Archive for September, 2014

First we had champagne that tasted like cider and now we have coffee that tastes like Guinness.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Awesome, another reason to love Starbucks and the joy it brings to the world. Not content with selling pretend coffee, pursuing retrospective planning permission and electing not to pay tax, they are now apparently going after Guinness.

Dark Barrel Latte is a drink that tastes like a dark beer but contains no alcohol. Why?

You start with an espresso and add some steamed milk. Then you add caramel and a stout flavoured sauce that apparently tastes like roasted malt. Why not stop at the steamed milk bit I’d suggest – we all like a ristretto.

But no, inspired by the rise in popularity of craft beers, there was a bandwagon to be jumped upon.

It’s being trialled in Ohio and Florida and let’s hope nowhere else.

First we had champagne that tasted like cider and now we have coffee that tastes like Guinness. What next, wine that tastes of peaches – oh hang about, they’ve already done that.

Oh, brother.

Wine and Cheese Evening

We choose four cheeses from our chums at Norbiton cheese, match half a dozen wines with them, have a group of you round the table and discuss the merits of our choices. If this sounds like fun why not join us Thursday 16th October at 8pm. £20 per person.

Wines of Chile

Our focus on Chilean delights draws to a close this weekend. The development and change we have witnessed in Chile over the past few years has been truly exciting for us and we hope we’ve been able to share that excitement with you. So pop in have a glance over the map, and a taste of…

Adobe Reserva Gewurztraminer 2013, Rapel Valley (£9.49) – Once upon a time Alex mentioned that we’d been kissing the wrong frogs on the fragrant variety front in Chile and found ourselves somewhat underwhelmed. Being tenacious chaps we didn’t give up though, and one day this appeared in our glass. Floral aromas with a splash of lychee perhaps, lead into a soft fruity palate with a touch of spice and a nice clean finish. For a fairy-tale food match I’d suggest smoked haddock with some mustard mash!

Perez Cruz Cot 2012, Maipo Valley (£17.99) – Perez Cruz is a family run estate in Maipo Andes, the foothills of the Andes between 1450-1700 feet elevation. “Cot” is the old French name for Malbec once integral to pre-phylloxera Bordeaux, and firmly rooted in Cahors. While the variety has found a happy home in Argentina, this example shows real vibrancy with power and elegance, cassis and raspberry aromas which are joined on the palate with a touch of spice and savoury finish.

And Finally…

The (Glen) eagle-eyed amongst you may notice the absence of a certain bearded wine merchant this weekend. It’s not because he played a blinder in the Ryder Cup qualifiers, or even that he is sitting in the stand watching with the ticket he bought just in case he didn’t qualify. Alex is helping to celebrate a wedding in deepest darkest Kent so you’ll have to put up with me this weekend.

Pop in taste something Chilean, we’ll raise a glass to the happy couple and not mention the golf!

‘All you need is a 10-minute nap and voila, a slurp of rose wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy’

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It was probably the most important vote in many peoples lifetime and one that would affect the future of many people in Scotland whilst also have lasting repercussions throughout the world be it Northern Ireland, Wales and beyond.

I personally believed the only possible vote had to be in the affirmative and to hell with the dissenters.

According to one of the executives yesterday, participation was very strong, with over 75% voting and, he added, he had high hopes that a “yes” vote would be confirmed on Thursday night. We can assume he then smiled and continued with his business.

And the net result of the yes vote – well it certainly puts pressure on Muirfield and Royal St George’s… what, ah yes, you see I’m talking about The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews landslide vote in favour of abolishing its men-only policy and allowing lady members…

Have I missed something?

If I have, it can only be because for the first few days of this week we’ve been attempting to emulate the mighty Gerard Depardieu. Now, if you didn’t read the interview as reported in the Daily Mirror at the end of last week then shame on you for letting your subscription lapse but here are the juicy titbits.

“But if ever I start drinking I can’t drink like a normal person. I can absorb 12, 13, 14 bottles per day.

Discussing his operation, he explained: “I was asked to tell the doctor about my consumption. So I said, ‘here it goes’:

It starts at home with champagne or red wine, before 10am. Then again champagne. Then pastis, maybe half a bottle. Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, champagne, beer, and more pastis at around 5pm, to finish off the bottle. Later on vodka and/or whisky.

But I’m never totally drunk, just a little p****d. All you need is a 10-minute nap and voila, a slurp of rose wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy.”

