Archive for September, 2013

Winter Tasting Season – Yule love it!

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed we’ve opened later on a number of occasions lately. We just wanted to reassure you that we haven’t suddenly suffered a catastrophic drop in our work ethic, or caught that Studentitis Slumberous Virus that keeps us in bed till mid-afternoon (Alex has had it before, we hope he’s immune!).

We have been out tasting, exercising our palates on the hunt for new wines, rubbing shoulders with the great and good of the wine and restaurant world. Wayne even saw Patsy from Ab-Fab on the tube (sadly out of character, pretending to be Joanna Lumley).

We tasted some good things, some bubbly things and, frankly, a couple of wrong ‘uns. Some of them will be on the shelves in due course, at which point you too can give them a go.

All this talk of tasting, coupled with the sight of Wayne sweeping the floor after last nights’ Wine & Cheese event brings me to an announcement.

Winter Tasting Season

When we’ve not had a glass in our hand we’ve had pen, paper, and calendar, and the results of our planning are below.

We will start each event at 8pm as usual, here in the shop.

Thursday November 14th – Bordeaux Tasting – £15 per person

Our chum Jeremy will be leading this one, he’s well on his way to becoming an MW, is from one of our favourite suppliers, and knows even better than Wayne that Bordeaux is on the coast of France, about half way down.

Thursday November 28th – Cheese & Wine –Yule love it! – £15 per person

This will be like our usual cheese & wine evenings but we’ll choose a Christmas styled cheeseboard. For those that are interested we’ll also take orders for cheese on the night so that you can pick them up the weekend before Christmas (obviously we’ll do the same with wine!).

Thursday December 5th – Festive Fizz – £25 per person

We’ll open a selection of fine sparklers and champagnes, we’ll match them with some suitable snacks, we may even do a bit of it blind just for fun. This one sold out in days last year, so don’t be shy!

As usual we’ll limit the numbers (this place isn’t the tardis!), money on the table books your place and we’ll put our smart shirts on!

Tasting this weekend

If you cannot bear to wait for one of these events and have a more immediate thirst then this weekend to slake it we’ll open a bottle of Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2012 (£11.99) a blast of the south and worth splashing out on half a dozen Colchesters, if oysters are your thing. On the other hand we’ll bring some colour to your cheeks from Chile’s Bio-Bio Valley and charge your glasses with Aromo Winemakers Selection Pinot Noir 2011 (£10.99). Should you have treated yourself to a couple of game birds from the butcher or farmers market this is just the ticket.

Lastly we’ll be closing at 7pm this evening as we’ll be conducting a private tasting in Wimbledon Village.

To borrow from the mighty Two Ronnies

It’s goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him.


Wayne & Alex

Best Wine Retailer Time & Leisure Food awards 2013

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you’ve had to listen to Alex’ tales of woe.

I’m also sorry if service has been a little slow.

Mostly I’m sorry I wasn’t here to laugh when he locked himself out!


We are tingly from the stubs of our toes all the way to our split ends. Why? Because we find ourselves almost overcome with gratitude for your efforts.

We have lovely customers who go out of their way to vote for us, taking photos of strange looking squares with their smartphones (Err I think you’ll find they’re called QR codes-Ed).

We have lovely customers who hunted out a website to put a tick next to our name.

Because of our lovely customers we have retained …

“Wine Retailer of the Year” in the Time & Leisure Food Awards 2013.

From the bottom of our hearts we’d like to say ‘Ta very much!’


Europe’s weird harvest continues with Christian Seely, wine director for AXA Millésimes (who own loads of top Bordeaux estates) suggesting that the way things look this week they may be harvesting their grapes in Hampshire before they start in Bordeaux!

Researchers in Japan have found that TCA, the chemical present when we call a wine corked, actually shuts down your sense of smell. Just like sticking a cork up your nose!

Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs has joined ‘The Voice’.

Tasting this Weekend

Clearly we’ll drink taste something celebratory and I suggested the Mouton Rothschild ’82. Sadly, a quick rummage in the cellar has found us wanting on that front.

