well, I say arrived, his beard got caught and he was suspended for 40 minutes till somebody rescued him. Should have taken the sleigh!

Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting

We’ll have Sparkling wine from around the globe in a selection of colours, four different Champagnes and smoked salmon and other delicacies. At 8pm Thursday 6th December the cost is £25 per person and we have just a few places left. What are you waiting for? (Wine list attached.)

Birthday Drinks & Lighting Up

I mentioned the other day we’ll be hitting the terrible two’s at the beginning of December. We’ve linked up with Wines from Spain to do something special tasting wise.

Luckily it coincides with the turning on of the Christmas lights in Arthur Road, which is on Saturday December 1st at 4.15pm. So, no excuses!

Party & Gift Orders

We received a couple of party and gift orders this week, people getting in early and all that. I’m not mentioning this to make you feel stressed, disorganised or disgruntled. However, if you’re having a party and may want to borrow some glasses come and see us, we only have so many glasses to offer and we’d really rather not disappoint.

Planning on sending a gift but not sure what packaging? I’ve attached some piccy’s of what we have.

Cheese & Wine Tasting

Alex mentioned last week that we sold this out in record time. A few people showed interest in running another night, which we can do on Tuesday 11th December at 8pm if enough of you can manage the date. Let us know please, there is a lot going on.

Weekend Wine Tasting

This weekend we thought we’d go all a bit Southern hemisphere and show you all to the delights of Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2011 (£10.99) from Western Cape, South Africa and Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2011(£14.79) from Marlborough, New Zealand. We think both are perfect dinner party wines, particularly given the season.


Champagne Tasting!

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

No messing this week, straight down to business. 

We’ve been very kind to you thus far and not mentioned the C word, but as the temperatures rapidly descend and the nights get darker and the days shorter there is no escaping it, Christmas is on its way.  Less than 40 days if my abacus is correct and the big day still falls on the 25th.

However, between then and now plenty of fun is to be had, lots of late nights, mistletoe, Bluewater, Furbies, pre-Christmas Christmas lunches, family reunions and Champagne tastings.

Champagne tastings?

You see sometimes December needs a bit of a kick-start, and our kick this year is to hold a Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting evening, here in the shop, on Thursday 6th December at 8pm. 

Suffice to say it promises to be an awful lot of fun, we’ll give you an outline of how sparkling wines are made and how different countries produce different styles.  We’ll try Cava, Prosecco, Cremant, a couple from the New World, an English one and of course Champagne.  We’ll chuck a bit of smoked salmon on some plates, perhaps even take the crusts of some brown bread and polish up a dozen or so flutes all in the name of kick-starting the festivities.  Usual rules apply, we’ll take a maximum of a ten people, it will cost £25 per person, we take most modern forms of payment and this payment reserves your chair.  Call me, email me, come and see me – just make sure you don’t miss out!

(020 8944 5224 ; )

Our Christmas Cheese and Wine event sold out pretty much as soon as we confirmed it, but if enough people are still interested we could very easily be persuaded to repeat it, so do let us know if you’d be keen to see what goes well with Stilton, Cheddar et al and we’ll find a date.

Italy has moved

Not as exciting as it sounds really, all we’ve done is move Italy to the shelves at the front of the shop so it gets a chance to look out of the window for a change rather than just staring at the Champagne fridge.  However one of the reasons for the move was because it was getting too big (that was my second choice header – Italy getting too big! Pasta and Pizza prime suspects…) and the reason for this is that we keep on buying wine.  New Amarone, new Barolo, new Carema, new-ish Nero d’Avola, returning Nero di Troia, to name just a few.  We’ve also got an astonishingly more-ish Sambuca and a habit forming Amaretto, but we keep those closer to the counter for comfort.

Tasting this weekend

We will be, will you?  We’ve gone with Australia and Argentina this weekend, mainly because as we get closer to Christmas we will probably shift our focus more towards old world classics.  The red is Bodega La Flor Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Mendoza, Argentina – £11.99, a delicious Cab. with loads of blackcurrant fruit and easy tannins.  Good mouth weight and length, superb with lamb, venison and other game dishes.  Brilliant after my coffee on Saturday morning, and no doubt magnificent by 7pm that evening.  Should you fancy white, Broken Shackle Classic White 2011, South Eastern Australia – £7.99, is as you would expect from a country that names things as it sees them (Southern Ocean, Great Sandy Desert) – it’s called Broken Shackle and it’s a classic white, what more is there to know!!

So, that’s pretty much it from us.  One more good reason to look forward to Christmas though is the one-off Superstars Olympic special that the BBC are promising – Brian Jacks used to be the king, but I believe one of the Brownlee brothers might have all the answers this time around.

