Archive for February, 2014

Service will be fabulous, jokes will be free flowing, as will wine

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Can you remember where you were when you first saw it?

I was standing in the Old Deer Park last Sunday when I first glimpsed it; Wayne reckons he saw it outside the shop last Friday; Chris from down the road reckons he saw it in America last week but he can’t be sure; my wife claims that her mother saw it in Dorset about 12 days ago…

And it was beautiful; a giant orb of bright gold surrounded by miles and miles of deep blue sky – not something any of us have had much of recently and very welcome.  Daffodils have leapt out of their beds and are busy straightening themselves out for parade on Saturday and my sales of rosé wines have gone through the roof.


It’s March tomorrow, the first month of spring, the month where the clocks change to summer time, the month where we all come back to life – before we know it the cricket season will have started.  Well done chaps, we’ve made it.


Meanwhile from the sidelines this week we watched Man Utd romp to defeat in Europe on Tuesday proving that even with a player you consider to be worth £300,000 a week, goals don’t create themselves.  Saturday saw a fantastic game of rugby at Twickenham and this week we look forward to Sunderland trouncing Man City 3-0 in the League Cup.  Current odds on this are 150-1 whereas a city 3-0 win is only 7-1…. I prefer the idea of £150 pounds, so I know where my money is going!


And in music news,  I have discovered that playing Now That’s What I Call Music 2 (26 March 1984 if you’re interested) on Spotify has a positive effect on my customers mood – who knew that (Feels like) Heaven by Fiction Factory would get so many feet tapping?  I will continue my experiments further this evening….

Regional headlines

So it’s the annual celebration of the death of pious Dave from the Valleys tomorrow and in the absence of Penderyn whisky or Brains beer, we are recommending consumption of either of our Cambria wines from California – it’s the closest we have to Welsh wine I’m afraid.  Cambria Chardonnay £22.99 – Cambria Pinot Noir £24.99.

International news

Wayne announced last week the fabulous Sherry evening we are having on the 1st May.  Interest has been huge, so if you’re still humming and hawing now is the time to commit.  £20 per person, bring your own spaghetti western accent.

And finally…

For the first time in ages it seems, we are both in situ tomorrow.  Service will be fabulous, jokes will be free flowing, as will wine.  Not sure what I’m going to do whilst Wayne is doing all this, join in the wine tasting perhaps, maybe lean against the wall for a bit and then have a wander outside to see why there’s so much congestion….

Anyway the wines we are going to open up will be the new, 2012 vintage of the Morton Estate Chardonnay (£10.99) which seems a bit leaner and crisper than previous versions.  On the red side we have just listed Ripa delle Mandorle 2012 (£13.99) which is a delicious Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend made by Tenuta Vicchiomaggio in Tuscany.  We loved it when we tried it a couple of weeks back and reckon it’ll be ripper with some steak (sorry)!

Back to work now, see you over the weekend for a glass of something tasty.

Over and out.

Wayne & Alex

Curling, Sherry Tasting and Soave

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As the sun sets on Curling’s place on national television for another four years, I’d like to congratulate Team GB on equalling our greatest haul of winter medals.

Returning to proper sports, it’s a sure sign that spring and sunshine must be on the way as the cycling season has started in earnest. Mark Cavendish is competing down in Portugal at the Volta ao Algarve, whilst Sir Bradley Wiggins is spinning his legs just across the border in Ruta Del Sol. Chris Froome meanwhile? Tour of Oman – these boys do like a spot of winter sun don’t they?

This evening we have Wales hosting the French in Cardiff with lots to prove after their pasting in Dublin, whilst tomorrow England will host Ireland hoping to avoid a similar fate.

David Bowie’s success at the Brits shows there’s life in the old Diamond Dog yet, and I think that his invitation for Scotland to stay with us probably just about rounded Alex Salmond’s week off!

The UK has become Ferrari’s biggest market in Europe with 677 cars sold. We’re looking in to the policy on a Saturday morning test drive; let’s see how many cases of wine we can get in one!

Wine News

Following on from our mention of Brangelina’s Provençal wine, news reaches us this week that Terminator & Avatar film director James Cameron has bought a wine estate in Canada’s Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.

