Archive for April, 2013

Chianti Cedro, Arthur Road, Cidre Breton, Time & Leisure

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Happy days are here again, the sun is shining, the rosé is in the fridge, as is the Cidre Breton and thus we’re altogether more jolly this week.  Many things have made us smile over the week, here is a quick snapshot:

  • The fittest man in football made his debut for Guernsey FC in their 4-2 defeat by local heroes, Colliers Wood.  Welcome back Matt Le Tissier, what was your nickname again?
  • Luis Suarez gets banned.  He should also get muzzled and vets with tranquiliser darts should be on hand whenever he is out in public.  Animal.
  • The trainer for Godolphin claims he thought his use of steroids with 15 of his horses was fine because they were in the off-season.   Oh, and this is the same stable that decided not to renew Frankie Dettori’s contract for 2013, due to his recreational drug use.  Seems, perhaps, that the basic rules on drugs in horseracing need to be made a bit clearer.
  • Germany show Spain how to score goals.  Twice, in two nights.  Mourinho’s face…
  • Chris Gayle scores 100 off 30 balls.
  • We avoid triple dip.
  • After a year of Merton Council stupidity they have re-instated the 20 minutes free parking on Arthur Road – press the green button, get the free ticket, buy a steak from the butcher, come and see us for wine, get back in the car, job’s a good’un.
  • The London Marathon went off hitch-free, made us all very excited, so we’re signing up to run it next year, who’s with us?!

Time & Leisure

It’s not easy winning anything.  It takes hard work, good support, a dollop of luck and a touch of being, perhaps, just that little bit better than the others.

The only thing harder than winning a trophy once, is retaining it the following season.  Never happens.  Just imagine if Sir Alex Ferguson, Roger Federer, or Lance Armstrong even, had managed to capitalise on their early promise, consider how amazing it would be if they had kept on coming back and winning year on year!

Keener to be associated with the first two names on the list (rather than the disgraced habitual drug cheat), we come to you with our begging bowls in hand/hearts on sleeves/destiny in your hands.


Ideally, we would ask you to select Park Vintners.  I’ve just voted, Wayne has yet to do so but I have high hopes, and if as many of you as possible could put ‘x’ in the correct box we would be oh so very thankful!  Voting closes on 12th July I believe so you will be receiving reminders…

Or you can text Time03703 to 81400 which is charged at 50p plus the one standard network rate text, whatever that means.

Looking down the list of different nominations in other categories I notice local seafood specialist The Fish Peddler in there, and I wipe away a tear.  I’m sure many of you have visited Roger in Southfields and bought a nice chunk of turbot and some brown shrimps for Friday supper, ordered your smoked salmon for Christmas, treated yourself to some scallops over the years… well I’m sorry to say that this will no longer be possible come the end of next week.  It would seem that battling daily the combined forces of the Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores within feet of his shop has finally taken its toll and Roger is hanging up his apron for good. 

He’s always been good to us, he was a local independent trying to make a few quid in a marketplace awash with big bullies, and we’ll miss him.  Good luck Roger, sorry to see you go.


Just a quick recap, a few places left on our Wine School that starts next Wednesday 1st May at 8pm,

  • 2 hours a week, for 6 weeks, tasting wine…

And if you fancy a warm up, this weekend we’ll be cracking open the Cidre Breton £4.75/litre to give you all a glimpse of life beyond Magners.  We’ll also open the recently returned Fattoria Lavacchio Chianti Rufina Cedro 2008 £14.39, which is a lovely, rich yet elegant Chianti with cheery cherry fruits, a touch of spice, some fine tannins and hints of earthy minerals.  It was a big hit last summer and it should be again this.  Plus it’s organic.

So that’s us for this week – a missive that encompasses Matt Le Tissier, triple dip, cider and voting is a mighty rare beast and you saw it here first!

Alex & Wayne

You’ve earned it, not just today but the whole of your life, you have been earning this glass of wine!