Oh, and that Ibrahimovic goal, just goes to re-emphasise the fine line that exists between success and failure!

Anyway, must go now, the phone’s ringing – someone for the Champagne night no doubt!

Alien Contact, Wines of Chile, Christmas gifts

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well it seems the BBC has forgotten the adage about telling, rather than being, the story for yet another week. They banned Professor Brian Cox from attempting to make contact with aliens as BBC bosses were worried health and safety laws would be broken. Who’d have thought there are already regulations and compliance to go through in case of communicating with aliens?

“Permission to speak, sir?”  We wish a sad goodbye to Clive Dunn this week, a man who has amused us since we were in short trousers.

Elsewhere in the world, Obama’s in, Hu’s on his way out, and Rod Stewart was in tears as Celtic beat Barcelona.

Chuffed in Chile

We are absolutely delighted to announce that for the second year running we were Runners Up in the Wines of Chile Independent Wine Merchants Awards. As you’ve discovered we’re pretty keen on the wines from there, Alex is even speaking at a debate in a couple of weeks.


It is getting to that time of the year, so if you have chums you’d like to send a case to, colleagues who deserve a bottle of bubbly for their efforts, or a cantankerous uncle who only likes Italian wine then “Don’t Panic” just come and have a chat with us. We’ve done gifts in the past for an art gallery, architects, bankers and barristers, not to mention a GP’s surgery!

Birthday – Terrible Twos

It’s our birthday in a couple of weeks so we’ll do something a bit special to celebrate, eyes peeled people, you wouldn’t want to miss out!

Tasting This Weekend

Finally our search is over! We have spent months looking for a white Rioja that was both interesting and worth its price ticket. Some have been delicious but too expensive, and far too many have just been dull as dishwater. Vetiver 2009 Rioja Blanco (£10.39) is both deliciously tasty and a decent price, so we’ll have this one open.

Keeping an Iberian theme we thought it high time to show you all a Portuguese red. We think the wine from Portugal are offering some decent flavours and excitement at the moment so will open Quinta da Falorca 2007 (£13.29) a rich spicy number from Portugal’s Dao region.

And Finally…

A speedy recovery to both Bradley Wiggins, and TeamGB cycling coach, Shane Sutton, both involved in cycling accidents this week.

Let’s be careful out there folks, look twice!

Wayne & Alex

Reasons to be cheerful – PX, Tokaji, Eiswein

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Reasons to be cheerful:

  • The clocks went back,  thus the sun crosses the yard arm sooner after lunch
  • You’re not a referee trying to run a Chelsea game
  • Halloween is now done, no longer will mutants be knocking on your door demanding sweets
  • Half term is nearly over
  • You’re not stranded in New York, and you’re alive
  • The face fur you’re growing for Mo-vember makes you look more Errol Flynn than Bruce Forsyth
  • South Park have aired in the US their ‘We all got duped’ Lance Armstrong special
  • You’re not a relative of Jimmy Saville
  • You’re not an Ash tree
  • The red wine season is now officially open, you can bag yourself a brace with no guilt!

Feel free to add your own reasons, this is just a selection that has been keeping us going/sane this week!

Red Wine Season

As mentioned above, the season is now in full swing.  Today I am expecting the return of my Rioja, Decenio, both the Crianza and the Reserva.  Also from Spain the ever popular Zorzal Graciano should be returning to the shelves.  Elsewhere, Italy will be getting a few new arrivals covering North to South, Les Clos Perdus will be joining us from Corbieres and a new very fabulous Syrah from South Africa called Tamboerskloof will be jumping into your shopping bags quick as you like!

Not forgetting the Whites…

Mulderbosch Chenin is back in, English fizz returns in the form of Gusbourne Estate and also back is our Austrian Eiswein by Hiedler.  Did I mention our new Tokaji 5 Puttonyos and halves of PX?   Now you know…

All this exciting new wine glut depends on the delivery drivers getting here, since as yet I haven’t seen any of them, but I remain hopeful!

Tasting this weekend

If the Rioja arrives, then I will be pulling the cork on the Decenio Crianza 2009 (£11.49), mainly because I haven’t had it for a while and we have missed each other enormously.  For the white I’m going to Austria, Turk Gruner Veltliner 2010 (£14.99), which we tasted again last week and my god does it remind you there is life after Sauvignon Blanc…

So, pop in and say hello any time today or tomorrow, lots of wine back in, bottles open, plenty of reasons to be cheerful!

All the best,

 Alex & Wayne