Archive for November, 2013

Birthdays, Christmas Lights & Kings Ginger

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Here was the news:

·         Euromillions numbers: 8 19 28 32 46 – Star Balls 4 7 – no winners, €15,000,000 rollover…
·         Temperatures fall to -11C in parts of Somerset
·         Second Test in Adelaide, day 1:  Australia 245 (85.5 overs); England 1/0 (1 over).  England trail by 244 runs with 10 wickets remaining in the 1st innings
·         Bankia was formed as a result of the union of seven Spanish financial institutions, with major presence in their areas of influence
·         Megamind, Secretariat, Monsters – all released in UK cinemas (did we see these?)
·         Better Than Today by Kylie released (I know, me neither)

·         Some selected Mail online headlines:

Not bad for a 22-year-old: F1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Petra to buy £66m house

Jobless couple with six children demand bigger house (but say, ‘We’re not scroungers, honest!’)

Two to Tango-ed? Strictly’s fake tanned Gavin Henson and Katya Virshilas do after-hours quickstep to ITV movie party

Sixteen… or six? Justin Bieber draws on his face, plays with toys and throws a tantrum at restaurant

But whilst the world was going crazy in a flurry of Bieber-induced, non-lottery winning, freezing cold, divide-between-rich-and-poor emphasising, bad-movie-release mayhem, two brave souls were just about to turn the lights on in SW19…

… and they’ve being turning them back on most days for the past 3 years!  Yes indeed, next Tuesday, 3rd December will be our third birthday.  If it was a wedding anniversary it would be our ‘leather’ one, but it’s not, so we won’t, much to everyone’s relief.

So yep, we’re still here – mind you so is Wine Rack – but we wouldn’t be if you hadn’t all kept on walking through our door, coming to our tastings, getting us to help out with your school events/weddings/balls/gallery openings and generally keeping us out of the house and usefully occupied six days a week.  So thank you, you know who you are!

However it’s not just the shop that is celebrating, Wayne also has a big birthday this year.  Not that sort of big birthday, it’s more to do with the fact that he’s had an awful lot of them already, the numbers are getting bigger and bigger and our insurance premium has rocketed to cover the potential fire damage from all the candles on his cake!

So a double celebration this weekend.  Let’s make it a triple – we’re seeing the start of Advent on Sunday and as a consequence the Christmas lights are being turned on at Christ the King at 4pm on Saturday – as if you needed another excuse to visit Arthur Road.


Because by now we all need one.  To celebrate all these birthdays we will have Morton Blanc de Blanc 2002 Methode Traditionelle (£19.99) on pour, and once your tastebuds have been suitably tantalised we can then offer you a taste of Jean-Baptiste Ponsot Rully 1er Cru Montpalais 2011 (£22.49) one of our favourite white burgundies and Vieux Chateau Gaubert 2005, Graves, Bordeaux (£23.49) a cracking claret from a cracking vintage, and soon to be available in magnums in time for Christmas.

As it’s his birthday, Wayne will be manning the spirits stand, where we have the Dutch Courage Gin (£33.99), the Mamont Vodka (£35.99) and the Finlaggan Whisky (£29.99) all open for tasting and spirited debate.  Whilst you’re chatting ask him about the King’s Ginger, our new Cremorne Gentleman Badger’s Wild Blackthorn Sloe Gin and all the other exciting spirits we have on the shelves.

Should you feel the need for some non-liquid refreshment at this point, if you just look to your left, towards the sparkling wine and beside the Meerlust Rubicon stack you might just glimpse our newest arrival: Biltong!!!  Available in 150g bags, for £5.50 a bag, this is the genuine article, made by genuine South Africans – and it’s made just down the road!  Flavours are Peri-Peri or Original, with the latter being extremely popular with the wines at our Bordeaux tasting last week.

Free Mince Pies should also be available throughout as we continue our very scientific research into the best ones for Christmas Day, come and help!

We’ll leave it there for now – no need to talk about cricket, football match fixing or Tottenham’s return to mediocrity, this is a time for celebration not a time for recrimination!

Looking forward to sharing a glass of bubbles with you all over the weekend and, as Wayne is fond of saying:

Bottoms up!!

This week we find ourselves talking in American accents, wondering why a bay is named after pigs…

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we find ourselves talking in American accents, wondering why a bay is named after pigs (do they like to swim, surf, sunbathe or fish?). We find ourselves ruminating on a time before even Wayne was born – back in those days the world was mostly in black and white, Presidents drove around in convertible cars and nobody had yet thought of dub-step.

50 years ago today John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Numerous conspiracy theories abound and even as recently as this year 59% of American’s think there is more to it than meets the eye. Writers Aldous Huxley and CS Lewis share JFK’s day of demise but seem to have had less column inches devoted to them. Additionally, the second Beatles album, “With the Beatles”, came out in the UK.