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s been a distressingly sombre week, with very few laughter moments, so I feel a bit of whimsy is called for.

You’re born.  You grow up, you go to school, you become a teenager.  You rule the world for a few years because you now know everything.  Perhaps you then go to University, become a nurse, join the armed forces.

You go out for drinks.  You find suddenly that you’re going out for drinks more often with just one person.  Suddenly that person is stealing half your duvet in the middle of the night and resting their cold feet on the back of your legs.

Sod it – would you do me the great honour of…. etc .  You get married, you smoke cigars.  You give up cigars in order to be allowed back in to the marital bed.  You carry on going to work.

Children arrive.  You smoke cigars again.  This time you really do give them up when you see yourself in the mirror looking more Churchill than Tom Selleck.  You sell your flat, buy an estate car, start to seriously consider the merits of owning a shed.  And a lawnmower.  Before you know it you have all of the above, plus 6 fish, a dog, a hamster and more High School Musical DVDs than is safe.

Someone, your Mum usually, mentions schools.  What do you mean schools?  I only just left… twenty years ago.  Blimey.

And so it comes to pass.  It’s 8.30pm, kids are in bed, dinner’s in the oven, time for a cheeky glass of wine.  You’ve earned it, not just today but the whole of your life you have been earning this glass of wine.  Respect it, enjoy it, sniff it, swirl it, savour it, luxuriate in it – this is what it’s all been building towards. 

But what is it?

Erm, I think it’s a Sauvignon, but it might be a Chenin Blanc, I’m not sure, but I quite like it and the bloke in the wine shop rattled on about citrus and acidity and balance and mouthfeel and apples and floral blossom and good long finish and… aaaah, why don’t I know more????

Because you haven’t had time.  In your Mars life of work, rest and play, you have never actually had the chance to appreciate your drinks.  You can change a car tyre, juggle spreadsheets, juggle even, snowboard, cook a mean Paella and explain the nuances of being offside to a six year old, but you still haven’t got a Scooby what’s in your glass.

Time for us to offer some help.

Our offer

How do you fancy a couple of hours a week, for six weeks, out of the house, tasting wine?  We’ll provide spittoons (still in mint condition, but there just in case!) and some gentle education. 

The first week we’ll learn how to taste wine and you will get to practice with at least 8 different wines.

Weeks 2 and 3 we will continue our tasting practice with many different white wines and different grape varieties – let’s say about another 20 wines.

Week 4, Wayne will guide you magnificently through the wines of Bordeaux and their alter ego’s in other regions of the world.

Week 5, more red wines, from all over the world.

Week 6, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

In amongst all this we’ll try some Rosés, some sweet wines and examine common wine faults.  We’ll also discuss food and wine matching and cellaring.

You’ll try in the region of 60 wines, and if nothing else, by the end you should have a fairly good idea of what you do and don’t like, and you’ll have discovered a number of new grapes that you hadn’t previously dared to try.

Sound good?  The course starts on Wednesday 1st May at 8pm, and wraps up on Wednesday 12th June.  There is a week break (Wednesday 29th May) for half term, or as we like to call it, a revision week.

It costs £150 per person and we provide everything you need.

To recap

  • 2 hours a week, for 6 weeks, drinking wine
  • That’s probably enough of a recap…

As they say on those marvellous TV adverts, our team are here and ready to take your call on 020 8944 5224.  Or you can email us – – or pop in and see us, which is by far the best idea, because we’ll have wine open to taste tonight and tomorrow.

Wine open to taste

Wow, I’m slick.

Wayne’s off on his bike somewhere this weekend, so I’m in charge for once.  Pandemonium.

Whilst I would love to open every bottle in the shop when the guvnor’s not here, I’m under strict instructions and am limited to just the two bottles.  I’ve opted for two wines from the Australian estate De Bortoli The Accomplice Semillon-Sauvignon 2012 and The Accomplice Shiraz 2012 (both £8.49), which we believe are extremely good value, really approachable everyday quaffing wines. 

