Archive for March, 2013

Best savoured with spontaneity and deep belly laughs

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,


  • Much longer is this brilliant weather going to go on for?  I played golf last Sunday in the snow, the equivalent event last year was in shorts.
  • On earth did we manage to draw the Test in New Zealand?
  • Much longer are we going to bother having a national football team?
  • Did Lewis Hamilton explain stopping in his old team’s pitstop to the people upstairs at Mercedes?
  • Much good does David Milliband’s departure to New York do for the overall perception of the Labour party?
  • Will they keep the pasties warm at Lower Sticker’s Annual Cornish Pasty competition (-6.7c today)?
  • Much chocolate can two children eat on Sunday?  More than their mother?
  • Many of you are still in the office?

Well now, it’s the longest free holiday of the year, ‘Evacuate London 2013’ is in full swing and we are on hand to fill your boots with fine wines to take the edge off the tailbacks and the tantrums that come as part of this exodus.  We will even have some wine open too, for the non-drivers.

For those of you not departing, here are our Easter opening hours:

Maundy Thursday       11am – 8pm

Good Friday                    11am – 3pm

Easter Saturday            10am – 8pm

Easter Sunday                CLOSED

Easter Monday               CLOSED

Tuesday                             Back to Normal, or as close as we ever manage…

So for those of you who are feeling thirsty, we will be opening the following:

Wairau River Pinot Gris 2010, Marlborough, New Zealand £14.99 – the nature of doing what we do often results in text messages from friends in various states of decay saying ‘do you sell so-and so?’, ‘this wine list is impenetrable, here’s a photo, tell me what to buy?’, ‘my mate works at this vineyard and reckons the wines are awesome’… This Pinot Gris falls into the last category.   I, in fact, have met the ‘mate’ in question, at an 18th birthday party, in a pub, 20 odd years ago – not sure whether this is the best basis for buying the wine, but I digress.  We’ve all changed over the years and I now work in a small wine shop in Wimbledon, he is the Ops manager at a top Kiwi estate, and I now sell his wine.

And it is awesome.  A beautiful, ripe apple and blossom nose, a similar palate with a bit more weight and luscious fruit all capped off by an elegant, long finish.  As they say on the label ‘best savoured with spontaneity and deep belly laughs.’  Can’t remember the last time I read that on a French wine label.

‘Nez intense, arômes de fruits rouges, fine note boisée.  Bouche ronde et fruitée, finale persistente’  is in fact what it says on the next wine – Chateau La Rose du Pin 2009, Bordeaux, France £11.99 – bit of a treat for Wayne and I really this, 2009 Bordeaux, soft and approachable Merlot dominant blend, trust me, you won’t like it.

Speaking of things you won’t like, Hiedler Weissburgunder Eiswein 2007 , Kamptal, Austria £29.99 should probably be perched top of that list.  This doesn’t have a nose of tropical ripeness, the mouth is certainly not flooded with lush, beautifully rich, sweet fruits nor does it have any crisp clean acidity to finish it off.  Lousy, don’t bother.

Come and see us, taste some wine, discuss Easter eggs – it’s what we’re here for.

Happy holidays!

On the subject of weddings…

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So it turns out budget day is a lot like Red Nose Day only without the jokes, charity, or record breaking sums.

Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina have discovered “that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress, and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger. In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men.” So gentlemen, that breakfast in bed on a Saturday morning could tactically be a good idea…just saying…

Poor old Alex is beside himself with the sad news that Girls Aloud are calling it a day after all these years.

Finally, on a slightly more obscure tack, news reaches us that Jedi Knights could soon be making Scotland ‘their intergalactic wedding hub’ . 

On the subject of weddings…

You’ve found a venue, started going to church intensively, invited a hundred fans, found a caterer who is not going to charge you more than Gordon does at Royal Hospital Road, agreed on a honeymoon that combines beach and culture (and a golf course?), got a wedding list at John Lewis, booked the fancy car, ordered button-holes, maybe even tried on a dress or two… but have you sorted out the drinks? 

And this is where we become your best chums ever.

A bit of email tennis confirming food choices, number of guests, pet hates etc and suddenly you are  standing in our shop living the adult version of ‘kiddie in a sweet shop’.  We pick out a couple of bottles of bubbly, two or three whites, a similar number of reds, and perhaps even a couple of sweet wines and you know what, let’s open them up and try them all!!   Genius, we should get married more often!?!

So if you are getting married, or you know someone who is, then come and talk to us and see if we can help.  Between us over the years, we have supplied the wine for dozens of weddings, so have a very clear idea of how the whole thing works – and you get a fab tasting to boot!

