Archive for July, 2013

What to drink wherever you may roam…

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Babies get born, there’s an enormous fuss in the press, followed by a couple of rusks here and there, Lego, scooters and suddenly…

Schools out, summer’s here (?) and thoughts of escape weigh heavy.  But you’re not alone –UK residents made 55.5 million visits abroad in 2011.  So where did we go?  Using figures from the Office for National Statistics (2011), the list is not altogether surprising: Spain, France, Irish Republic, USA, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Netherlands and Turkey.  Add in a few other favourites: Great Britain, Egypt, Thailand, Australia and we have a nice mix of destinations. 

Fast forward to the escape itself, planned with near military precision, airport parking organised, flights booked, villa chosen, two weeks of sunshine, great food and fab local wine all beckon.  The first four should look after themselves, the food will be great, as much because someone else is cooking it as because it is all fresh and local, and the wine…. not so sure? 

The first approach would be to stick with what you recognise:  in Spain, drink Rioja; in France drink Bordeaux; in Egypt, drink beer.  As we said, thoroughly reasonable and safe.

Our approach would be to go native.  Local wines are always made with local specialities in mind and very often you can uncover some real gems that you wouldn’t normally consider in the UK.

So, taking our preferred holiday destinations into consideration, what would we recommend you give a go whilst on your travels?

SPAIN – a huge country with masses to offer beyond the realms of Rioja.  In whites, look out for Verdejo and Albariño.  Verdejo is a fantastic, slightly fruitier, alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.  Albariño from Galicia is arguably the best wine to go with seafood – ripe slightly tropical fruits, medium weight body and lovely crisp acidity.  In reds, I would thoroughly recommend old vine Garnacha, and for the Rioja fans, wines from Toro are made from the same grape but can carry a bit more punch.

FRANCE – Many, many wine choices here but for me pick of the bunch: from the far south, where the oyster beds are, Picpoul de Pinet has a lovely fresh but rounded lemon tang whilst Pinot Blanc from Alsace is very food friendly and a great switch for those Chardonnay lovers. In reds, Malbec, from Cahors, has a more savoury edge (and indeed blacker colour) than its contemporaries in Argentina and the reds (Gamay) from Beaujolais offer similar light red fruit characteristics to red Burgundy, but without the price tag.

IRELAND – er, Guinness…

USA – look outside of California, investigate the Pinot Noirs from Oregon and Washington state, and if you get the chance, ice-wine from Virginia.  All the states now produce some wine, so there is no excuse for not drinking local.

ITALY – like Spain and France, wine is produced throughout the country so local works well –Fiano for zesty fruit with a bit of minerality in Campania, Pecorino if you’re in Abruzzo and fancy a really local variety that again will keep the Chardonnay crew contented.  For reds, the rustic Cannonau (local name for Grenache) in Sardegna, Primitivo in Puglia.  Lagrein for a sort of Pinot Noir-a-like up in the Northeast, Barbera in the Northwest and Moscato just to cleanse your palate.

GERMANY – if you’ve not enjoyed a glass of Bernkastel Riesling Kabinett on a warm summers day you’ve missed a trick. Low in alcohol at around 9% with just a little sweetness for texture they are perfect afternoon wines. Further south walking in the Black Forest? Try a Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) or Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) from here.

PORTUGAL – massively underrated, and with so much more to offer than Mateus Rose and Cliff Richard’s Vida Nova.  Grape varieties are hard to pronounce and remember but for your fish course Alvarinho, for the same reasons we suggested Albariño from Spain, and in the reds, wines from the Dao take a lot of beating.

GREECE – there are some truly world-class wines coming out of Greece these days, the local wine is clean, fresh, and fruity too. If you’re on Santorini do try local speciality white Assyrtiko – Hatzidakis and Gaia are good producers.  In the north, near Thessaloniki, perhaps try the spicy reds from Naoussa.

NETHERLANDS –Genever really needs to be tasted, partly to show how different it is from Gin.

TURKEY – hmmmm…we’ve no experience, so you’re on your own here.

GB – plenty of people practice the staycation option, and why not.  Devon and Cornwall offer up an array of really great vineyards, personal favourites being Sharpham just outside Totnes and of course the fantastic success story that is Camel Valley.

EGYPT – as discussed before, beer here!

THAILAND – there are wines here – Monsoon Valley being the most famous, but they are made from international varieties and can sometimes suffer from the heat and humidity.

AUSTRALIA –seek out dry Riesling, a grape that has really thrived in the cooler parts of South Australia and makes for a fantastic aperitif.  In the red corner, you’ve not lived until you’ve given Sparkling Shiraz a go – a classic Aussie invention, Shiraz with bubbles serve it chilled with a barbecue or a full English if you’re feeling brave!

Tasting this weekend

So in the spirit of holiday beverages we’ll taste Beyra Branco (£10.99) from some of Portugal’s highest vineyards (700m), so far up the Douro they’re nearly in Spain!

On the reds we’ll be flying into Bari and heading out to taste Telero Negroamaro (£9.99), a velvety red, full of flavour and fantastic with tomato dishes!

That’s all folks!