We’ve been rooting out our best Pumpkin Pie recipes and feeling thankful. Thankful, because we’re not turkeys, thankful that we’re not taking a flight in the US, but mostly thankful that we remembered our sweater. Thursday is Thanksgiving and Americans everywhere will be full of turkey, using the remote to turn the game up and the kids down, and desperately trying to duck out of doing the dishes!

Tasting This Weekend – We will open a pair of Cambria’s, from California, in honour of the above events (well, maybe not the Beatles album).

Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 (£22.99)“Bright yellow. Complex aromas of musky pear skin, lees, iodine and oak spice. Deep but lively, offering moderately sweet orchard fruit flavors and a strong lashing of brown spices. A zesty mineral quality lingers on the long, spicy finish.” 89 points, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (£24.99)“Another lovely Julia’s Pinot from Cambria, at a fair price. With its light tannins and transparency, it’s definitely Pinot Noir, and the acidity testifies to a cool climate. You might even pick out the Santa Maria Valley from the crushed Indian spices. Subtle but intriguing cherry, cola and plum flavors round out the picture. Drink now-2015.” 92 points, Wine Enthusiast

Wine School – Once the palaver of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and January are out of the way we find ourselves in February, ready to face the year ahead.  What better way to kick it all off than by learning a bit more about what’s in your wine glass in the convivial surroundings of your local wine shop? 

Ok so a sun-drenched vineyard would be better, but we can’t offer that yet.  In the meantime our ever popular 6 week course starts on Wednesday 5th February at 8pm and concludes on Wednesday 19th March.  Those of you with keen observation skills will have already realised that this period is in fact 7 weeks – we are taking a week off for half term (19th February) whilst Alex goes and hones his beach volleyball skills in Dubai…

Wine School Wednesday 5th February – Wednesday 19th March £150 per person.  We await your call, more details attached.

Slice of History – Way back in the summer when the sun was shining and we were still in short trousers, we received an email containing Christmas gift ideas. We immediately poo-pooed the idea and got an ice-cream. Randomly we then went back to said email and replied to it, promptly forgetting all about it until yesterday.

We are now the proud owners of wooden boxed mini verticals of Meerlust Rubicon. For a mere £90 you can have one too!

Boy, are they lovely! Handcrafted wood boxes (dovetail joints, sliding lid, the whole caboodle!) containing a bottle each of:

Meerlust Rubicon 2004 “Concentrated and grippy, with dark, roasted plum, black licorice, charcoal, mesquite and bittersweet cocoa notes. Traditional in vein, with an iron- and earth-filled finish that should soften nicely with cellaring. (90 points)” Wine Spectator – James Molesworth – September 30, 2008

Meerlust Rubicon 2006 “Ripe and dense, but sleek and focused, with a lovely core of mulled black currant, warm fig paste and tobacco, laced with mouthwatering dark olive and iron notes that help the finish stretch out nicely. Has solid grip in reserve, too. (90 Points) ”  Wine Spectator – James Molesworth – November 15, 2010

Meerlust Rubicon 2007 “One of the best vintages of Rubicon to date, and for the price it’s a fantastic value that’s great for building up your cellar. Right now, the wine is still young and tight, with firm, gripping tannins that need some time to mellow. Fortunately, there’s a great concentrated black-fruit core and enough acidity alongside the tannins to support long-term aging. Spicy and earthy, with accents of black tea, cedar and crushed violets. 92 Points” Wine Enthusiast – Lauren Buzzeo – May 2012

That’s enough from us for this week, if you’re going out in an open top car, wear a vest!

Wayne & Alex

PS Cricket, what cricket?

Tasting Bordeaux, Wine Gifts & Wayne runs for The Children’s Trust

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It has taken a few weeks but I have finally managed to wrestle The Weekly Wine from Alex. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the kind tips, words of encouragement, expressions of incredulity, and general support that you all expressed when Alex begged help to find me a spot in the London Marathon.

Thanks to your efforts and suggestions I’m in! I have secured a gold bond place with The Children’s Trust, who are Britain’s leading charity for children with brain injury. Training has started in earnest and we will give you regular updates on our progress, or not depending how interesting we can make it. Thus far we have both run a bit, my new trainers already have 350km on the clock and Alex is at the trainer shop this morning!

My wife has already decided that she has become a running widow! She was less keen on joining the Sunday runs, but any of you can join in the fun should you like, just get in touch and we’ll arrange some training runs in January!

Corporate Gifts

I know that Guy Fawkes is still warm, and there maybe a few pieces of Jalebi or Kaju Katli left over from Diwali, but time waits for no-one. This is an unapologetic seasonal sales pitch.