Tasting this weekend

This weekend we thought we’d start in the white corner with a wine from Germany. Riesling Trocken Reichsrat Von Buhl £14.99 is not one of your lederhosen wearing confected Liebfrau things that give us all the horrors. This is a grown up dry Riesling from Pfalz, where the Riesling has a little more weight, giving us a lively fleshiness to the palate.

In the red corner we’re going with Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon £11.99 a classic Californian Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. A medium-bodied with silky tannins and cinnamon tinged bramble fruit, but don’t take my word for it, taste it for yourself.

So there we have it, two wines for after the kids have been put to bed and the grown-ups can have a drink. Perfect for the “after eight thirty” club.

Nice weekend all,

Wayne & Alex

Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon, Albarino, New Pope

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,


It’s been quite a week hasn’t it? Tough for Argentina, democratically losing the Falklands and your Archbishop in the same week has to be tough! On the bright side they gained a Pope so I guess that’s chalices of Malbec all round.


The cricket didn’t end as badly as feared and this week’s test has certainly got off to an interesting start. Arsenal demonstrated the perils of only showing up for the second half whilst Barcelona showed how to do it properly.

Horse Meet

Did anyone notice last week’s tip for the first race at Cheltenham (Champagne Fever) romped home at 5/1? We’re looking at Long Run in the Gold Cup if anybody is interested. Having written this last night we’ve now heard the Today show on Radio 4 tip it, so are a little less confident than we might have been. Go with your first instinct though!


Red Nose Day all over your TV this evening so we’ll leave it to the experts.

 The Man Who Would Be King

A happy 80th birthday to Michael Caine for yesterday, who once said “I am in so many movies that are on TV at 2:00 a.m. that people think I am dead.”


Next cheese and wine evening is Thursday 25th April at 8pm with still a few places left come along and join the fun.

Wine School

We finished this term on Wednesday evening with a stunning selection of champagne and sparkling. The next term starts Wednesday May 1st and costs £150. If you would like to broaden your mind and palate buy tasting 60+ wines then sign up.

Californian Wine

A few of you have been asking us about Californian wine lately so we’ve been looking into it a bit more. Wayne was lucky enough to meet Russ Weis, General Manager at Silverado vineyards this week.

Silverado are situated, funnily enough, on the Silverado Trail directly across the road from Shafer Vineyards. Silverado were one of the first farms to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in the Stags Leap District, which is now synonymous with great quality Cabernet Sauvignon. Having tasted a few vintages on Tuesday it’s easy to see why, rich and elegant at the same time, the wine is a real treat.

As we write we are waiting for our delivery of 2008 Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon – £36.99, hopefully by the time you read this the man with the van will have been.

Wines this weekend

It being St. Patricks Day and all we thought we’d taste Martin Codax Albarino – £12.99 which clearly isn’t Guinness but is from Galicia, a part of Spain that has very strong Gaelic connections. Staying with Spanish thing we’ll go with El Bon Homme – £10.99 which is from Valencia with less of a Gaelic connection. That said we think St Patrick was probably a good bloke.


Early Close

This Friday and next we’ll be conducting tastings away from the shop so will close early at 7.30 pm. Now we know most of you have been through by then and are already tucking in but thought wise to let you know.

If you’d like us to conduct a tasting at your house you’ve just got to ask!

That’s it from us we’re going for a Long Run!

Venison, Beetroot, Roast Potatoes

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Guess what – food is bad for you again.  Even more disappointing is the fact that it’s not lentils and celery that are the culprits but beloved bacon, sausages and ham.  Not quite sure where this leaves the Italians though.


But if we’re not going to eat bacon butties anymore how about we start working through our mountain of muntjac?  Apparently we need to halve the deer population if we are to avoid the ugly prospect of Bambi fighting with Fantastic Mr Fox over the contents of your dustbin and the best solution is to eat the blighters.  This year a whole new culinary adventure has begun for us all with venison burgers and horse bacon – next up Hot Dogs and Kit Kats?


Berlusconi gets jail time and probably won’t even spend a night behind bars, our preparation for this summer’s Ashes continues as expected, Man U and their beetroot-hued manager exit Europe, and Wayne informs me that Justin Bieber managed to alienate his entire cashflow earlier this week by turning up to his concert 2 hours late, at which point all of his fans had to go to bed.  If you want more detailed coverage of the concert, please email Wayne directly…

Last week we celebrated being Welsh and I think that anyone who tasted the Cambria Chardonnay on Saturday will acknowledge that this Welsh named wine from California knocks a lot of Burgundy straight into touch.

Roast Potatoes

Continuing with weekly celebrations, this Sunday sees the annual ‘cook Mum lunch and buy her flowers’ event – Mothering Sunday. 