Clearly he’s taking the p*ss but you’ve got to love his bravura!

Back in the real world

Chile is still dominating the focus in the shop, and sales are booming.

This weekend we are going to taste the Viña Ventolera Litoral Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – £12.99 from the coastal part of the San Antonio valley. San Antonio is located 100 km (62 mi) west of Santiago, very close to the sea, south of Casablanca. Vineyards taunt the cold Pacific climate as they creep ever closer to its coast in this relatively new wine region. Vines bedeck the rolling hillsides as close as 2.5 miles (4 km) from the sea and test the mettle of strong-willed growers and pioneering winemakers. The work pays off with crisp, lean, mineral-fresh whites with great acidity and minerality and spicy reds that increasingly turn heads.

San Antonio is divided into four sectors: Leyda, Lo Abarca, Rosario, and Malvilla. It has a cool climate strongly influenced by the ocean which encourages slow-ripening and it endures around 350 mm (13.8 in) of rain per year. The soils are primarily granite and clay.

On the red side we will keep with the coastal theme and open the Tabalí Coastal Limestone Vineyard Talinay Pinot Noir 2012 – £17.99.

This comes from Limarí, located 470 km (290 mi) north of Santiago. Vines were first planted in the mid-16th century but new technology has led terroir-hunting winemakers to take a fresh look at this curious territory. The Pacific Ocean’s cooling Camanchaca fog creeps into the valley from the west each morning and retreats as the sun rises over the Andes and bathes the vines in pure light in the afternoon. With less than 4 inches of rainfall per year, drip irrigation allows the vines to flourish as their roots dig deep into the mineral-rich soil. The combination creates fresh wines with a distinct mineral edge.


Our last wine school of the year kicked off, in true Depardieu-style, on Wednesday night but have no fear we are setting some dates for other tastings over the next few months. We will have a full calendar soon, hopefully by this time next week but in the meantime one tasting we can confirm is:

Domaine Treloar – Wednesday 26th November at 8pm – Jonathan Hesford will be over and we will taste through his range of delicious wines from the sunny south of France, hopefully with some snacks relevant to the Languedoc, or failing that, Biltong!

£20 per person, spaces as ever limited, first come first served, email us or phone us on 020 8944 5224!

So pop and see me tonight and tomorrow, taste some wine and let’s discuss what might have happened if the whole UK had got the chance to vote….!

A short selection of items that Scotland brought to the world that we might need to re-pack and say farewell to next Friday.

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This time next week it will all be over. The dust will have settled, Alex Salmond will have made his victory speeches, the sound of financial institutions scuttling towards the borders will be deafening and Scotland will have taken its first tentative steps on the road to independence – a road that 49% didn’t want to go down.

Anyway stuff the politics for now, let’s look at the settlement. As with all divorces, this is the moment when shared belongings get split up and returned to their original owners, regardless of whether they want them or not. Having undertaken some particularly thorough research over the last six minutes, we’ve come up with a short selection of items that Scotland brought to the world that we might need to re-pack and say farewell to next Friday.

The television, the fridge, the toaster, the electric clock, Roses Lime Cordial, Bovril, and dare I mention it, the flush toilet. Oh, and if you have a piano, the foot pedal also needs to go!

Not such bad news here, as many of the sports they have had a hand in are, let’s say, a tad niche in England.

Aussie Rules was apparently heavily influenced by Scottish settlers in Melbourne; shot put and hammer throw come from the Highland Games, and who can forget shinty and curling?!

Perhaps more significantly, we have to give back golf and cycling. For that matter the pneumatic tyre needs to go too but as we’ll have already returned tarmac we’ll be back on horses anyway!

Oh, and rather bizarrely they want the football dugout back in Aberdeen!

According to Wiki, the Bank of England was devised by William Paterson and the Bank of France by John Law; however I think we’ll be getting plenty of banks back.

Whisky & Haggis & Irn Bru
Bugger, we can’t let these go – who do we talk to, ACAS, UNESCO?

In the meantime, we still have a week left as the Great Britain we have been for the last 300 years, so let’s just carry on as usual.

This, for me, means I’m talking about Chile.

As mentioned last week, we’re ‘doing’ Chile in September in return for plenty of POS support from Wines of Chile. Pretty much all of this is now in our window and it would be hard to deny that Chile is strongly featured. This week though, I wanted to tie the tasting wines in with another topic that often gets brought up – Organic Wine.

