Archive for February, 2015

Not sure whether we had a market for £5,000 a bottle Bordeaux, we decided to cancel our order of Pomerol and instead order some new beer

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’ll start today’s lesson with a parental maths puzzler:

Tommy and Alice have two children, Neil and Josie. Sunday 1st March is Josie’s Birthday. In the morning Josie plays netball, escorted by Alice, until 11am. At the same time Neil and his father will be at rugby training until 12pm. Josie has arranged to meet 8 friends at the famous farm-shop and bistro café, McDonald’s, at noon, prior to going to the cinema at 12.40pm as part of her birthday celebration. How can Tommy and Neil be at rugby until 12 whilst supposedly simultaneously enjoying quality beef patties and retailored chicken bits on the other side of town?

This question is worth one mark. For further credit, you may continue with the following:

Josie, her friends and her family will emerge blinking into the sunshine post-cinema sometime around 3pm. At 3pm England play rugby against Ireland in Dublin whilst here in London at 4pm, Chelsea play Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley. Tommy and Neil are keen rugby fans (see morning activity) and Tommy, despite living in a Chelsea encampment, is a Lilywhite rather than a blue and would thus be interested in seeing both games. England will already have lost the cricket to Sri Lanka in the morning, so this is not a variable in the calculation. At all times Tommy and Neil must remember it is Josie’s birthday and thus she is in charge and they must at least pretend to be enjoying themsleves. How can everybody be kept happy in this scenario?

This question is worth limitless marks.

Using the information provided, please come up with a working solution. Whilst it may seem an impossibility to keep everyone happy, full credit will be given for well worded attempts, supported by relevant, full workings, Venn diagrams if possible. Bonus credits available for those who also manage to factor into their calculations that Rupert, the family pet, will definitely need to be taken for a long walk at some point during the day.

So whilst you’re all puzzling on that, what else can we report?

    Because they can

Football seems to have plumbed new depths with FIFA running roughshod over most everybody and plonking the 2022 World Cup Final on the 23rd December – what chance anyone getting home for Christmas on a budget? Their dated attitude of ‘we can do whatever we want and you’ll just have to fall into line because we are FIFA’ has to be discredited sometime very soon, one hopes.

    Because he can

In the early 80’s, Robert Parker, through his Wine Advocate musings on the wines of the 1982 Bordeaux Vintage, gave Le Pin, a relative newcomer (first vintage 1979), a 100/100 score. Perfect, in his eyes. At the time he was just a man with a keenly developed interest in wine who would score various wines within a hundred point scale. However time has passed and his reputation, influence and indeed power – 90+ Parker Points now being a much used sales tool by fine wine merchants – have all blossomed from his opinions and musings on that 1982 Bordeaux vintage. Well done, Bob.

Yesterday, he announced that he won’t be attending the Bordeaux en-primeur bunfight this year and has handed over the reins to Neal Martin, whom many consider to be his natural heir. For more than 30 years Parker has been doing the en-primeur, so this is maybe another sign that he is handing over more and more of his domain to the team or is it perhaps a sign that he knows what a sham the whole thing is? It is murmured that some producers in the past have waited for him to announce his points before stating their release price, a good score supposedly justifying a huge price hike, which has resulted in the unsustainably high prices we now see for some very ordinary Bordeaux reds from some very ordinary vintages (2007 anyone?).

So we reckon his stepping away from the limelight can only be a good thing for everyone, well done Sir!

Oh, and whatever happened to the 1982 Le Pin? En primeur, the release price was $400 for a case of twelve bottles. If we consult the January 2015 edition of Decanter Fine Wine Price Watch, which shows the latest prices top wines have reached at auction, we can see that the same case of wine has sold for £57,577. Or approximately $88,690. Gadzooks!

    Because we can

Feet firmly back on the ground now, everyone. Not sure whether we had a market for £5,000 a bottle Bordeaux, we decided to cancel our order of Pomerol and instead order some new beer. Breaking with our unofficial tradition of buying local we have gone global, or European at least. We had been selling Krombacher Pils for a few years now but our supply dried up. As a result we had to find a new German lager beer and so, remembering how much we enjoy it in the pub, we bought Paulaner Munchen Hell £2.49 in 500ml bottles. We also finally managed to get our hands on a Gueuze from Belgium – Lindemans Gueuze £3.29. Like all things Belgian(!) this is absolutely delightful, I’m not going to go into its complicated production process here but suffice to say it has a tangy sourness that is extremely refreshing and moreish – go on treat yourself!

    Because you can

We still have a few places left on our Cheese & Wine evening – Thursday 12th March at 8pm. Tickets are £20 per person and if you’ve not been before you should, because you can. These evenings are enormous fun – fine wine, four fine cheeses, plenty of chat and a splash of education in there too, all on your doorstep.

To book a seat at the table either reply to this email, phone us on 020 8944 5224 or tell us in person when you’re in to stock up on Gueuze!

    Because we all can

Wines will be open for tasting this weekend, as is our wont. We have the just moved onto the 2013 vintage of Reichsrat Von Buhl Riesling Trocken – £13.99 always a stunning wine with apple and citrus notes, a streak of minerality and a magical finish. Very much looking forward to it.

For the red, Vista 2013 – £8.29 tickles our fancy. Weirdly, we haven’t shown this for a couple of years but it has been the backbone of our Portuguese range forever. A blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon this is what is commonly known as a ‘cracking’ drop. Ripe brambly fruits with hints of spice on the finish – very much suited to the weather we’re having at the moment.

That’s just about it from us – anyone managed to solve the maths problem? No, us neither. However, I’m sure we’ll know the answer by Monday….

