Archive for July, 2014

Summer in the City, Picpoul de Pinet, Old Vine Zinfandel

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Summer in the city where the air is still/A baby being born to the overkill/Who cares what people say/We walk down love’s motorway/Ambition and love wearing boxing gloves/And singing hearts and flowers

I’ve spent a good portion of today trying to find a musical introduction to the email that would reflect the fabulous weather we have been enjoying of late. I finally went with the slightly surreal pop lyricism of Aztec Camera for a variety of reasons:

• Roddy Frame is from East Kilbride, so close enough to link in with the Commonwealth Games
• The words make absolutely no sense whatsoever but in the late 80’s (1988, I believe) it wasn’t ever about lyrics making sense
• All the other songs I could think of relating to hot weather, cities and such like seemed to revolve around it being too hot in here/we should probably take our clothes off/let’s go out tonight and get drunk/And then take our clothes off/It’s too hot to be dressed/let’s go dancing and get drunk/and then let’s take our clothes off….
• Which just didn’t seem appropriate for what I was trying to say

There are many joys and also some hard times that come with running your own business, especially a wine shop.

We work long hours, we rely on people walking through the door and actually liking the wines we have selected. Every day we have to try to be as jolly at 8pm as we were at 11am, which is, of course, easy as pie. However, one of the joys is the fact that we get to choose our own dress code. Alex has always been strict about us wearing closed-toed shoes (something to do with glass breakages and customers not necessarily wanting to see our feet) but otherwise no real restrictions apply.

Which is why we’ve been wearing shorts and polo shirts for the last few weeks and it’s been darn glorious. It’s a small perk but it’s a perk nonetheless!

Exodus/Movement of Jah people!/Oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!

This link, courtesy of Mr Marley, is perhaps a bit more obvious. The last of the schools closed their doors for summer this week and the roads were soon swamped with estate cars filled with footballs, boogie boards, swimming costumes and parasols. Like a plug being pulled from a bath somewhere around well, Bath let’s say, London has been emptied and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall have been filled to the brim.

We’re still here though, selling Rosé by the tanker and keeping the fridges filled, so if you’re still here too, take pleasure in having the city to yourself and space to park your car!

Not much more to add I believe.

The Wine School (consecutive Wednesdays, 17th September to 22nd October – £150) is slowly swelling in numbers, if you haven’t signed up yet, take advantage of the shorter queues we will have over the next week or two – details attached.

Wine & Cheese evening – Thursday 4th September at 8pm same rules as ever, £20 per person.

Wines to taste this weekend will be the southern French, oyster-shuckers selection, Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2013 £11.99 a white wine built for July drinking and in the red chair we will be opening a BBQ classic Jewel Collection Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 £12.99 from Lodi, California – what better wine to match your grilled meats!

They’ll be open tonight from 5pm and all day tomorrow, so come in and enjoy them both whilst admiring Wayne’s knees!


Mutant Worms, Moët Ice Impérial, Maias Branco on telly

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

In the realm of the ‘drinks and drinking’ media it feels like some of the grown-ups have gone on holiday and the student interns are running amok. Certainly we have found two items this week that I’m sure wouldn’t make front pages around budget time or Christmas.

So, first up and a serious contender for headline of the year and one that would appeal to the aforementioned students:

Mutant worm could help alcoholics
I won’t bore you too much with the science (why let facts ruin a good story) but Professor Jon Pierce-Shimomura from the University of Texas’ College of Natural Sciences and Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research has apparently done something clever involving the words potassium, modified and cell membranes. The worm in question is made insensitive to alcohol (that’s the mutant bit) while still able to carry out its usual functions operating heavy machinery and driving a cab.

This breakthrough doesn’t actually sound like it’s going to help alcoholics address the health issues of their disease, more it’ll just make them able to drink more efficiently and for longer.

