Archive for August, 2013

‘An added dash of acidity and a twist of damp tea-towel’ – holiday horror drinks!

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Bang! – And it’s gone.  Six weeks at the start of the year is a slow trudge towards the lighter days of Spring, whereas July and August rattle on by like the Hogwarts Express being chased by Billy Whizz – and that is in spite of the fact we all spend more time with our kids!


Devon was heaven – the sun shone for the first time in 4 million years and we mocked the Gore-Tex and welly brigade, even when the wind got up and the children went blue.  Home comforts were transported down to help us all sleep – teddy bears, CD player, a double magnum of Barbazul red for the adults. 

Fully aware that the British Summer is a rarely-sighted and certainly-not-for-long-periods phenomenon, a safety net flight to Spain had been booked for guaranteed sun and shorts.  Fewer home comforts this time, more aftersun.  Plenty of seafood, delicious Albariño and some slightly iffy cider from Asturias – one incredibly sweet the other like proper, hard-core scrumpy with an added dash of acidity and a twist of damp tea-towel.  We checked from the top to the bottom of the bottle and can confirm that it tasted the same all the way down.  Cold copitas of dry sherry, large glasses of Tinto de Verano – the unholy mix of red wine, sweet soda water, ice and a slice – that some members of our party were able to drink quicker than others could drink a beer!  Prawns in garlic, barbecued sea bream, lamb chops on the grill, ordering salad because you fancied it rather than you felt you ought to…

Walking into the Co-op yesterday lunchtime was a bit of a culture shock.

And now off to Greece.  Olives, ouzo and perhaps octopus for alliteration purposes.  More seafood, more local wines from unpronounceable grape varieties, more sand between our toes, more time to finally get to grips with the book that has been laughing at your futile, few pages at a time, forays since those long dark days of January and February…

Into the Groove

Mid-September will find the whole Park Vintners team back, fighting fit, with a healthy tan, refreshed for the months to come – and there’s plenty to look forward to, as mentioned last week.

Wednesday 18th September – Wednesday 23rd October our six week wine school re-starts and we still have a couple of spaces left on this fun-filled tasting extravaganza  – why let the children be the only ones to learn something new in September?  £150 per person, spittoons provided but with no obligation to use them.

Thursday 26th September the new season of Cheese & Wine tastings starts – 8pm here in the shop, £15 per person, four places left.

Thursday 24th October the next Cheese and Wine tasting – 8pm, here in the shop, £15 per person, you know the drill.  This one is going to be a Spanish focused evening; I don’t think we’ll be showing Asturian cider though…

To sign up for any of the above, give us a call on 020 8944 5224, or email us, or pop in and see us – as always, payment confirms your place.

November will see a Bordeaux tasting on a date soon to be confirmed (it will be a Thursday though), and we have a couple of other plans that just need confirmation.

December will no doubt involve Christmas at some point, but more importantly a Champagne and Sparkling wine evening will take place to get us all in the mood for season of merriment.


Keen to be up to date with all things local and exciting we have a new listing:

Dodd’s Gin (49.9%) £37.50 – distilled in Battersea, just around the corner from Ransome’s Dock, this is the latest arrival on the London Gin scene.  The company’s end goal is to produce the first London Whisky for over a century, but while they wait for this to develop, there is plenty of fun to be had playing around with other spirits.  Our resident nose and spirits aficionado says:

Very London on the nose with juniper and a barley creaminess.  On the palate very spicy yet soft with lots of peppery juniper and just a hint of orange (?) citrus.  Best served with lemon peel and ice, and tonic too if you must!


… and with gin on our minds, we have now got small bottles of Fever Tree Tonic Water (200ml) for £1 each or 4 for £3. 

South Africa provides our wines for tasting this weekend – for the white we will unseal the ever popular, yet rarely opened, Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2011 £12.29 and the complementary red will be Barton Vineyards Merlot 2011 £12.99.  They’ll be open this evening and they’ll be open all day tomorrow so there are no excuses!


Tasting Gruner Veltliner, a real “Second Glasser”

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We found ourselves wearing the philosophers cap and reflecting upon the contrasting nature of life this week.

The world’s fastest man may not get to compete in the Rio Olympics because his country’s drug testing regime is a little on the relaxed side.  Surely they can toughen it up by 2016?

The England selectors decide to give the young lads a run out to calm their nerves for the future only to discover Watson swinging his bat like a baseball player. Oops.

Elsewhere, we have a football team from a near bankrupt country, about to spend £100million on one player, whilst a cycling team in the same country are hanging up their bikes for good. This leaves their star cyclists on the dole, 2008 Olympic Road Race Champion Sammy Sanchez being one of them!  It’s a funny old business.

