Archive for June, 2013

Citizens for Cookware March & Coffee Morning

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Mowing my way through Wimbledon Village this week, avoiding Evian flags and observing that tennis fans, like football fans, dress up in the relevant expensive sporting garb to go and watch their heroes (and that they all seem to have permatans), I happened across a new opening and, disappointingly, a new closure. 

It has been a while coming, but following the successful ‘Citizens for Cookware March & Coffee Morning’ in 2011 that resulted in Le Creuset opening up, I have great pleasure in confirming that we now have the Prince Global Sports Flagship Tennis Store just opened up, providing you with a whole range of merchandise, racquets and balls… er… providing they are made by Prince.  Every day the Village seems to become more and more about choicePerhaps we should have opened a specialist Ernst & Julio Gallo store – oh hang about…

Jokes aside, I was saddened to see that Butcher & Grill has decided enough is enough and has returned to Battersea.  For those who don’t know the place, it hadn’t been in Wimbledon forever but it had been there long enough to be a definite part of the furniture, just over the road from the Rose and Crown and Hemingways.  Specialising in steak and meat (really Alex, with a name like that?) it predated many of the current crop of burnt meat specialists and was, on the occasions I went there, a decent night out and very popular.  The story they tell is that the rent was finally becoming too much, even for a busy restaurant. Now it’s gone, a few days before the start of the Tennis, which is a sure sign that, even with the huge sales spike they would get from the fortnight, it was still not enough to persuade them to stay put.

I must say at this point that this is the story I have been told, if anyone knows a different version I am happy to be corrected and will put the correction in next week’s email.

It just reinforces the fact that being an Independent doesn’t seem to be getting any easier – and every day the Village seems to become more and more about choice.

Happy days are here again

Wayne is off this weekend ‘seeing friends’, and by a truly startling coincidence the Tour de France starts on Saturday – I suspect his wife thinks he is coming to work and I suspect that the friends he is seeing have names like Alberto, Froomey, Cadel and Cav….

And there’s other sport too – Round 2 of the Welsh Lions vs Australia on Saturday morning – and knowing that you can never right the Aussies off, plus the fact that they should have won last week and then neatly finished off with their ability to get away with stamping on people’s heads – it should be a belter!

Oh, and there’s tennis. As I write (Thursday) an astonishing 64 brave men and women are still putting their lives on the line in the singles draw, down from the original 256.  The ‘dangerous’ grass – grass being an unpleasant necessity at this famous grass court championship – has turned the event into a bloodbath.  Of the 173 singles matches played thus far, a mere 162 of them have finished normally whilst the far higher figure of 8 walkovers and 3 retirements is surely the one that we should all be focusing on. 

Come on, Andy.

Diary dates

It’s the end of June and very soon a huge number of you will be relocating to sunnier climes for the summer.  Before you go we thought we’d give you something to look forward to after the boys of summer are gone:

WINE SCHOOL – yes it’s back for those of you who wish to find out more about what’s in your glass and what Wayne really thinks about Pinotage.  Commences Wednesday 18th September for six consecutive weeks, wrapping on Wednesday 23rd October.  It all takes place here in the shop, starts at 8pm and you’ll be free to go somewhere between 9.30 and 10 pm.  £150 per person, numbers limited to 10 people, and payment confirms your place.  We’ve attached the flier to this email but please don’t hesitate to ask us for more info.

WINE & CHEESE – just two dates so far: Thursday 26th September and Thursday 24th October – both start at 8pm and again, we have attached the flier.

OTHER TASTINGS – we’ve left November clear at the moment, but we are hoping to do 3 or 4 events during the month, we’re just formulating a plan….

THREE WINE MEN – One of our suppliers (who sells us the Botham Merrill Willis wines) has been kind to us, the result being we have been given two complimentary tickets to the Three Wine Men event next weekend at Lords (6th/7th July) – Saturday options being 11-3 or 4-7.30 or Sunday 12-4. First respondent gets their name on the door.

Tasting this weekend

… because after an email this long, we all need a drink!

It’s summer party season, so we thought we’d crack open a couple of perennial classics – our Val de Loire Sauvignon and the Maison de Bulliats Regnie from Beaujolais, plus we’ve got a couple of samples to try too, so swing on by and we’ll shoot the breeze about tennis/cycling/rugby/cricket/cookware, whatever you fancy!

If you don’t like the weather blame the combined forces of Wimbledon and Glastonbury and remember – drinking wine may not be the answer but it helps you forget the question!