If you haven’t earned that glass of wine…

… but actually consider a cold beer to be a suitable lifetime achievement award then you may be interested to know that we have taken on two more beers from our new local superstar , Rocky Head Brewery.  Steve, who creates the magic down there on Kimber Road, has an extremely efficient sales patter – I’ve brewed a couple of new beers, how many would you like?! – and we then tell him how many, and he drops them round, no messin’.

The two NKOTB (if you know what that is without looking it up you should be feeling as ashamed as I feel for writing it) are:

Rocky Head AAPA, which stands for Anglo American Pale Ale, is described as a hoppy, fruity pale ale brewed with the finest English malts and yeast and huge amounts of aromatic American leaf hops.

Rocky Head Hop Ditch is their take on a Belgium sour.  Masses of tropical hop flavours a just a refreshing kiss of acidity.

Both come bottle conditioned in 500ml format, both are £4.00, and both arrived in the shop last Saturday.  So they really are new.

I’m here today and tomorrow, tasting wine, writing tasting notes, signing people up to the Wine School, so why not swing on by and see me and remember, if you’re running the marathon, all that pasta-based carb loading can only be enhanced by a nice glass of wine!

Wine School, Burgundy 2CV and a Lamborghini Aventador

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A momentous week for many reasons, the cricket season started, the snow melted, the Masters started at Augusta (who incidentally allowed their first two female members, one of whom is Condoleezza Rice) and the Dubai Police department launched their best ever recruitment tool…a Lamborghini Aventador as your jam jar. I bet its rubbish over speed bumps though!

Wine School

Want to taste 60 wines and learn the difference between Malbec and Merlot? Some past students have even discovered they like such outlandish things as Chardonnay and Riesling. Term starts Wednesday 1st May at 8pm sharp.  Come along, you’ll meet friendly people as well as friendly wines!


The man from Faiveley swung by in his 2CV this week and dropped off some delicious kit. We have the perennial favourite Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire 2010 at £11.99 a glass full of freshness and tart red cherries; then, at the other end of the scale, some Mercurey 1er Cru ‘Clos du Roy’ 2009 at £24.99 which, like all the other 2009 red burgundies we’ve had, is just too delicious to make old bones!


I notice that in our email of this week in 2012 we were discussing drought, Manchester United being a rich club and Abu Qatada not being deported.

I can happily report that there is no drought.

We are expecting something of a heatwave this weekend but rest assured we have some rosé, some bubbly in the fridge and a delicious South African white for the keen gardeners amongst you.

Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2012 £12.29 is made by Adi Badenhorst, rich yet crisp with stonefruit flavours that’ll be just fab with that fish kebab you’re putting on the braai.

Soli Pinot Noir 2009 £11.29 is a wine many of you were astonished to find us stocking. “Bulgarian wine!” you said, “are you sure?” “Yes” we said, “it’s delicious, you’ll like it, just give it a try.” So try it you did, and suddenly it was all gone. Well Soli has returned, we still think it is astonishingly good value and as delicious as ever.

Don’t forget the matches to light the barby!



Wine & Cheese Tasting, Grand National, Portuguese Wine

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Some dates for your diary, past and future:

Sunday 31st March – BST begins

Monday 1st April – April Fool’s Day, all japes to be finished by midday (weather, take note)

Wednesday 10th April – English Cricket Season starts (weather, as above)