Also, according to the D&D restaurant group, restaurants in Leeds sell more champagne than restaurants in London. Who says its grim up north?

Sherry Tasting

We’ve talked about Sherry with quite a number of you, discussed its rising popularity, the enormous number of Spanish bars and restaurants that have opened recently, and what lovely value for money it can be just for the sheer complexity of flavour you get.

You asked us if we’d do a tasting, we said “Um”, and then you begged us and we said “we’ll ask our chum Bea”. So that’s what we did.

This week we are proud to announce that we have managed to sync diaries and put a date in the calendar. Bea is very much our local expert, hailing from the heart of Sherry land, she also graduated top of the class in her Sherry Educator’s Course run by El Consejo Regulador in Jerez.

THURSDAY 1st MAY at 8pm. Sherry Tasting here at the shop. Limited numbers as usual, you all know the drill. £20 per person, give us a call to book your place on 020 8944 5224

We’ll open some sherry, have Bea talk us through what’s in the glass, through in some tapas snacks and generally have a good time. Who knows, Alex might even show us his Flamenco dancing.

Wine School

Full details attached, but suffice to say starts on 23rd April at 8pm sharp. Full details attached.

Tasting this weekend

This week we’re feeling all a bit Italian.

We’ll start off in the Veneto with Tedeschi Soave Classico (£12.49) because it seems we haven’t had it in ages, and then to make a winning pair, how about a spot of Telero Negroamaro del Salento (£9.99) from the warm sunny south?

And lastly…Marathon Training

So far so good, we managed to actually run together last Sunday taking a trip from here up through Chelsea and round Kensington Gardens. Nice and sunny, the right speed and a nice change of scenery.

This week we’re both running the Richmond Deer Park Half Marathon on Sunday so give us a wave if you’re there, and don’t gloat too much if you zip past!

Have a great weekend!

Tastings, Gusbourne Estate, Cahors, Wine and Cheese

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As we all open cards, buy double priced roses, and wonder if heart shape chocolates were really the best idea; I would just mention that, along with Ambrose of Milan, St Valentine is the Patron Saint of Beekeepers. Does that mean a jar of honey may have been better than those chocs? For any late adopters we’re here till 8 and have some cold fizz in the fridge!

On the subject of cold, the Winter Olympics are progressing over in Sochi, Team GB are currently lying 23rd in the medal table but have high hopes in both curling and tin tray skeleton with Lizzy Yarnold in the lead for the ladies and set to launch herself down the mountain at 90 mph later today. I remember having a go at that as a kid. Fearless, then mostly tired and wet, I was in so much trouble when I got home. The tray was never much good for teacups after that!

Elsewhere the Olympic legacy is alive and well with a large increase in both canoeing and windsurfing since Christmas.

 Wine News

The folks at Gusbourne Estate in Kent (we sell their delicious Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2009 – £31.99) are featured in today’s Independent (page 47 I’m told) but I read it on their website.

Go and have a look.

What we did this week…

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed we have opened the shop a little tardily this week.  For this we can only apologise, due to a failure of competing suppliers to co-ordinate their diaries we have spent 3 consecutive days off at wine tastings, only making it back here at around 3 o’clock.

I can’t say it hasn’t been fun, or indeed difficult, in places, we’ve bumped into some friends, sniffed, slurped and spat all sorts of wines, a 1974 Colheita port was very tasty at one tasting, an Argentinian Pinot Noir pretty horrid at another, and it’s always a nice change to have a Pret sandwich instead of a Co-op one.

Keep your eyes peeled then folks new wines on the way.

Otherwise we did a couple of menu matching/tastings for people organising large events. So if you’re planning a ball, big party or wedding come and have a chat with us, we’ve done it before.

Wine & Cheese Tasting

When we announced the March date you all went a bit gaga and we sold out as quickly as Glastonbury. With that in mind the April date will be Thursday 24th April, 8pm here at the shop bring your taste buds and we’ll sort out the Cheese n Wine. £20 per person.

Sherry Tasting

We’ve been asked repeatedly about organising one of these, so watch this space we’re talking to our chum Bea trying to co-ordinate a diary date for this.