In the article the parting shot was: “The research could even be used to develop a ‘James Bond’ drug someday, which would enable a spy to drink his opponent under the table, without getting drunk himself.”
Only in Texas….

Moët Ice Impérial, a refreshing take on summer style

Our love affair (?) with Moët has been documented over the years but this we thought was worth page space. Launched in 2012 but only drifting onto our dusty radar last week we just had to share.

We like Champagne. We like the bubbles, the flavours, nuances, elegance and, damn it, the decadence of a glass for breakfast on a Tuesday. But there exist certain expectations (see previous sentence) and Champagne as a concept/brand/drink doesn’t really need to play around with its image to gain mass appeal. It doesn’t have to try and emulate cider, for example.

Enter Moët Ice Impérial. From their 2012 press release we glean:

The world’s first-ever champagne specifically created to be enjoyed on ice, Moët Ice Impérial is a refreshing take on summer style. “Moët Ice Impérial is a radically new way to drink champagne, and with a single sip, whisks you away to its warm and sunny world,” said Arnaud de Saignes, International Director of Marketing and Communications for Moët & Chandon.

Poetic licence, fine. But Champagne on ice – bit Magners, luv. It comes in a white bottle and in one of the photos is served with a slice of lime too. Sol, anyone? Oh and it’s sweet too – 45g/litre of sugar, or sweeter than Liebfraumilch if you wish. Think of a dry Asti Spumante and you’ll be close.

But we haven’t tasted it, it could be awesome, it retails for about £60+ and perhaps the last words are best left to Arnaud de Saignes:

“Whether enjoyed on ice by the beach with friends or experienced online, Moët Ice Impérial is itself a luxurious destination.”

We admit to being not the most savvy when it comes to new media, but can someone explain how you can enjoy a drink online – or in fact can anyone explain what the hell he is talking about? Luxurious destination, I ask you….

Why you should come to Wine School and why you shouldn’t.

As you may have read before we are doing our wine course once more after the summer has sizzled, starting on 17th September and drifting through until 22nd October.

That’s right, those Wednesday evenings that form the midweek watershed can now be filled with purpose. You’ve been good on Monday and Tuesday, gone to the gym and played tennis but by Wednesday the prospect of a glass of wine has greater appeal. How about justifying it as educational? We’ll taste about 60 wines over the 6 weeks from all over the world and from an array of varieties. We’ll taste white, red, rose, sweet, fizz and even corked wine, should this take your fancy! We’ll talk about food matching, wine lists, sommeliers and anything else you want to ask us questions about. We have even been known to give Champions League updates.

So really now the question is: why shouldn’t you? Frankly I cannot think of one good reason, even Wayne’s jokes have an endearingly comforting quality, reminiscent of an old cardigan…

So sign up today – £150 per person and a solution to the ‘what shall I do on Wednesday’ crisis!

Why you should vote for us in the Time & Leisure Food & Drink Awards 2014.

Because it would mean the world to us, we would be really grateful if you could and Waitrose don’t deserve it.

Wine & Cheese evening – Thursday 4th September at 8pm.

We’re taking a break from tastings in August but very early September sees us back on track, matching wine to cheese and continuing our quest for the perfect match. If you don’t want to miss out on that eureka! moment then book your place today. £20 per person and a fun evening out. Places as ever are limited, first come, first served seems to be a well established rule so let’s stick with that. 020 8944 5224 or should attract our attention!

What shall we drink this weekend
Shaping up to be hot and thunderous apparently, so I’m recommending wine.
Very exciting news for us this week was that one of our wines finally broke ranks and hit the big time, getting some airtime on the Food and Drink programme. Maias Branco 2013 – £11.39 is the wine, the estate being situated at the foot of Portugal’s largest mountain range, Serra da Estrela. Fleshy, almost golden delicious apple fruit and a lovely balanced finish, we think it’s fab and so do the celeb chefs now.
You can see for yourself here, fast-forward to 12 minutes 45 seconds and you’ll see what I mean. And just for this weekend, if you do watch the clip you can have the wine for the price she suggests it costs!