Now, we can’t recommend one wine more than another to celebrate Mum being marvellous but historically something with bubbles in always puts a smile on the old girls boat race.  With this in mind we will be opening Mayerling Cremant D’Alsace Rose Brut NV £15.49 this weekend.  Pale salmon in colour with lovely fresh, bright strawberry and cream soda character on the nose and on the palate we have the same fruit balanced by a beautifully clean and fresh finish.  If you feed Mum enough of this she might not notice the burnt roasties and soggy broccoli!

Alongside the fizziness we will be opening some samples we have been sent and asking you to help us make buying decisions – we have four wines from Rioja, one from Argentina and two from South Africa.  To prove that this process works, those of you that savoured the Argentine samples 2 weeks ago will be pleased to see that four of the six wines we tasted are already happily ensconced on our shelves.  Perhaps it may not look like it, but we do listen to you and value the feedback.


It’s the start of a new month which means that the March Wine Club cases have been selected and are ready to be delivered.  If you’re wondering what we’re talking about imagine a mixed case of 6 bottles costing you just £50 delivered to your front door by our smiling couriers.  Each month is a different selection, they come with tasting notes and food recommendations and seem to be extremely popular.  There is no tie in, if you would like it you pay for it and we deliver, if you don’t fancy it one month then we ignore the pay and deliver bit and wait until the next month. 

We also do a six bottle selection for £100 if you feel like something a little fancier.

Both selections are attached, drop us a line if you’re interested in signing up.

So that’ll be us for this week, we’ve got Champagne Fever in the 1.30 on Tuesday at Cheltenham for obvious reasons – any further tips gladly received!

Careful what you eat.

Sir David, St David, Cambria Chardonnay – Iechyd da!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’ve never said this before but what a victorious week it’s been to be Welsh!

In the rugby, we (because we’re all Welsh today) thumped the Italians in their own backyard 26-9.

In football, the Swans crossed the border and trounced the extremely dangerous Bradford in the League Cup Final 5-0. 

Yesterday David Brailsford, honorary Welshman, fluent welsh speaker and the man behind all of Britain’s cycling success, became Sir Dave.

And today, we round it off by celebrating St. David’s Day, anniversary of his famous victory over the nine foot nutter, Goliath.  Okay not strictly true, but when you learn that St David (thank you Wiki) lived his life according to the following, you do start to wish that perhaps there was a little more stone-slinging about him:

The Monastic Rule of David prescribed that monks had to pull the plough themselves without draught animals, must drink only water and eat only bread with salt and herbs, and spend the evenings in prayer, reading and writing. No personal possessions were allowed: even to say “my book” was considered an offence. He lived a simple life and practised asceticism, teaching his followers to refrain from eating meat and drinking beer.

Beer is verboten, but clearly wine is fine in his eyes, so if you want to have something today to go with your leek and daffodil pie then might I suggest Cambria ‘Katherine’s Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2007 (£22.99) or Cambria ‘Julia’s Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2009 (£24.99).  Both come from Santa Maria Valley which is in Santa Barbara, California, both are extremely fine examples of top notch wine production and, of course most importantly, both are called Cambria.

Georgian Wines

Moving away from the valleys, many thanks to all of your who put your palates to the test with the two Georgian wines last weekend – for those of you that didn’t make it down you really don’t know what you missed out on.   Really.  However, despite all the helpful feedback, I have decided that we won’t be listing either of the wines now, or at any time in the foreseeable future.  I know, disappointing….

This weekend

There’s an old, and frankly little used, wine trade adage that states ‘Whilst Wayne is away, Alex will always put a posh bottle on tasting’.  In honour of such a tradition, and indeed to honour the valley dwellers, I shall be opening the Cambria Chardonnay this weekend.  To complement it on the red side, I will open the Espiritu de Argentina Shiraz 2011 (£9.99) that hails from Mendoza, Argentina (another country with welsh influences).  Argentina is commonly associated with Malbec so I thought a Shiraz would make a nice change, and, if we ignore the fact that we had some Argentine samples open last weekend, we haven’t formally tasted anything from here for almost a year!


As you are all no doubt aware, it is my daughter’s birthday today.  You must be aware because it seems that every conversation for the last week has revolved around this, every person she has seen has been reminded and heavily laden hints have been dropped regarding preferred gifts.  Being are resilient/bad father I have failed to provide her with

a)      A present

b)      A party

c)       Any excuse

The trouble is she doesn’t drink wine and I don’t sell birthday cards, but do rest assured she will get everything she deserves!

So if you happen to bump into a little girl with an ‘I am 7’ badge on in the Pig & Whistle tonight, do me a favour – buy her a pint or better still, a hamster!

That’s all from me, Iechyd da – as my mate Morgan would say, look forward to seeing you all for a drop of Cambria Chardy.

Alex (& away Wayne)