Taste this Weekend

Alex has a hankering for some Chateau Paillas Cahors 2002 (£12.59) which is a fab vintage for Cahors so we’ll not deny him, and it’ll be offset by Vetiver Blanco 2011 (£10.79) our delicious white Rioja.

I think that’ll do from us this week, if you’re going out and about don’t forget your Pac-a-mac!

The London Distillery Company, Dodd’s Gin, Riesling and Regnie

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

You get the feeling that some of the headlines this week are not going to disappear in a hurry.

Paul Downton’s removal of Kevin Pieterson from the England setup could well define his time as managing director of England Cricket – not sure anyone has ever made quite such a bold move on their first day in the job and it makes you wonder what he got up to on days two, three and four…

The weather, the sea, railways losing their footing, trees toppling, Somerset sinking – none of that’s changing in a hurry…

Winter Olympics has started, coverage is laughable compared to the Summer version, and if you’re very lucky you might just catch some snippets on the BBC…

Michael Laudrup gets his P45 and doesn’t really know why – I’m sure if he goes onto twitter there are plenty of trolls who could tell him…

From The Drinks Business: The first tranche of the 200,000-bottle production of Château Miraval 2013 is expected to go on sale at 9am (French time) Friday morning via the estate’s website, where those signed up to the waiting list will be given access to a six-bottle case.  For those of you who don’t know, this is a Rosé wine, sold on allocation – just happens to be owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie…

So anyway, yesterday we had a right treat – we went off to The London Distillery Company for a tour and an immersion in the world of small-production Gin and Whisky.  It’s located in an old dairy behind Ransome’s Dock near to Battersea Park.  I think we mentioned them before Christmas when we first listed the Gin but for anyone who missed it, here’s a reminder:

It is a little known fact that the inception of TLDC started long before Darren and Nick Taylor met in 2011, or when Andrew joined the Team in 2012. Really, the history of the company stretches all the way back to 1807, when a serial entrepreneur by the name of Ralph Dodd sent a prospectus to potential investors outlining his plans for a new distillery. Having grown tired of the pernicious quality of spirits being retailed at the time, establishing such a company, in his mind, was a necessity, a virtue and “a national good”.

The London Distillery Company as Ralph Dodd dreamt it over two hundred years ago was never fully realised. But his vision, to provide the British public with Genuine British Spirits of the best quality and without any adulteration, is a noble one that we at TLDC continue to champion today.

Yes indeed, here in south west London, on the wrong side of the river for many, we have our very own distillery.  The Whisky is still very much in its infancy but the Gin is definitely fully grown up.  Andrew MacLeod Smith, the head distiller gave us an hour and a half of his time, talked us through the botanicals (and why they chose particular ones), the process, the problems and pitfalls, and of course the success.  It was a fascinating experience, he is a superb advocate of his product and the location of the distillery is the stuff of fairytales (to my mind at least) – it’s a distillery, next door to a pub, next door to a pop-up ‘Street Kitchen’ and then across the courtyard (via the Table Tennis tables) you have McGuigan’s Gym – owned by Shane son of Barry, who was in attendance.  Brilliant, when can I move in!

All good things come to an end and we returned to Wimbledon Park, the whiff of juniper still strong in our noses, thoroughly enthused by what three people can achieve through dollops of hard work and buckets of self belief (and a helpful splash of crowd funding!)

The Gin is open here on our spirits tray, so if you want to taste what all the fuss is about then just say the word.  Dodd’s Gin (49.9%) – £37.50.

Don’t fret though, I haven’t forgotten, we are a wine shop and thus, of wine we must talk!  Everybody should be back on the wine boat now but if you feel unsure about where to recommence your wine odyssey then why not come and taste what we have open this weekend:

Reichsrat Von Buhl Riesling Trocken 2012 £13.99 – this is a rip-roaring world class Riesling.  Dry, with peachy aromas, a hint of flinty minerality yet still fleshy on the palate.  Really long, vibrant finish with a mere hint of grapefruit – brilliant.

Maison des Bulliats Regnie 2012 – £10.99 – We’ve been buying this wine for a few years now and it just seems to get better and better!  Soft fruit tannins, great structure and a great length.  Fred and Helen, who own the vineyard, live in Southfields so we’re keeping it local, sort of!