Instead we’ll open the Thienot Champagne that we won (I’m sure they sponsored just to see their name on our newsletter) and whilst we’re in the white corner we shall charge your glasses with the delicious Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux Blanc 2012 (£14.49). As everybody enjoyed the Madregale Bianco so much last week we shall open its sibling, the imaginatively named Madregale Rosso 2012 (£7.79) a very tasty red from Abruzzo.


Wayne & Alex

It’s too hot to wear a coat but too wet not to – Friday 13th, is this all you’ve got?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Come on Friday 13th, give it your best shot…

Many thanks for all the heartfelt messages, both on email and in person, regarding locking myself out of the shop last week.  Some of the terms of endearment – pillock, dimwit, muppet, something to do with appendages on my forehead – were all things I’d heard before, too many times.  However some of you were a bit more creative/abusive/educational and I can only thank you for expanding my lexicon and giving me some new phrases for when next I go to watch AFC Wimbledon play.

This week has been far more successful, if you ignore my constant battle with my email server refusing to send or receive in an appropriate manner, in fact I may well be talking to myself here if this doesn’t send properly and you’ll never know what you missed! 

I’ve continued with the ‘buy wine-sell wine’ strategy and it seems to be working a treat, so much so that I’m going to send Wayne out for lunch when he gets back on Monday – it’s the Time & Leisure Food and Drink Awards Ceremony up at Cannizaro House and hopefully he’ll come back filled with canapés and Champagne clutching a certificate.  Fingers fully crossed all weekend, thank you for your votes.

So let’s talk about what I’ve bought recently.  Morton Estate finally landed so I have a stack of the ever popular Morton Brut NV (£12.99) sparkling wine, I also have its sister fizz Mimi (£10.99) slightly softer in style but a must try for all you Prosecco fans.  All their still wines also came back in including the Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay (£10.99) an oaked Chardonnay that is a popular guilty pleasure for many of you.

Also back in stock are some Italian favourites.  Gavi (£12.99) returns as does the Sesti Grangiovese 2009 (£19.99) – from one of the best producers in Montalcino, and an absolute gem.  The Brezza Barbera d’Alba Santa Rosalia 2010 (£19.29) that was written up so nicely by Victoria Moore earlier in the year also reclaims its shelf space.

Whilst he’s away I thought I’d take the opportunity to buy a couple of new wines too, you know, make my mark etc.  First up Domaine des Amphores Saint-Joseph 2010 (£19.99).  We love the wines from the Rhone and don’t seem to have as many on the shelves as we should.  Well this is a step in the right direction – my tasting notes were as follows:

Classic Syrah from the Northern Rhone that is smack bang in the middle of its drinking window.  Farmed organically and using as little sulphur as possible in its production, it has lovely bright cherry and raspberry fruits on the nose, with the palate showing a bit more of that peppery spice you would expect.  The tannins are beautifully integrated and it has an elegance of finish that would marry very well with some venison roasted with a bit of crushed juniper.

Finally the blockbuster that is Le Cigare Volant 2008 (£37.99). 

From the Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, California this is winemaker Randall Grahm’s interpretation of Chateauneuf du Pape.  Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan all appear in the blend.  Utterly approachable now, but like all good CNDP it will happily sit in the cellar for a few years to come.  Oh and why the name of the wine?  All related to the banning of alien aircraft from landing in the vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape, decreed by the village council in 1954, but then you probably knew that!

In order not to blow the years’ budget in two weeks I will be tasting some slightly less rich and rare wines this weekend, and you can come and taste the m too but don’t be too late since I sold out of the Riesling I had on tasting last week by Saturday mid-afternoon.

The white will be the Madregale Bianco (£7.79) from Abruzzo never tasted on a Saturday before it would seem.  For the red I’ll be popping open the Gran Cerdo Tempranillo (£8.99), can you believe we have never put this on tasting – many of you already know and love it but for those of you who don’t it’s a treasure worth unearthing.

Finally a quick reminder about our Wine & Cheese Evening on Thursday 26th September here in the shop, starting at 8pm.  We have four spaces left so don’t hesitate to give me a call on 020 8944 5224 or email me to reserve your spot.  Tickets are £15 each and a fun filled evening is anticipated.