We received an order this week from a corporate client ordering some wine for their staff for Christmas. Now if that wasn’t you, but it was something you were thinking about, just think of this as a nudge. We can deliver locally for you, use couriers for further afield, we can even send a magnum! In the past we have gift packed Claret and Chablis, sent mixed cases to Essex, Kent and Northumberland, not to mention Cognac to Bermondsey!

Come in, tell us what you’d like and we’ll sort it out for you. Being earlier gives us more opportunity to help and more opportunity to order extra stock as required. We’re much less crowded than Fortnum & Mason, but possibly less good on the oysters for lunch afterwards!

Dinner Party?

We matched some wines to a dinner party menu for a client this week. We can do the same for you just bring us (or email) your menu and we’ll put together wines to partner your meal and even deliver them. Sadly Alex has declined all opportunities to do the dishes, but we’ll keep asking him! Why not start off with a glass of Ruinart?

Bordeaux Tasting

A big thanks to all who enjoyed our Bordeaux tasting last night, our chum Jeremy did us proud. All the wines were showing well, but I particularly enjoyed the Ch. Faizeau 05 Montagne St Emilion (£25.99) that has opened up a lot since last time I tried it.

Tasting This Weekend

Well following on from a successful Bordeaux tasting last night we thought we’d just bat on in the same vein. Chateau Fourcas Dupré 04, Listrac Medoc (£21.49) would be a good place to start. Some of you may remember Jane Macquitty gave it a rave review in The Times earlier in the year. We’ll also roll out Chateau Thieuley 2006, AC Bordeaux (£15.49). Then we’ll just spoil you with Chateau Cameron 2007, Sauternes (£11.49).

Have a great weekend all!


Ruinart Champagne, Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux Tasting

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, well, well – it seems we’re all going to get the sack.

Apparently the Alcohol Health Network is pushing for employers to be allowed to test their staff for ‘misuse of alcohol’ in order to decrease the amount of working days lost to hangovers and hospital visits.  A thoroughly laudable concept with the nation’s health put very much to the forefront and improved productivity as its goal.

However, we are clearly a touch biased but this proposal seems to be doomed from the outset.

The sticking point is the word ‘staff’.  When I used to work in Wine Bars it was never the secretaries or the post room workers that would be in for a glass of sherry at 10.30am or who would be ordering another bottle of wine at 3.30pm having been in for lunch at noon.  Nor was it the trainees who, when out with their boss, would be ordering rounds of Champagne for everyone, upon losing a game of spoof.  I’m in no way chastising these activities but if you want to drug test your staff it has to be lead from the front – and frankly I cannot see that happening.

Celebrate the completion of a deal with a pint of Champagne or a cup of Costa – what do you think!?

Plus the old adage that you’d rather get paid to have a hangover than wallow in your misery at home still holds true.  So nice idea, but for now (and here Wayne breathes a sigh of relief) we won’t be instituting any such policy chez PV!


·         Put the clocks back an hour – DONE

·         Paint children luminous green, send them out onto the streets to forage for sugar coated sustenance, carve pumpkins – DONE

·         Beat the Aussies at Twickenham in a scrappy mess of a game (but the score is what will be remembered!) – DONE

·         Profess outrage at the fact that Hugo Lloris was allowed to play on with concussion, whilst ignoring the fact that such things have been going on in American Football and Rugby for years – DONE

·         Wrap up warm, re-mortgage the house, pay to stand in a field for an hour, say ‘ooh!’ and ‘aah!’ repeatedly, reflect on why a hot dog is really called a hot dog, marvel at the value of dodgems for a fiver… – DONE

·         Look at flights to the sun for early January – DONE

·         Stow away shorts and suncream, defrost sweaters, gloves, scarves etc – DONE


·         Remembrance Sunday

·         Buy last two tickets for Bordeaux Tasting

·         Thanksgiving

·         Christmas Lights turning on

·         Christmas

·         NYE

·         2013 – DONE


As mentioned late last week we have had two places come free on our tasting next week with our pal Jeremy.  Keen interest has been shown but thus far no commitment.  To add a little extra incentive, here is a list of the wines that we will be tasting:

·         Glass of fizz to start with (Champagne rather than Cremant de Bordeaux methinks)

·         Château Thieuley Blanc 2012 – AC Bordeaux

·         Château Fourcas Dupré 2001 – Listrac-Médoc

·         Château Fourcas Dupré 2004 – Listrac-Médoc

·         Château Thieuley Rouge 2006 – AC Bordeaux

·         Château Lanessan 1996 – Haut-Médoc

·         Château Faizeau 2005 – Montagne-St-Émilion

·         Château Croix de Gay 2009 – Pomerol

·         Something sweet – TBC

Seems a bit of a no-brainer to me….