There will be red open too but I have to be honest here, I think we’ll decide on that one once the weather has decided which way it’s going to break.

An email filled with wine talk and no mention of sport – don’t tell Alex.

I’m off to git me a mutant worm and a bottle of hooch!

Bon weekend!

German Sauvignon Blanc, Argentinian Red Blend, Time & Leisure Best Wine Retailer-Vote for Us

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Pity the poor soul, mouthing soundlessly at his television in the 91st minute, Ladbrokes slip in hand bearing the legend

MATCH: Germany – Brazil / SCORE: 7 – 0 / ODDS: 1,000 – 1

Pity Jasper Cillessen, substituted off in the quarter-finals for the penalties in favour of Tim Krul, then only left on in the semis because Holland had run out of substitutions, the whole world knowing he was the second choice penalty stopper ( track record: never saved one, no sir, not one) and then Chris Waddle calls you limp wristed! (quote: The keeper will be disappointed because that was the one he could have saved, with strong wrists)

Speaking of wrists, pity Sir Bradley Wiggins, sitting at home, rocking away with his rug on his knees, supping a pint of mild and munching a cheese ‘n chips toastie whilst watching Chris Froome retire from the Tour de France…

Pity Justin Beiber, sent to anger management classes for egging a neighbour’s house – and fined the fabulously filthy fee of $80,000 damages… that’s a lot of eggs!

And pity the schoolchildren who couldn’t have their sports day yesterday due to the weather… can someone explain to me (and perhaps those in charge) the significant properties and benefits of an All Weather Track?

It may not be immediately obvious a lot of the time but we are in the business of sales. One of our eagle-eyed customers has actually noticed our selling success and sent us this email:

I have 4x tickets to England v India at Lords 4th day (yes, the day after my mate’s wedding in Bristol). Any chance you can see if anyone wants them for face value? Compton Upper.

This is a genuine offer, I know and can vouch for the muppet, mug, gentleman in question and confirm that he has a history of purchasing too many tickets for sporting events (he pretty much funded the London Olympics via his Visa card) so if anyone is interested, drop us a line and we will proceed from there.

Now back to wine.

Ok, not quite yet.
Momentum is gathering, knives are being sharpened, teeth are being gnashed as we roll into the last few weeks of voting in the Time & Leisure Food & Drink Awards 2014.

Now, we hope you’ve all voted for us already, or perhaps Waitrose in Worcester Park floated your boat this year but either way your vote is very important so we implore, entreat, beseech and beg that you follow this link and place your X in the box:


We’re not unionised here, so we don’t have any option to strike, which means that our Wine School will be an un-interrupted 6 week course commencing Wednesday 17th September at 8pm.

There has been a typo in some of the fliers we sent out previously so I would like to confirm that it takes place on six consecutive Wednesdays:
17th & 24th September, 1st, 8th, 15th & 22nd October

It’s an enormous amount of educational fun, you will taste a broad spectrum of wines and make some lovely new friends – amongst our graduates we can count the gentleman trying to sell his cricket tickets above and if that’s not a golden recommendation I don’t know what is!?
So sign up today, £150 per person, more than 60 wines over 6 weeks, think of all that new knowledge you’ll have to impress everyone with at Christmas…

Ha, first mention of Christmas – July 11th – must be a record!

Now, back to wine
After all these weeks of late night penalty shoot outs and other joys the World Cup charabanc trundles out of town on Sunday night leaving behind it a trail of broken hearts, unexpected heroes and a new world champion. Being Englishmen of a certain age we are finding it difficult to decide who to back – neither team would be our first choice clearly but we have to back someone.

So this weekend we will be tasting a wine from Germany and a wine from Argentina – the idea being, when we devised this in the pub on Wednesday, that the one we sell out of first is the winner. Great idea at the time ruined by the fact we have 15 more bottles of the Argentina wine than the German which equates to a potentially insurmountable handicap.