The financial industry finds itself embroiled in yet another misspelling scandal so we’re glad that here in the wine trade life is quite simple. A quick chat in the shop, a choice is made followed by a modest financial transaction, leading to a glass or two of deliciousness.

Stuck in a rut?

Have you (or a friend) found you’ve been drinking the same wine for weeks on end, only changing when you can’t stand the sight of that label again. Then stop, and instead…

Join the Park Vintners Wine Club

Every month we select a box containing six bottles of wine carefully chosen to tickle the life back into your taste buds. There is an option of a £50 case or an £100 case. We email you the selection at the beginning of the month, you say yes please and we’ll drop them round. You can say no at any point. (or even yes please I’ll take two!) If you’d like to give it a go just drop us a line and we’ll include you in next month’s mailing.

Tasting This Weekend

Two glasses of deliciousness will start in Langenlois, Austria. This is where Rudolf Rabl and his family make their delicious Gruner Veltliner 2011 (£10.99). We think this is a cracking drop of wine and definitely worth popping in to sample.

The second glass is from a real ‘second glasser’. Albizu 2012 (£7.29) is a fresh as a daisy bright fruited Tempranillo. Easy drinking, un-oaked and very more-ish, just what you’d expect from a de-classified Rioja.

Sorry but we’re closed Bank Holiday Monday

Lastly, we spoke earlier of the £100 million pound man but happy birthday today to Lee Majors, the $6 million man. Now that’d be a race, Usain Bolt and Steve Austin!

Nice Weekend All

California, Cheese, Chablis and the Ashes

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Ed Miliband goes walkabout in Walworth and ends up with egg on his face, England played footy with Scotland and the goalposts don’t take the tube home, and Stuart Broad’s imperious bowling put England at 3-0 in the Ashes (was that really only Monday?) If you’ve a ticket for the Oval probably best to wear your party frock.

Elsewhere the Premiership kicks off this weekend, Arsenal have been active all summer, selling left, right, and centre (using Suarez as a smoke screen?), Crystal Palace, Fulham and Tottenham have all been signing, and Hawkeye gets to join in the fun too. Finally, is it just me, or does anybody else think David Moyes is already assuming grumpier persona?

Wine News

Harvesting in California for the sparkling wines got underway this week, as we mentioned last week the harvest is a bit early this year.  Elsewhere, we’re glad to have no further hail to speak of.

Whilst I’m talking about California I’ll mention that Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 (£22.99) is back in stock, along with its sibling, Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (£24.99)!

Park Vintners Wine School – term begins 18th September at 8pm. Six weeks in which you’ll taste wine, look at maps, see stuff the winemaker didn’t want you to see…it’s all here and for just £150!

Cheese & Wine Tastings

Filling up fast, the cost is £15 and the next dates are…

Thursday 26th September

Thursday 24th October – this one will be all about Spain, in fact Alex has been sent to research already!

Wine Factwhat have the Romans…

It crossed our desk this week that the idea of “raising a toast” is from Roman times when it was popular to drink to good health by dipping a piece of toast into a goblet of wine. In a millennia or two will we “raise a crisp”?

Tasting This Weekend

Well I thought we’d start off a little old school in the ‘we haven’t tried this in ages’ category. Step forward Chablis Colombe (£13.99) , and, given the continued mentioning of California, we’ll drop off in Lodi and taste Jewel Old Vine Zinfandel (£12.99).

That’s all from us, drop in for a taster!

An email about the weather and our new fridge – they reckoned it couldn’t be done, what do they know!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Occasionally, in amongst the thinly veiled sales pitches, the feeble attempts at humour and the inept news round-ups, we turn our attention to two of our favourite topics: wine and weather.  As a result, this week’s missive has pretty much written itself since the two W’s have collided in a quite spectacular fashion of late, and not without a degree of collateral damage.  Let’s use France as our yardstick here:

Please do read the article, but if you don’t have time here are the key points:

First the good news

·         a calmer weather system is expected in the second half of August

Now the other news

·         From 1 to 31 July, lightning struck France 527,496 times – a rate five times higher than last year.  On the 27th July a record 284,163 strikes of lightening were counted across the country

·         On Wednesday, 750 residents in the Loire region saw the roofs of their houses peeled off by heavy hail, while 23,000 homes were left without electricity in the Dordogne and Limousin departments

·         Last Friday night, in the area of Entre-Deux-Mers which produces much of the early drinking claret that we all enjoy (Chateau Deville anyone?), there was a quick 10 minute hailstorm.  The report from Bordeaux’s agricultural association, the FDSEA, estimated that up to 5,000 hectares of vines in the region have been wiped out in the storm, equivalent to 5% of Bordeaux’s annual production

