Archive for March, 2014

Mother’s Day, Billecart Salmon Rose and beer marinated meat!

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Two very important events to remember this weekend.

·         First up we have Mothering Sunday on well, Sunday.  Historically this has been celebrated by breakfast in bed (usually from a grumbling husband querying how this became his job when this mother clearly isn’t his mother – kids, get up!!) followed up by a big Sunday lunch out somewhere nice, bunches of flowers, hugs and kisses, an apocalyptic family row mid-afternoon, a cup of tea and then home.

According to Wayne’s close associates at Wiki there are other names for this day, names that seem strangely appropriate – Refreshment Sunday, Pudding Pie Sunday (apparently popular in Surrey), Mid-Lent Sunday (makes sense, but not a terribly imaginative naming), Simnel Sunday and Rose Sunday.  For me Refreshment Sunday has the most appeal, my son calling it Bothering Sunday made me laugh and hopefully my wife will like the perfume we’ve bought her… oh dammit, that’s that cat out of the bag!

·         The secret to a successful Mothering Sunday this year is in the timing.  No-one is going to thank you for turning up at the restaurant an hour late so do remember to put your clock forward an hour at 0100 hours on Sunday morning – you may lose an hour in bed but you can be re-juvenated by the knowledge that it is now summertime – get your shorts on, last one in the sea is a rotten egg!

Should you decide that perfume/chocolates/flowers are not enough for the other lady in your life and that a large glass of something is what she really deserves then we can heartily recommend any of our pink fizzes:

·         Billecart Salmon  Brut Rosé NV – £62.49

·         Ruinart Brut Rosé NV – £57.00

·         Moutard Prestige Brut Rosé NV – £29.99

·         Mayerling Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV – £14.99

·         Mimi Pink NV – £10.99

All fizz benefits from a ‘6 for 5’ discount – depends how many mothers you’re buying for I suppose!

Other things worth considering, going forward

I’m a Spurs fan, but in spite of that, for a long while I thought (and wagered) that Arsenal had a good chance of sneaking the Premiership title.  I was woefully wrong.

As summer approaches and we consider cooking outdoors, it appears that according to the Universidade do Porto and its findings published in the ACS’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry,  marinating your steaks in beer for a few hours can reduce levels of harmful carcinogens apparently found in meat cooked over the coals.  All beer is good, dark beer seems the most effective.  All this we read in the Drinks Business earlier this week, not the Daily Mail where, allegedly, it also appeared.

We beat Sri Lanka in the T20 with some fantastic power batting – just don’t get too used to it.

Wine School creaks back to life on Wednesday 23rd April at 8pm.  It’s an absolute blast, come along.  We’re just short of half full as I write, so do put your name down soon if you’re hoping to join in.  Further details attached, and if you want a better sales pitch than ‘it’s a blast’, talk to Wayne, he’s got all the patter.

Dates are from Wednesday 23rd April through to Wednesday 4th June – with a week off on Wednesday 28th May for half term.  £150 gets you a seat at the table, wine and crackers and more besides.

And now some wine

I think, since we’ve mentioned it more than once recently, we should open the Mimi Pink (£10.99) from New Zealand as a starter and then as we mentioned barbecue, move on to Hacienda del Plata ‘Zagal’ Malbec (£14.49) which is a fabulous drop we listed almost a year ago now.  It really reminds me of some of the wines I used to sell in the mid to late 90’s when Malbec was more about cherries, a dry well, structured palate with no artificial sweetness that sometimes winemakers use nowadays to disguise other shortcomings…  We like it, so are very happy to have it open all day!

Wine School, Wine & Cheese and, of course, Badgers…

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘I would have no objection to eating badgers. I have no objection to eating anything very much, really…’

This week a famous television cook died.  I realise this is news that you have all heard but if, like me, her television appearances passed you by and you only knew her as one of the Two Fat Ladies then might I suggest you go to discover what one needs to do to become ‘a character’.

As ever, when one chapter finishes a new one begins and it is with much excitement that we hear promising young talent Vera Lynn is to release a new album on 2nd June.  They don’t make them like they used to.

So what else has been going on?  Summer showed its face briefly last Sunday, the Irish continued their drinking spree from Cheltenham, via Paris on Saturday and then everywhere on Monday, St Patrick’s Day.  Wayne went running.  Over and over and over again.

Oh, and the budget.  Just to clarify duty did go up, it just didn’t go up by as much as it was programmed to.  A reprieve of sorts, but still an increase.

Our most recent Wine School wrapped up on Wednesday evening – everyone passed with flying colours and we sent them off into the cool night air filled with Champagne, broad ranging knowledge and an ability to hit a spittoon at 20 feet.  Congratulations on all your achievements.