Alex & Wayne

One day it’s rain, one day it’s shine but everyday it’s wine…

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Lulling them into a false sense of security

The Lions lose their last warm up game, the English cricketers lose to Sri Lanka but proceed to the finals of the Champions Trophy, Andy Murray ‘couldn’t even walk up stairs’ a few weeks ago but now wins Queens, and Justin Rose, well let’s just say that missing the cut in his first 21 professional appearances probably makes him King Lull.

Rain, Rain, go away!

The board outside our shop says: one day it’s rain, one day it’s shine but everyday it’s wine… This might not be so true for the producers in Vouvray (Loire Valley, France) this year, who were bombarded with hail stones the size of golf balls early on Monday morning, which destroyed the vines at a delicate time in grape production.  The hail also destroyed roofs and dented cars, smashed windows etc so, all in all, a disaster.  If you enjoy your off-dry Chenin Blanc then I suggest you buy now rather than wait for anything from 2013.


Never a huge fan of the Sopranos but it seems incredibly untimely that a man who only really hit the big time in his forties should not be able to reap the rewards very far into his fifties.  Carpe diem.

Any news?

Being in the habit of always starting a newspaper from the back, I feel ill-suited to make any pithy comment on current affairs.  However, when the P of the USA refers to the Jeffrey, creator of power ballad ‘On the wings of Love’, in place of our beloved Chancellor, George, much mirth ensues.  And to think our Second Lord of the Treasury was quoted, when questioned on adopting George as his nom de guerre in place of Gideon, as saying: Life was easier as a George; it was a straightforward name.  Until now!

Wine and Cheese

Another successful event last night, filled to the gills with fine wine and cheese.  The next one in July is sold out, and we’ll take a break over the summer, but come September we’ll be back in the dairy, separating our curds from our whey, ready for the new season of tastings – watch this space!

Weekend Wine Worship

As ever we will be opening a couple of bottles for you to sniff, swirl, sip, spit (the last one is entirely up to you!).  From the fridge, looking resplendent in his crisp white robes, we have Saint-Véran 2009 from Domaine Botti (14.99) a deeply satisfying white burgundy with ripe apple notes, a touch of minerality and a crisp clean finish.  Off the shelf, a cheeky red with a whiff of the Vatican about him, we have Cuvée Jean-Paul 2011 (7.29) a rouge from Vaucluse, in the southern Rhone – a classic Grenache-Syrah blend, very gluggable and delicious all the way to the bottom of the bottle!

That’s it from us and I’ll finish as I started.  It’s Wimbledon from Monday, a fortnight of campers in the park, visitors emerging from Wimbledon Park Tube to discover that Southfields would have been more convenient, and British tennis victories to be applauded.  If you need a drop of patriotic, celebratory bubbles then look no further than Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2008 (31.99) a superb sparkler from Kent  that has just been quietly going about its business, making top-notch wines and winning awards, whilst other producers make a lot of noise and blather.  It’s all about the lulling…

Over and Out. 

“You can’t be serious, man. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! That ball was on the line! Chalk flew up! It was clearly in! You guys are the absolute pits of the world…”

32 years ago, wow!

Alex & Wayne

The sport v cake conundrum

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Undoubtedly the most important news across the desk this week was that Mighty Boosh are to reform and play Festival Supreme at Santa Monica pier. Any chance of a London gig, guys?

We saw David Warner was fined A$11,500 for a breach of rule 6: Unbecoming Behaviour. We’re still trying to clarify if the breach was for being in a Walkabout at 2am, or slapping a man in a wig.

As Sport England reports a fall of 200,000 people participating in sport between April 2012-April 2013 and blames it on the cold weather, we couldn’t help wondering if there was any correlation with the Mintel report showing 55% growth in small cake sales over the last couple of years?

Father’s Day

Dad, Father, Pop, Old Man, whatever you call him, this Sunday is his day. The media might depict him as just reading the newspaper, being a bit useless and dancing badly at weddings but we all know different don’t we? So Father’s Day is this Sunday and with such short notice you need to get a present.

Now, we know we’ve tipped you off late and you hadn’t thought of a present but we can help. We know for a fact that Dads like a bottle of red, a couple of beers or a maybe even a single malt and also that bit of downtime to enjoy a glass.

Bottle of red we might suggest something like the richness of Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2006 (£23.99), maybe the suave elegance of organic Barolo Brezza 2005 (£29.99) or the Patagonian polish on Alpataco Malbec 2011 (£11.49).

Couple of beers could involve the world beating Sambrook’s Brewery Wandle Ale (£2.59), new local heroes Rocky Head Brewery’s Pale Ale (£3.25), or Savour Beer’s Progress Blond (£2.59) if he likes his beer with a modern British take on the Belgian style.