·         The week before, gale force winds, heavy rain and hail stones the size of prunes wreaked havoc across vineyards in Bordeaux, Champagne and Cognac.  The storm damaged grapes at Château Lafite and uprooted its willow trees, while the roof of neighbouring Pauillac estate, Pichon Lalande, was significantly damaged.  Champagne also suffered, losing 300 hectares in the villages around Epernay and the Côtes de Blancs to the hail

·         And as we mentioned previously, a hail storm on Monday 17th June caused widespread damage across much of the Loire communes Vouvray and Reugny.  Hail stones ‘as big as eggs’ were reported and around 1000ha across Vouvray were affected, just under half the 2,300ha appellation (thanks to The Drinks Business for this info)

So France is looking a bit buggered, pardon my French.  I don’t have weather reports for Spain and Italy, but after drought caused smaller production in 2012, they both need to avoid more bad luck.  California is picking early this year (10 days according to our sources) but this apparently is a positive thing although I’m sure we won’t see it reflected in their prices.  Australia’s harvest was the largest in 5 years though.  Guess what we’re all drinking next year…

Anyway, with the potential ruin of the 2013 vintage firmly in his sights, Wayne realised last week that it was time for us to diversify a bit.  So he bought a new fridge.  It is now happily ensconced at the front of the shop and has been unofficially named ‘The Beer Fridge’.  It has the same local beers as always, but now there are more of them cold.  And more cold cider.  And more chilled sweet wines/sherry/Madeira.  Even a couple of bottles of decent Burgundy are lounging around on the bottom shelf.  So more than a beer fridge really – come and have a look.


The wine course is filling up nicely, as are the two Wine and Cheese evenings, see attached for info on all of these.

#moutardroutard hits the road to Spain next week so unless you want my wife to win this bottle of Champagne on 1st October, get snapping.  @parkvintners is our handle good buddy, what’s your twenty?

Weekend drinks will be served from 5pm today and all day tomorrow – as Moutard is travelling to Iberia we thought we would too – we’ll be showing Campos de Celtas 2011 Albariño (12.99) from Rias Baixas, Galicia and then we’ll hop over the border and taste a brand new red listing from the Douro – Doural Tinto (9.99) made from the grapes that go into Port, but in a dry style.

An email about the weather and our new fridge – they reckoned it couldn’t be done, what do they know!

All hail!

Wine School, Cheese & Wine Tasting, @parkvintners

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Dear Out of Office Reply,

We wondered if you might keep this handy in the Inbox for the person that normally sits in front of you.

I’m sure they’ll want to read this when they get back. I know they’ll have missed the delicious tasting at the weekend, but there is a chance that some of the other information will still be pertinent.

If you feel the need to share this email with covering desks please do go ahead, we’re always happy to be seen with new eyes.


Given the huge sums offered for Gareth Bale it would appear the silly season is well and truly upon us. Escaped chimpanzees have been lured back to their homes at Twycross Zoo with ice cream, and apparently the England team are ‘not thinking of a whitewash’ in the Ashes. What kind of motivation is that? Come on chaps get some ambition…

Park Vintners Wine School – term begins 18th September at 8pm.

We still have a couple of places left if you’ve been promising yourself. We’ll give you no homework or exams. You’ll taste around 60 wines during the course of six weeks and we think it’ll be more fun than that woodwork course you were considering at evening classes. Full details attached.


Keep sending your pictures as you travel with a bottle of Moutard (a half or magnum works too!) Use the hashtag above, we are @parkvintners on twitter! There’s a prize to be had.

Cheese & Wine Tastings

Will be back post the summer, they are proving very popular so check that diary now and come and book your place. Start at 8pm 4 cheeses from our chums at Norbiton Cheese, 6 wines from our shelves. The cost is £15 and the next dates are…

Thursday 26th September

Thursday 24th October

Tasting This Weekend Those of you receiving this from your ‘Out of Office’ will have missed this bit.

We thought we’d throw caution to the wind this week and show a red and a white. I know that’s what we normally do, but we don’t normally chill the red.

So if you’d form an orderly queue at the tasting table for…

Manawa Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£12.49) is made by the team at Seresin Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand.

Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire 2010 (£11.99) is from Domaine Faiveley in Burgundy. Nothing ordinary about it at all if I’m honest,

Pinot Noir + a splash of Gamay = big smile on face.

So thank you ‘Out of Office’ app for making sure this reaches its destination.

To the six real people reading who were too slow with the holiday forms I can offer a shrug of the shoulders, a cyber-hug, and an invitation to try something chilled at the tasting table.

 Wayne & Alex