Alex & Wayne

P.S. A version of this will appear as an article in Issue 43 of Essence magazine, July/August 2013.

Nothing new under the sun – apart from Zen beer, New Hall Bacchus, #moutardroutard…..

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Right, let’s start today with Ecclesiastes 1:9 from the King James Bible:

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

These thoughts are attributed to Solomon but a close elderly acquaintance was reflecting yesterday about how life today reminds him a lot of life in the 1970’s – nothing new under the sun.

         –  How do you mean, Wayne? – I say

         – Well, we’ve got the summer of ’76, the British Tennis Champion of ’77, and perhaps we have the Ashes winners of 78-79 (5-1 for all you young folk)?  Unfortunately the British Open was won by Americans for most of the decade, and Sir BW was the first Brit to top the podium in the Tour de France last year, but I think you get what I mean, Alex.

          – But weren’t we in recession too, I remember talk of the three day week and the commercial power-cuts from my history lessons…

          – Well, the recession was largely over by early 1976, and it was such a lovely summer to celebrate this, although of course the drought and crop failure in the late summer resulted in double digit percentage increases in food prices… but it was such a lovely summer!

And then he settled back into his deckchair to continue his thorough investigation of what goes on when one shuts one’s eyes on a sunny afternoon…


We have doubled the size of our English Wine Range, listed a new beer and discovered that Wimbledon Park in the sunshine seems to have an unslakeable thirst for Rosé wine and white port!


Ever since we listed Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2008 (£31.99) as our home-grown sparkler from Kent (the Garden of England indeed) our Essex man has been chomping at the bit to get something listed from the land of his birth.  We shucked the oysters, tasted the Maldon Sea Salt, even stuck some Tiptree on our toast, but none of it seemed to fit the wine-shop image.  

Until now.  The vineyards of New Hall are located just outside of Purleigh, apparently if you go down the hill, the road bends round to your left and it’s just there on your right but I digress… these are some of the oldest plantings of Bacchus in the UK, certainly the largest (44,500 vines) and they provide grapes to a couple of well-known English Wineries that, frankly, are not very close to Essex.

Anyway, enough waffle.  The wine has a vinous, limey nose that leads you into a fruit focused medium dry palate with a reassuring zing on the finish.  Damn tasty and a refreshing change from Malibu and pineapple.


Our local superstar micro-brewery has released its next edition.  Many of you have listened patiently when we have promised that a slightly lower alcohol pale ale was in the offing.  Well, the wait is over and it’s here now.  Beautifully refreshing with a citric hoppiness (new word) and extraordinarily gluggable (next new word).  Buy it, drink it, buy some more, trust me, I’m in sales.


We’ve had it in stock for ages but it seems to have caught on in recent weeks.  Chilled from the fridge, hi-ball glass filled half and half with tonic water, add a twist of lemon sit in the back garden, rehydrate.


We managed to get half a dozen of these splendid fellows, equivalent to two bottles or, as Sir Ian might say, lunch.


The last of the local schools break up next Wednesday and everybody hightails it out of Dodge.  Before you pack the speedos, why not sign up for our 6 week wine course, give yourself something to look forward to in the autumn. 

6 weeks, around 60 wines, all the major grapes covered, food matching tips, corked and faulty wines, sweet wines, fizz, fun, informal, educational, Wayne’s jokes – all these and more will appear over the duration of the course, all for £150 per person.  We limit the class to a maximum of 10 people, so do be sure not to miss out on this opportunity to polish up your tasting skills and wine knowledge before the Christmas party season!

020 8944 5224,, 126 Arthur Road – phone us, email us, visit us and we’ll reserve your spot.


…is the tag for anyone taking photos of Moutard on the road, as mentioned in last week’s email.

So far we have Kew and Westward Ho!, we were hoping for the Tour de France, still hoping for Lords and rumours have it that we may be receiving some photos from Belgium in due course.  So if you’re drinking Moutard on a plane going to Spain, with your mates in the States, or in the park after dark, take a snapshot, twitter it to @parkvintners and you’ll be in the draw for a bottle of Moutard on 1st October.


We’ll open the new white from Essex for sure, and for those eating cumin spiced lamb kofta’s off the coals, we’ll try the Barton Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (£12.49) from Walker Bay, South Africa.

So, nothing new under the sun, but you know what, if the sun keeps on shining that’s good enough for us!

Over and out.

Alex & Wayne


Botham Merrill Willis Wines and the well travelled Moutard Champagne

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Sifting through this week’s news reminds us the world is a funny old place. We’ve got governments in disarray, getting a pay rise, and submarine bases costing zillions if Scotland gets independence. Then we have Government contractors under investigation for fraud, protesters scaling the shard, a chance to buy a share in Postman Pat and Popocatepetl, Mexico’s most famous volcano, getting uppity again.

The Ashes

I’m not sure there has been much press coverage, but the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted there is some cricket happening. It seems since 1882 England and Australia have periodically held cricket matches contesting a small terracotta urn.  This year sees five matches and the first match is ‘in play’.

We thought we’d get in on the action as well.