So perhaps the one that we sell the most of. Or the one we/you like the most. Or the one with the prettiest label. I don’t know, perhaps it can be a draw.

The contenders are:

Reichsrat Von Buhl Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Pfalz, Germany – £18.49 – a really classy Sauvignon Blanc with classic gooseberry and cut grass character. Racy and tasty on the palate – we likened it more to a posh Sancerre rather than an exotic NZ. Fabulously long finish and a fantastic alternative to the Loire valley.

Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2012, Mendoza, Argentina – £14.99 – 40% Malbec, 40% Bonarda, 15% Tannat, 5% Syrah. Dark and rich with brambly fruits and a touch of mocha. The tannins are soft and velvety which would actually make it a really nice accompaniment to a bit of roast duck.

Considering the quality of these two wines I think it’s going to be Klose but hopefully it won’t get Messi!

I know, I’ll get my coat…

Have a wunderbar fin de semana!

Attitude Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay Cappuccino, Botham Merrill Willis Cabernet Sauvignon

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week I awoke one morning to sounds of outrage. Belgium had beaten the USA in the World Cup and all my Belgian wife could find was praise for the USA. “Surely if the goalie had to make more saves than anyone since 1966 that just proves how good Belgium were, why is everyone talking about the USA?” Unable to provide a suitable answer I suggested the purchase of a Fellaini style wig should they beat Argentina!

Tennis has been fabulous with all sorts of upsets and excitement.

Real Sport… The world’s greatest race is in the UK for three days. Le Grand Depart is Saturday; we have some ups and downs from Leeds through the Yorkshire countryside before Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel sprint into Harrogate to get to the front of the queue for the Turkish Baths and a rub down! Hopefully it’ll be Cav in yellow for the first day!

This week we discovered that a company in Florida has produced two wines with coffee: Cabernet Coffee Espresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino. What we didn’t understand was – WHY?

Cheese & Wine – 24th July 2014 SOLD OUT

Wine School – Starts 17th September for six weeks. Taste 60 wines and put the capital W into Wine Wednesday!

Fame and Fortune
Matthew Jukes has mentioned a couple of our wines lately in his columns…

In Moneyweek 20th June: 2008 Botham Merrill Willis Cabernet Sauvignon (£16.99) I sat next to Geoff Merrill and Bob Willis the other day at a big winey event at Australia House and we drank a few flagons of top Aussie red. I have known Geoff for years – he is a superb winemaker and what one would call a top Aussie bloke. He is a prodigious party animal and it is not surprising that he partnered up with his two best mates and cricketing chums to create a delicious range of wines. Bob is an experienced wine lover and Beefy is an accomplished drinker and my featured wine is their finest current release. Made from a blend of Coonawarra and McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon this is a stunning cassis, eucalyptus and mint leaf-imbued wine. The texture is chocolaty and indulgent. Fire up you (sic) barbie, knock the top off this delicious red and raise a toast to these heroic lads.”
In The Daily Mail 7th June: 2012 Gran Passione, Veneto Rosso, Italy (£12.99) I tasted this superb Merlot / Corvina blend earlier this year and I have been itching to tell you about it. Like a super-smooth Valpolicella with impeccable flair and breeding you must track this red down because it is downright delicious!”

We witter on about this wine and that wine having personality, but this week we’ve only gone and bought one with attitude!

A Sauvignon Blanc made by Pascal Jolivet, one of the acknowledged masters of Sancerre, called Attitude Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (£12.49). Crisp and dry with lovely Sauvignon Blanc character and a seam of minerality through the mid-palate like a top shelf Sancerre. Don’t take my word for it though, why not have a taster yourself? Open from 5pm on Friday…

And since Gran Passione got such a good write up why don’t we give that a gargle.

Have a nice weekend one and all,

Allez! Allez!