Single Malt is going to be Finlaggan Old Reserve (£29.99). Distilled on Islay by a secret distillery (we have our thoughts on whom), it won a gold medal in the International Wine & Spirits Competition and Jim Murray’s review described it as “BRILLIANT…simply awesome.” We don’t feel the need to add much.

Wimbledon High School Summer Fair – Sunday the 16th June

We’ll be there on Sunday 16th June. It runs from 12-4 so if you’ve been really busy and not bought dad anything, bring him down to see us.

Tasting this Weekend

I spent Thursday afternoon thinking about what to taste at the weekend (a few of you passing by might have seen the chin stroking) and frankly struck out. Then over a bowl of blueberries this morning it struck me. When was the last time we recommended a wine to go with the Friday night takeaway?

Willowglen Gewürztraminer/Riesling 2011 (£9.29) is just such a wine. The Aussies love a bit of fusion cooking and have an array of wines to match. This one is crisp, a tiny bit floral but with some ripe fruit sweetness and a touch of spice. So if your supper involves the folks at Dragon King or Dalchini, swing by and try this on the way!

De Bortoli Vat 10 Pinot Noir (£11.99) is very much the thing in the red corner. Its silky red fruits and satisfying finish would be an ideal partner to a tandoori mixed grill or perhaps a shish kebab.

See you tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at the fair – busy weekend!

Wayne & Alex


Yardarm, sun, corkscrew, Rosé – do it!

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Ok, so we wrote this on Thursday evening, before it wellied it down last night, but I think we’ll still run with it…

Sun’s out, everyone’s feeling a little bit fuzzy and relaxed…

Champagne Houses

We visited the pub on Wednesday night, as you do, for market research and to check the opening hours (all the way to the end) and as the night wore on, the conversation moved onto Champagne and its brands.  The next morning, as a follow up, we rooted around t’interweb to see if anything that we had told people last night was true.

And, for the most part, we had been truthful; we had just been too conservative with our figures.

The stats we uncovered are, I’m sure, widely available but our primary source was The Drinks Business, so we have gone with their research, lazy boys that we are.

Based on 2012 volume, the two largest houses are:

Moët & Chandon – 28,080,000 bottles

Veuve Clicquot – 17,688,000 bottles

And in 10th position we have:

Perrier Jouët – 2, 953,596 bottles

So, the largest house produces almost 10 times as much fizz as the 10th.  If we then consider that in 3rd position we have the largest cooperative, Nicolas Feuillatte, producing 9,099,996 bottles – a third of M&C production – the figures get a bit more scary.

So what does this really tell us?  Firstly that, since Moët and Veuve are both owned by LVMH (that’s Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey FYI), then one company is responsible for producing an awful lot of bubbles.  It might also make one think of words such as factory, conveyor belt, bulk.  It certainly doesn’t elicit terms such as hand crafted, artisan, specialist, passion.

Moutard – c560,000 bottles

Chassenay d’Arce – c1,000,000 bottles

Both these stats are our own research (!) because neither house featured in the top ten and to be honest with you we’re as pleased as punch that this is the case.

Hand crafted, artisan, specialist, passion – lesson over.

Tall buildings

Petronas Towers, The Shard, The Gherkin, The Leaning Tower of Pisa – all these are names used in reference to our rather magnificent stack of Rosé.  It’s going to be hot all weekend, it’s been a while coming, so let’s all get tucked in.

Chateau de l’Aumerade Côtes de Provence Cru Classé 2012 – £12.99

Cuvée Jean-Paul Gascogne Rosé 2012 – £7.29

Borsao Garnacha Rosado 2011 – £6.99

Mayerling Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV – £15.49

Moutard Prestige Brut Rosé NV – £28.99

And if there are two of you, Moutard Prestige Brut Rosé NV Magnum – £58!

We’ve got about 180 bottles in all, so plenty to go round, and if you’re lucky Wayne might even offer you a tempting discount!


It’s Windmill Market time again, down at St Mark’s Church Hall behind the library in Wimbledon, from 10 am until 2 pm on Saturday.  It’s a pound to get in, but we’ve got flyers that will get you in for free  should you so desire.  Alex will be down there with his stall and banter, Norbiton Cheese should be there too, who we buy our cheese from for our tastings, and a host of other local favourites.


Just a quick back pat for Wayne, who clearly has the connections down at the yard, as his tip for last week’s Derby romped home – Park Vintners’ very own John McCririck…

And to celebrate we’ll open a pair of Percheron at the tasting table this weekend as we think they’ll fit in nicely.  They’re both from the Western Cape in South Africa where they know a thing or two about cooking and drinking in the sunshine.

Percheron Old Vine Cinsault 2012 & Percheron Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2012 are both £8.19 come and have a taste!

Yardarm, sun, corkscrew, Rosé – do it!

Alex & Wayne