Botham Merrill WillisIan Botham and Bob Willis are two of the biggest names in the modern era of world cricket. Geoff Merrill’s reputation on the international wine stage is equally impressive. A mutual passion for their respective professions, cricket and wine, drew them together during the English tour of Australia in 1978. Since then a lasting friendship has developed over many bottles opened and balls bowled. Winemaker Geoff Merrill has an enviable record as a winemaker and show judge spanning some 25 years in Australia, South Africa, The United Kingdom, Italy, USA and New Zealand.

The wines are all released with a bit of bottle age, bringing a rounded, food friendly nature.

2008 Chardonnay (McLaren Vale) – Lively citrus and melon fruits, subtle touch of oak and a crisp finish.

2008 Shiraz (McLaren Vale) – Classic blackberry and spice notes you’d expect from here, along with leather and aniseed notes.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale/Coonawarra) – Medium-bodied with dark fruits, a touch of menthol, and a touch of that olivey earthiness that Coonawarra brings.

We have all three wines in stock priced at £16.99 each.

ASHES SPECIAL: mix any six Botham Merrill Willis wines for £90.

If that wasn’t exciting enough buy 12 bottles and we’ll give you a free bottle of 2007 Chardonnay signed by Bob Willis (whilst stocks last obviously!). This wine commemorates the 25th Anniversary of Beefy’s first Charity Walk.


Thanks to all of you who have.

If you haven’t (assuming we’ve not upset you in some way) PLEASE DO IT NOW the voting closes today.


News reaches (via Forbes magazine and one of our eagle eyed spies!) that Champagne that is made with red grapes can help improve your memory. Luckily Moutard Grand Cuvée (£26.99) is made of Pinot Noir. If you can remember where we are form an orderly queue.

Tasting This Weekend

The sun is shining, tans are getting topped up, the plants on the patio are thirsty, not to mention us wine drinkers so we thought we’d charge your glasses this weekend with the BMW wines. 

All three will be open from this evening and will hopefully stay in bat until the close of play tomorrow. If they get run-out, we can offer tots of our Zuidam Gin and Finlaggan Whisky should there be a need for some nerve steadying, harder liquor!


Some of you do it, some of you don’t, which is fine.  For those who do, here’s a bit of fun.  Whilst Alex was dossing down in Kew Gardens last night he tweeted this:

Which got us to thinking… the best photo we see of a bottle of Moutard in an unusual place, on Twitter, by the 1st October 2013 will earn you a bottle of Moutard Champagne.  I’m sure there are technical/legal details I need to add here, but suffice to say

·         our decision is final,

·         bribery is thoroughly appreciated but will not sway the judges,

·         it’s all just a bit of fun!

Follow us on Twitter @parkvintners to see what it’s all about.

Wayne is cycling to Brighton in the dark tonight, for fun apparently, so I suggest you all stick to the pavements if you’re out and about after 11pm, we don’t want any broken legs now do we!!

Over bowled.

Gin, Andy Murray, Vote For Us & Taste Burgundy at the Weekend

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A week to play havoc with the collective blood pressure! Military coup in Egypt, the King abdicating in Belgium, Andy Murray fancying a couple of extra sets on Centre Court and a man dressed as Superman stopping a shoplifter in Sheffield (Man of Steel in Steel City anyone?).

There’s also been a dropped O’Driscoll, allegations of electoral wrongdoing in Falkirk and David Cameron flipping burgers at the 10 Downing Street BBQ. Whilst, in sports the Americans do, Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut has broken his own world record by eating 69 Hot Dogs in their buns in 10 minutes.

Most importantly what a thrilling opening week we’ve had at the 100th Tour de France, a team coach stuck under the finish gantry, spectators in the way of sprinters, crashes and their survivors battling on despite a fractured pelvis not to mention Manx Missile Mark Cavendish.  It’s been that exciting that even the Daily Mail has commented!

Mothers Ruin

You’ve all been asking us and we’re happy to announce that Zuidam Dutch Courage Gin (£33.99) is back in stock. G & T ‘tastic is what it is….

Even better, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure we have a bottle open here so you can taste it if you wish!

Last Chance Saloon – Time & Leisure Food and Drink Awards 2013

The voting for this ends on next Friday, July 12th. Thanks to all of you who have voted for us already, but for those of you who, like Wayne, prefer to do things near a deadline we would urge you to do it now. If you think we’re your favourite local wine retailer (and we sincerely hope we are) just click on the link below, select our name from the drop down list and Bob’s your uncle!

You can also text Time03703 to 81400 which will cost you 50p plus your standard network rate.

You know how much Alex and I love a certificate and we would dearly love to retain last year’s title. So if you can find time in your busy schedule (I’m on bended knee as I write this) we’d be made up if you could vote for us!

Tasting This Weekend

Staying with the idea that we open something really nice when Wayne’s not around we’ll kick off in the white corner with Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc 2010, Nuiton Beaunoy (£15.69).

In the red corner we shall have Shrinking Violet Shiraz/Viognier (£10.99) which is from the approximate area of today’s stage of the Tour and is going to work very nicely with all the barbecues that will happen this weekend.

And Finally

A happy birthday to all celebrating their birthdays today, you know who you are!