… waiting for a delivery which is now here, hence the tardiness of this email.

This delivery contained some new listings which I wanted to tell you about, notably:

Dom Ruinart 2002, Dom Perignon 2004, Krug Grande Cuvée Half bottles, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Ruinart Rosé, Ruinart Brut, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Cheval des Andes 2008 and Numanthia 2009.

As they are new listings and we want everyone to give them a try, Ruinart’s Rose, Blanc de Blancs and Brut have had a meeting and have decided to sell themselves  for £5 less than their normal shelf price until Christmas for a single bottle (usual 6 for 5 deal applies for bulk).  Bless them.

All bottles are clambering onto the shelves as I write, so will be ready to greet you later on.


Greywacke Sauvignon 2013 (£16.99) has just arrived from NZ so we’ll open a bottle of that for everyone’s delectation, including our own since we’ve not tasted it yet!  Whilst we’re in the southern hemisphere, and perhaps sensible given the rugby fixture tomorrow, we’ll open Chakana Malbec 2013 (£10.89) from Mendoza, Argentina, a wine we have just re-listed and one that appears in this month’s Park Vintners Wine Club case.  Two wines from 2013, very exciting!

But whatever you do this weekend, particularly Sunday, please do take a moment to stop what you’re doing, charge your glass in remembrance and raise a toast to Absent Friends.

Camera fade to black.

Firefighters Free Puppy, Brangelina Barrel, Barton Chenin Blanc

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As it’s half term, it’s a bit of a slow news week but here are four contrasting headlines that we saw in the trade press over the past few days:

World facing ‘deepest’ wine shortage in 40 years

‘Panic buying hits Arthur Road – barely a bottle left on the shelf’ admits puzzled wine shop owner Wayne Blomfield.

Not entirely true of course, but Morgan Stanley have reported that demand exceeded supply by a mere 300 million cases in 2012 and that, coupled with the smaller 2012 and 2013 vintages, could result in a bit of a supply issue.  More of us are drinking wine, less is available, prices will go up.

Hopefully this might see the demise of some of the bottom shelf, industrial producers – oh hang on, no such luck…

Yellow Tail celebrates one billion bottles

All you need to know about these wines:

·         The sweetened-up, Kangaroo labelled, jammy disgrace targeted at the Coca-Cola generation has produced its billionth bottle – made even more shocking by the fact the brand was only first produced in 2001

·         That’s at least 5 billion glasses of plonk

·         It retails at around $5 in the US

·         They have also created a $100 bottle to try and drag the brand out of the gutter – ??

·         Could any of this publicity puff be related to the hard fact that Casella Wines, the owners of Yellow Tail, this year posted a financial loss for the first time, suggesting consumers could be trading up or switching to other brands/rivals

·         Still not quite enough of a shortage of some wines it would seem…

Barrel of ‘Brangelina’ wine sells for €10k

Admittedly the money went to charity, but really, 10,000 euros?

Firefighters free puppy from wine rack

The shop over the road is likely to be re-inventing itself as a hair salon in the very near future, and when the staff heard their jobs were at risk they resorted to some extreme, hostage taking measures. 

However, once 999 had been called, the intervention of some brave fire-fighters ensured that the 10 week old Labrador puppy was released unharmed and the staff arrested.  Maybe.

Marathon update

He’s in.

We were truly overwhelmed by all the helpful suggestions we received for getting Wayne a place in the marathon.  Suffice to say he got on the blower straight away to all the relevant parties and eventually secured himself a number plus a hefty fundraising target. 

He’s happy to do anything to raise money as long as it’s mostly legal and he will still be able to run afterwards!

This weekend

We’ll both be here – the first time for a couple of weekends – and hopefully you’ll be here to, stocking up before all the wine runs out.  We’ll have bottles open – one old favourite and one new boy – both of whom have travelled from South Africa.

Barton Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2012 £9.79 from Walker Bay is silky smooth with apple and pear aromas, more pear and hints of citrus on the palate and a zingy, crisp finish.

Laibach Pinotage 2012 £15.69 from Stellenbosch is a bit of a rarity for us – a Pinotage that Wayne actually quite enjoys.  Not nearly as smoky/burnt-rubber/earthy as some can be, far more red fruit and, dare I say it, elegance – trust me, you should try it.


Still a couple of seats left at the table for our Sparkling and Champagne evening on Wednesday 27th November – when I say a couple, I mean three but you get the gist – £25 per seat, cash is king.

It seems to be all about Aussie in sport at the moment – the Ashes is slowly creaking into life, we’re hosting them at Twickenham tomorrow and we’ve got the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday 5th November – should go off with a bang!

Anyway, hopefully see you all over the weekend to discuss strategy for dealing with this upcoming shortage!