Customers regularly ask if we sell organic wines, to which we reply, ‘Yes. Yes, we do.’

Such enthusiasm can often render people speechless so, to help their recovery and avoid awkward silences, we move up a gear and discuss the differences between organic wines, biodynamic wines and natural wines.

What we try to make clear in this discussion is that we fully support the ideals of organic (not using artificial fertilisers, pesticides in the vineyard etc), biodynamic (similar to organic but using special biodynamic preparations at particular times linked to the lunar calendar, often involving cow horns and hairy big toes) and natural (again, like organic but continuing the non-intervention, no artificial additive strategy in the winemaking as well as the grape growing, definitely involving hairy big toes, usually six on each foot) but we don’t make such practices the sole reason for us buying the wines we put on the shelf.

We buy our wines because they taste good and they are at the right sort of price for how good they taste. If they’re biodynamic too, fabulous, but it’s not a deal breaker.

This all leads me to the wines on show this weekend. Both are wines that we tasted, thought delicious and bought. It was only when they arrived and we looked more closely at the packaging that we found out they were both organic:

Emiliana Reserva Riesling 2012, Bío Bío Valley – £8.99 – previously the Alsace varieties we have tasted from Chile have been deeply disappointing and not worth anyone’s money. I think this was definitely a case of us kissing the wrong frogs – this is a lovely crisp, dry Riesling with lively lime, citrus character and a hint of apple on the palate. Spot on as an aperitif and an all-rounder when it comes to food matching – Wayne recommends Ceviche, I think he spends too many evenings at fancy restaurants!

Novas Gran Reserva Garnacha Syrah 2012, Cachapoal Valley – £11.99 – the classic southern Rhone blend with a twist of south American power and one to consider as the nights draw longer and the game season properly gets under way.

That’s it from us except for one note of admin:

Tomorrow, Saturday 13th September, we will be opening at the slightly later time of 11am due to a morning delivery to Croydon! Sorry for the inconvenience.

So do pop in and try some wine over the weekend and don’t forget to ask us about Organic wine – in the meantime, altogether now:

Ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye…. (fade to black)

‘Gossip’, Wines of Chile & Muscat del Itata,

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Glass of Pinot Grigio, Wayne? Don’t mind if I do….

And so we signed off last week’s email.

Friday and Saturday saw many of your tasting the wines on show and numerous positive comments were made regarding our first ever Pinot Grigio tasting – the general consensus being it was pretty darn good. Imagine our amazement when this email arrived on Monday morning:

Dear All,

As customers of Di Lenardo’s Pinot Grigio, we are sure you will be pleased to hear the recent success of this talented producer at the first Pinot Grigio International Challenge with his Pinot Grigio Ramato Gossip (see below article). These are much-deserved awards for a fantastic wine and the fact Gossip has received not one, but three awards, should generate interest amongst your Pinot Grigio fans, Ramato or otherwise.

Huge Success for Di Lenardo’s Ramato Gossip
Best Pinot Grigio Ramato of the World, Best Pinot Grigio of Friuli and Second Best Pinot Grigio of the World… The awards seemed endless for Massimo di Lenardo at the first ever Pinot Grigio International Challenge in Corno di Rosazzo near Udine, Friuli, this June.

The competing wines came from over Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Alto Adige, Trentino, Sicilia), France, Austria, South Africa, Australia and the USA. Renamed ‘Winebledon’, the judging took place much like a series of tennis matches; the wines directly battling it out in pairs, and following a tournament structure. The Challenge also held conferences over the commercial challenges presented to Pinot Grigio on the current world market, the reasons for its immense popularity and the ways in which its image may be improved.

Di Lenardo’s ‘Gossip’ is made from Pinot Grigio grapes which have spent 18 hours fermenting in contact with their skins; enough time to achieve a beautiful, coppery hue otherwise known as ‘Ramato’. The wine then stays on the lees until bottling. This delicious wine’s luscious aromas include both fresh red fruits and aromatic dried fruits with delightful additional notes of wild flower meadows, hay and almonds.

Di Lenardo has achieved a delicate balance of robust fruit and crisp acidity, characterising the complex palate with flavours that mirror the wine’s bouquet.

So to everyone that thought the wine was delicious give yourselves a pat on the back, you were right!!