Enough from me, it’s a muggy old day, my fridges are covered in condensation, it’s too hot to wear a coat but too wet not to – Friday 13th, is this all you’ve got?

Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross check.

Alex & Wayne

King of the Shop & Sambrook’s 5th Birthday – Beer as a thank you!

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Sometimes an email just writes itself.  Incidents and accidents that occur through the working week and slowly ferment and bond until Thursday evening when they are fined and filtered, made presentable and then bottled and labelled the Weekly Wine.

I’ve been King of the Shop all week now, ruling with a rod of iron, bottles all standing to attention in serried rows, dog banished to the back room, Wayne banished to Greece.

As all great rulers know, with power comes great responsibility.  It’s no longer just a question of putting your clothes on the right way round, having breakfast, walking to work and trying to be there on time; no, deliveries need to be organised, orders placed, sales made and money taken – every day apparently.

So, to the flesh of this email.  As you may know we do the Park Vintners Wine Club Monthly Case which we deliver to between 30 and 40 customers each month and most of this happens in the first week of the month, in the evenings, once people are back home from work and the kids are in bed.

Yesterday afternoon I parked the Park Vintners Delivery Enabling Solution (the car, in old money) some way down the road ready for such evening deliveries.  An hour or so later I saw that there were a couple of spaces free outside the shop, which would be useful to park in, since I had rather a lot of cases to load up.  Jogged down the road, got the car, parked it right outside the shop – King of the Shop, King of Arthur Road Parking I was thinking smugly to myself as I walked up to the locked shop door.  Good security, less useful if the keys are still inside.

I am now #1 Idiot of Arthur Road, stuck outside, slightly bereft of ideas.  Clearly breaking in was an instant option but I hoped (and still hope) that if someone started breaking into our wine shop then some good citizen might call the police.  In a far more regal and elegant manner, fitting my status as King, I went around to the back of the shop, forced the gate, borrowed a ladder off some builders and climbed in the back window.  Far less criminal.

Once emotionally reunited with my keys, having washed the blood from my hands and regained my composure it was time to take the ladder back.  When I had borrowed it, the scaffolder had said ‘that’s the wine shop isn’t it – boys we’ve struck lucky!’ which was a fair point as they didn’t look like they would have much use for a dry cleaner or some sewing supplies.

So what to give: rosé might have ended in claret being spilt everywhere, vodka might have had the owner of  the property a trifle upset, so I settled for the globally accepted expression of male gratitude – a six-pack of cold beers.

Cheaper for me than a locksmith, and well received by them after a hot day in the sun!

Sambrook’s 5th Birthday – Beer as a thank you!

They’re not going to be giving us all six-packs to say thanks, but they are throwing a party to celebrate the fact that they have been doing good things to beer since 2008.  They’ve linked up with Morden Hall Gardens (with the Wandle running through it) and are throwing an event called ‘Beer by the River’.  There is a website but I’ll give you a brief outline here:

Taking place on Saturday 14th September, from Noon until 11pm it promises to be a day filled with beer, food and music.  They have split it into two sessions 12 – 5 and 6 – 11.  Tickets cost £19 for adults and £5 for kids per session and there is an option to upgrade to both sessions on the day for a small fee.

A ticket includes: Entry/One Pint beer token PLUS a 1/3 Pint token for Sambrook’s exclusive ale/unique festival glass/festival programme/live music & entertainment/Food token of £5 value.

Kid’s tickets include tequila slammers and a bottle of WKD an ice cream and a soft drink, of course.

If this floats your boat and you’d like a ticket, we have some for sale here in the shop so sail on by and grab yourself a couple.

Weekend Wine

Bottles to be opened this session will be: Zeppelin Riesling £12.99 from Germany, delicious, back in today with the lovely fresh 2012 vintage and Morton Syrah £10.99 from our pals in NZ but very reminiscent of the Rhône.

So, the King of the Shop lives to rule another day, just, and he now knows he has a spare set of keys at home, knowledge that would have served him much better if his house keys hadn’t also been locked in the shop!

Cue fanfare.