Saturday 6th April – Grand National, Colbert Station E/W

Monday 15th April – schools go back, life returns to normal

Thursday 25th April – Wine and Cheese Tasting, 8pm, 4 places left…

Wednesday 1st May – 6 Week Wine Course commences, 8pm, spaces still available

Wednesday 4th April 2012 – temp in London – 11c – fine

Monday 4th April 2011 – temp in London – 12c – fine

Sunday 4th April 2010 – temp in London –9c – chillier

Yesterday – 4c…

I think you all get the theme of this email.  It’s been snowing too much recently, it’s been too damn windy and frankly our small oil-fired radiator is having to work too hard.  If it wasn’t our own business we would take industrial action against our inhumane working conditions.  The Bordeaux we had on tasting last week became a study in tannins as the shop chilled down whilst the Eiswein was standing there in his shorts and flip-flops wandering what all the fuss was about.  Oh and I may well have started hallucinating…

In my list of dates above you may have noticed mention of the Wine School.  What with one thing and another we have failed to promote this as actively and incessantly as we usually do which is probably a relief in some ways but does mean that we have plenty of space left.

The 6 week adventure starts at 8pm on Wednesday 1st May and continues on the 8th, 15th and 22nd of the month.  We then take a week off for half term, and re-convene for the last two sessions that will take place on 5th and 12th June.

It’s a great experience, we limit the group to a maximum of 10, we taste about 60 wines over the duration of the course, we cover whites, reds, fizz, a bit of rose, a bit of sweet wine and some faulty wines.  We practice some blind tasting, we introduce you to the Noble Grape Varieties and a few less renowned, we feed you water biscuits and, if you’re lucky, breadsticks.

So for two hours each Wednesday you can escape the world and pretend that life is all about sensory pleasure and delicious wine.  All this for £150, who could ask for more?

Booking is easy – phone us (020 8944 5224), email us, pop by and sign up whilst tasting today’s tasting wines – all these methods work.  So join up today for a wine filled May! (sorry)

If you fancy a bit of a warm up prior to joining the course then for just £15 you can book a slot on our Cheese and Wine evening on Thursday 25th April, 8pm.  Always popular, always well run, never chaotic – if you don’t believe me come and see for yourself!

Tasting this weekend

Wayne has been busy foraging around the Iberian Peninsula, but not in the bit that speaks Spanish but in the other bit that we have been trying to keep to ourselves.  Portugal has fantastic and beautifully approachable wines that suffer in the UK market purely because the grapes are hard to pronounce and for many years Mateus Rose was their most famous export.  Then Cliff Richard started making wine there, just outside Albufeira, which hardly enhanced its reputation, allegedly.

But now Wayne has been on the case and this weekend we will enjoy some of the fruits of his labours; I know little of these wines, so I’ll hand you over to our expert:

We’ll start off in the white corner with… Luis Pato Maria Gomes 2012, Bairrada, Portugal 12% – £11.19 Luis Pato is one of the wine trade’s treasures, outspoken, experimental and very talented. 2012 marked his 30th vintage at the reins and he shows no signs of slowing down, having just made his first red wine from white grapes (don’t ask!). This wine is a fine example of his work, wonderfully fresh and aromatic in its grapey nose, then with a broad, smooth texture in the mouth with melony flavours and a beautifully pure finish.

Then we head off to the Alentejano region for a spot of red. This area is a hot bed of experimentation and they plant more well-known varieties as well as the unpronounceable ones. Our selection here is Ciconia, Alentejo, Portugal 13.5% £9.99 – which is a kind of stork that settles on the plains here. No stork in the wine though, it’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Aragonez. What does it taste like? Why not come in and try for yourself, we might even use your tasting note!

So that just about rounds it off for this week save for a few final observations.  We’ve just been reminded by one of you that Wales beat England in the Six Nations and why hadn’t we mentioned it in our email.  Now we have.

Apparently the Brits and Russians drink the most when flying – fairly sure David Boon might have something to say about that.  As would the chap who managed 4 quarter bottles of Champagne on the flight to Amsterdam.  As would Mike Tindall.  Oh hang about, the last two are English – point taken.

Jobs for the weekend: taste Portuguese wines, sign up for Wine Course, watch the Grand National.

Over and out.