Our monthly Wine and Cheese tasting last night just went further to prove that the more you study something the more complicated it becomes!  When we started these evenings 3 years ago we thought we had a pretty good idea about what went well with what, and why so – now we realise that in fact we know nothing. The silver lining to this cheese-cloud is that we will be continuing to present these evenings for a long time to come – the next one on 24th April is already sold out, but we have plenty of space on the following one on Thursday 22nd May at 8pm, here in the shop.  £20 per person, usual first come, first served rules apply, cash is king.

Wayne went shopping this week and bought some new things and some old favourites.  Our Biltong display now looks more mountain than molehill but hopefully this will now last us more than just the weekend.  Not content to settle for the dozen or so new wines we listed two weeks back, he has now bought a new sparkling rose from New Zealand – MIMI ROSE £10.99 – which he tells me is going to be this summer’s top tipple. 

Plus he has fiddled around with our Loire range a bit and bought two new wines – a Chardonnay from Domaine Herbauges who are based just west of Nantes in the heart of Muscadet country.  I know, a Chardonnay from there, who knew?  Anyway they age it ‘sur lie’ like they do with Muscadet, it is produced from old vines and sees no oak, which results in a deliciously fresh and lively wine with a tang of lemon acidity. Beautifully balanced and a delight in the glass.  Domaine Herbauges Moulin d’Argent Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2012 – £10.99 in fact let’s open it for tasting and we can all have a slurp.  He also bought a light red (Gamay) whilst he was floating around, which will certainly be a treat when the sun shines – L’Abbaye 2012 – £10.99.

Whilst we’re talking tasting, we have been meaning to open the Motus from Domaine Treloar – £16.99 for a couple of weeks now and then we read this:

Treloar, Motus 2011 Côtes du Roussillon 17.5 Drink 2014-2016

Based on Mourvèdre. Wow – creamy and sweet and soft, with gorgeous fruit purity. American oak aged (preferred to French to give a sweeter element and preserve the fruit). Long and fine. Smooth and succulent texture. Lovely tension between the tannin and acid. (RH)

Written by Richard Hemming on we realised we had to get it open ASAP.  5pm this evening, see you then.

If you read about the wine course finishing and thought ‘Darn, I can’t believe I missed that again, I wonder when the next one is as I’m sick and tired of being laughed at when I miss the spittoon’ have no fear, it will be returning on Wednesday 23rd April.  As ever it is a six week course, interrupted by a week off over half term and finishes up on Wednesday 4th June8pm start every Wednesday, 60-odd wines over the course, £150 per person.  Forget about the beach-body-beautiful for your summer hols and focus on the knowing what to have as a sundowner!  See the flier attached for more info or pop in and have a chat with us about it – we have a maximum of ten spaces so don’t be backward about coming forward!

35km this Sunday, Richmond Park, 10am – who’s with me……..??

Alex & Wayne

Meerlust Red, The Children’s Trust, Domaine Treloar Three Peaks

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well I have to say Alex called it well last week with England beating Wales in a very exciting match on Sunday. The Six nations looks too complicated to call for me, but if I understand it correctly, we need a baby to be born to a prop, an early sunrise in Rome, croissants for breakfast and then if all these stars align, there is an outside chance England may just win the Six Nations. I can’t believe I might have to cheer the French!

Alex’s tip for the Gold Cup cheated and ran in a different race, so that kind of blew our Cheltenham tip out of the water.

Elsewhere in the news the Bank of England’s very own George Clooney suggested that if Scotland gains independence then RBS will have to move to England – Royal Bank of Sunderland anybody? George Soros has warned that Europe could face 25 years of stagnating; having seen what stagnating can do to a pond I think we should try and stop that or else everything will be slimy and smell of eggs.

Wine News

Following on from the impressive list of new additions last week I’d just like to mention that Meerlust Red 2011 (£12.99) is back in stock.  The famed Stellenbosch estate didn’t make any Rubicon for this vintage so it is even tastier than ever! Also welcomed back to SW19 is the Aromo Viognier 2012 (£8.49) from Luis and the team in Maule Valley.

Marathon News (A calendar month to go!)

Mo Farah who, like Wayne, is making his full London Marathon debut in a month’s time, has returned from his altitude training in Iten, Kenya. He tweeted far too many pictures of sunshine whilst we were running in the rain. (Jose Mourinho style mindgames?)

Meanwhile our intrepid heroes are continuing their training plans apace. Both clocked up 30km runs last week, getting a bit of altitude in Richmond Park in Alex’s case, and over Herne Hill in Wayne’s. We’re a bit amazed at how hungry we get on occasion, and can both say with hand on heart that cold baths are an unpleasant experience.

The Children’s Trust is the UK’s leading charity for children with acquired brain injury, multiple disabilities and complex health needs.