Not a great deal to report – Andy Murray loses to an extremely capable young man named Novak, England grind out a tedious win in a friendly football match and our boys in flannels watch a masterclass in One Day cricket that should only surely result in a serious change of personnel.
Phone/photo hacking sweeps the USA as the Cloud seems to be pretty much the least safe place to store confidential files but also shows an interesting celebrity idiosyncrasy – I’m beautiful therefore I must take some photos of my beautiful naked body over and over again – the argument for Polaroid’s has never been stronger!


If it’s September, it must be Chile.

Over the last few years we have made September a chance to focus on the wines from this long, slim South American country partly linked to the fact that Chilean Independence day is on the 18th and the Wines of Chile chaps always send us some nice maps and goodies!

So the focus of this month’s tastings will be Chilean wine plus our Case Club this month is also a Chilefest, replete with a couple of Wayne’s favourite recipes!

For those of you wondering what this ‘Case Club’ thing is, allow me to elaborate. Each month we select 6 wines, 3 white and 3 red normally, write up tasting notes and charge £50 for the box of six – a discount of anywhere between 13-20% off the shelf price. We offer to deliver this case locally to you or you can pick it up from the shop – it’s a wine club like many other wine clubs the difference being you know who we are, where we live etc etc.

Should you be interested in joining in the fun just let us know and we’ll add you to the list. At the beginning of each month we send you the tasting notes, you then say ‘yes, please’ or occasionally ‘no, thank you’, we then deliver and you pay us. Pretty simple, much like us!
Here are the notes for this month’s case, to give you an idea of what we do:

Oyster Shack Chardonnay 2013, Central Valley – £7.29 This Central Valley Chardonnay is unoaked with lively ripe red apple and tropical fruit flavours with a touch of leesy complexity. Nice and crisp in the finish, we’re looking at some early season pumpkin risotto, or if you’re looking for something authentic how about Ave Palta, a chicken and avocado sandwich.

Aromo Viognier 2012, Maule Valley – £8.49 Maule is one of Chile’s traditional wine growing areas, just about 250km south of Santiago. There’s not a great deal of Viognier planted there but when you taste this you’ll wonder why. Lovely and fresh with stone fruit character nicely balanced into a good finish. Tasty with a creamy prawn pasta dish, but how about Ostiones a la Parmesana, clams in butter and parmesan.

Gallardia del Itata Muscat 2012, Itata Valley – £12.99 Itata is about as far south as winemaking gets in Chile and is where some of the earliest vineyards were planted. This Muscat is, quite frankly, delicious. We listed it following this tasting note: “almost a Viognier nose, nowhere near as floral as you might expect from Muscat – very south Chile region, nice texture and more floral Muscat on the initial palate then we move into more wine character – minerals, herbs and a sniff of spice. Delicious, dry and lasts forever. Yes.” Nuff said.

Casa Azul Pinot Noir 2012, Casablanca Valley – £9.99 Hooray is all I can say! The one thing we know about Pinot Noir is that it is often either very expensive or not very Pinot Noiry, which can sometimes lead to disappointment. Here in Casablanca though the cooler coastal climate really works for the grape. We think this chap is bang on the button – lovely red fruits, light tannins, no bitter finish. It will go with everything from grilled tuna, crisps or how about Costilla de Chancho, a rack of ribs roasted or barbecued.

De Martino Legado Carménère 2 012, Maipo Valley – £12.49 100% Carménère. They were the first carbon neutral winery in South America and the first winery to export Carménère, so why did we choose this wine? Because it tasted good, that’s why! Black fruits and freshly spiced raspberry (spiced raspberry?); velvety, well-rounded and fresh in the finish, maybe a hit of espresso in there. On the sustenance front we’re going for Baste a la Pore, a dish of steak, onions chips and with a fried egg on top.

Carmen Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Colchagua – £10.69 We figured it’d be rude to wander around Chile without popping a Cabernet Sauvignon in to your glass. We read somewhere that all the antioxidants in Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon are especially good for you. We’re not qualified to comment on that front, but we would mention the dark black fruits overlaid with hints of cassis, eucalyptus and allspice. Rich and velvety smooth on the palate with excellent weight into the finish. We’re suggesting Pastel de Choclo with this one which is similar to Shepherd’s Pie, which would also work.

All this, for £50, marvellous.

As predicted we’ll be putting Chile in your glass too. I think we’ll dip into the selection above to start with and try the Muscat from Itata and whilst we’re towards the south, how about the Cabernet Sauvignon too?

Lot’s about wine this week, one of the most focused emails we’ve written for a long time!


Wayne & Alex