Wayne is running for these guys and spent a great day there recently seeing what fantastic work they are doing. There are about 70 children resident and they have great facilities, including a fabulous tree house with wheelchair ramp (the longest in Europe!) and tracking under the corridor that allows the children to program their wheelchairs to take them between classes.

If you’d like to know more about The Children’s Trust there is a programme on BBC1 this Sunday 16th at 4.35pm, presented by Richard Hammond.

If you would be able to make a donation, and become a whisper of encouragement in our ears for 26.2 miles please go to

We, and more importantly the children, will be eternally grateful.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll give air to a couple of those new arrivals from last week. How about Marktree Semillon/Sauvignon (£8.29) from Western Australia in the white department, and Three Peaks (£12.99) a delicious Côtes de Roussillon from Domaine Treloar, owned by  Jonathan and Rachel Hesford, our newest best chums in South West France.

And lastly…

From Drinks Business “Wine scientists in Australia are recreating the conditions of a bushfire to help determine the effects of smoke on wine production.”

Firstly, surely a clue is in the word smoke.

Secondly, given that at least 4 million hectares of land have been affected by bushfires since 2000 is there a need to recreate them!

A nice weekend everyone!

Sunshine and New Wine

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Going to cheat a bit this week by reviewing last week’s email and assessing the impact.


The weather seems to have listened to our demands, at least in the short term, and has voted to continue with sunshine over the weekend by all accounts.  No need to thank me.


We all lost our pound on Sunderland last weekend in the League Cup but for the first half it looked like we could be millionaires.  We have however invested another pound on Vino Griego at 100-1 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next week – as you can imagine this selection wasn’t made looking at a form card.  Elsewhere we have beaten the great Danes at football, blown away the Windies in the cricket and look forward to harpooning some Wales on Sunday…


Now That’s What I Call Music seems to have tweaked some interest amongst you last week.  One customer was disappointed to find us listening to the rugby on Saturday – he was keen to catch up on some Kajagoogoo – whilst Belinda Carlisle found herself quickly dumped into Room 101.  This week Cat Stevens seems to have gone down well on Tuesday and Astrud Gilberto made us all smile in the sunshine today.  Expression of the week: Wayne’s face when my daughter asked him to put on some One Direction, which was swiftly followed by mutterings of ‘we’re not running a democracy here, luv!’

Currently playing Bryter Layter by Nick Drake, in the hope that we might be…

International News

The Sherry tasting in May has now completely SOLD OUT.  This is as far as I’m going with international news, the situation in Ukraine not being something to be flippant about.

This week in brief

We have had an absolutely brilliant week this week.  Having been to all sorts of tastings over the last month or so, we have finally managed to get some of the wines we tried on the shelves and very excited about it we are too.  Now, I’m not going to write descriptions about each wine here but I will give you a list of all the new wines to whet your appetites:

Castanzu Vermentino 2012, Sardegna, Italy                £8.49

Centopassi Rosso 2012, Sicily, Italy  £12.99

Domaine Singla ‘La Crinyane’ 2009, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France             £23.99

False Bay Shiraz 2012, Western Cape, South Africa                £8.49

Gran Passione Rosso 2012, Veneto, Italy       £12.99

Johanneshof Reinisch St. Laurent 2011, Thermenregion, Austria                  £17.99

Le Ciel Vide 2011, Côtes du Roussillon, France          £10.49

Le Maudit 2011, Côtes du Roussillon, France              £15.99

Marktree Semillon/Sauvignon 2012, Western Australia       £8.29

Marktree Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, South Eastern Australia           £8.29

Motus 2011, Côtes du Roussillon, France       £16.99

Muscat de Rivesaltes 2011, France     £11.99

One Block Grenache 2011, Côtes Catalanes, France £11.99

Rio Cassero Brunello di Montalcino 2008, Tuscany, Italy  £29.49

Salcheto Chianti Colli Senese 2012, Tuscany, Italy   £11.49

Tamboerskloof Viognier 2013, Stellenbosch, South Africa £17.99

Three Peaks 2010, Côtes du Roussillon, France         £12.99

Tornai Zenit 2012, Somlo, Hungary  £10.59

Valenciso Blanco 2012, Rioja, Spain                £19.99

So there you have it, the fruits of our labours – our tongues went black and our teeth fell out but we were more than happy to do so to get these top drops in the shop!

As a consequence we will have a couple of bottles open today and tomorrow – I think we will carry on with our Italian theme from last week and try the Castanzu Vermentino 2012 and the Gran Passione Rosso 2012.  If all goes according to plan we might also have a bottle of the new vintage (2009) of the Tamboerskloof Syrah open, should anyone be interested.

Sunshine this weekend, rosé’s in the fridge ready, form an orderly queue…