Cluedo, Greece and Putin’s passion for Pasties

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’ve looked at the calendar and found no Six Nations games, no Premiership matches, and with Lewis Hamilton skipping out of season testing due to illness, what on earth will we talk about this week? Cricket? The ¼ of me that is Kiwi is too embarrassed for the ¾ that is English!

Chinese New Year was considered, but we felt two days late is bordering on rudeness rather than fashionably late. We also considered Eastenders, but with their “Who killed Lucy?” storyline having more suspects than a Cluedo convention, we thought it best left alone.

We had a look at international news and discovered that Putin was still being problematic with some of the air force popping up over Cornwall. Perhaps he has a passion for pasties, someone should invite him to the annual taste off. Make him wear a shirt though!

Germany’s Finance Ministry spokesman, Martin Jaeger, bombed Greek hopes of a short term solution to this act of the tragedy. Looks like it could extend its run further, with what started off as a one act play gaining several more acts in the re-writes already. On the plus side, we tasted some delicious Greek wines earlier this week, so watch this space for further details.

We struck gold with news that, not only may drinking red wine help your memory, but a joint study by the Universities of Florida and Nebraska suggests it may also help your body burn fat better. As usual we’d err on the cautious side, if only because so far the studies have been on mice. Wayne said he might volunteer if they’re taking it further though!

I think we mentioned last year when Niagara Falls froze that it was an extremely rare occurrence but that the pictures were stunning. Well, perhaps a bit alarmingly, it has happened again and the photographs are no less beautiful.

    Cheese and Wine Tasting

Thursday 12th March will see us pulling the table out, cutting some delicious cheese from our chums at Norbiton Fine Cheese and matching some wines with said cheese. Coming to join the fun? We’ll start as usual at 8pm and £20 buys your place at the table. Give us a call on 020 8944 5224 if you’re up for it.

    Tasting This Weekend

We’re going to kick off in the red corner with a wine that arrived just this week. We tasted it ages ago, but only just got round to ordering some. Quieto Malbec 2011 (£14.99) is a proper bobby dazzler with juicy damson and blueberry fruit and a touch of tobacco and liquorice spice to the finish. In the white corner we’ll pull a cork on Domaine Jacques Dury’s Rully La Chaume 2012 (£16.99), a delightful drop that hails from the slopes of the Côte Chalonnaise in Burgundy.

That’s us, have a great weekend and stop by for a taster!

Wayne and Alex

Shades of fading grey

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Bit of a busy old weekend this one.


Tomorrow marks the unofficial start of the drinking season, as all those hardy souls who gave up booze on the 1st January finally fall off the wagon as they tuck into a bottle of Rose Champagne with their loved one.


It’s half term too, so the annual pilgrimage to Gatwick and Heathrow starts to get into full swing and airlines make record profits transporting winter sports equipment to the wrong resorts.


England keep their Six Nations Grand Slam hopes on track but need six penalties to beat an impressive Italy 18-11 at TwickenhamBBC Website 10th March 2013

Based on the fact that England somehow managed to emerge victorious last Friday night, purely as a result of our encouraging email, we thought we would try the same strategy this week when faced with Azzurri this weekend at Twickenham. La Repubblica quotes winger Giovanbattista Venditti as saying:

‘Noi non staremo a guardare, abbiamo le capacità per essere pericolosi in attacco palla in mano ed io e Leonardo (Sarto) abbiamo voglia di dimostrare di cosa possiamo essere capaci palla in mano.’

Which is, as we all can tell, is definitely fighting talk.

If we then also look at our prediction from 31st December 2014 we stated:

Also on the 14th Italy beat England for the first time ever, at HQ and dreams of a World Cup lie flaccid in the Twickenham mud. (Italy will go on to beat New Zealand in the quarter finals before losing to eventual winners Argentina in the semis)
So come on England, make a lie of all these predictions, keep your heads held high and please score a try!

    Home and Away

England also start their World Cup Cricket campaign tomorrow morning, down under, against the hosts. What could possibly go wrong?

    Fade to Grey/50 Shades of Grey

Sadly, Steve Strange dies in a hospital in Sharm on the same day that soft-porn hits the mainstream. As a side note, according to the Beeb, ‘London Fire Brigade said it was “concerned” the 13 February release could lead to a “spike” in people being stuck or trapped in handcuffs or rings.’
Valentine’s day could be one to remember.


So, to welcome all the abstainers back and to cheer up all of you who haven’t gone skiing or perhaps didn’t receive a Valentine’s Card, we will have some wine open tonight and tomorrow here in the shop for your delectation.

Perhaps not the most sensitive choices for those who haven’t struck lucky in love we have chosen Manawa Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – £12.99 and Passion has Red Lips Shiraz Cabernet 2013 – £15.29

Manawa Sauvignon Blanc is your classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and zesty with grapefruit citrus notes, tropical fruit characters and just a touch of minerality. Also, Manawa is the Maori word for heart and it has a heart on the label, so it was the romantic in us that chose this!

Passion has Red Lips is made by renegade wine folk Some Young Punks in McLaren Vale, Australia. We chose this because it has a great name, fabulous label, is a delicious Shiraz/Cabernet blend and we sold masses of this on Valentine’s day last year! A truly lip-smacking (!) wine with red cherry, blackberry, vanilla and violets on the nose and cranberry and red cherry on the palate alongside some savoury tapenade notes. Enjoy whilst reading the original Pulp Fiction novel “Sin on Wheels” or something quality by EL James….

One man on a lonely platform/One case sitting by his side/Two eyes staring cold and silent/Shows fear as he turns to hide
Ah, we fade to grey, fade to grey

Fizz February

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,
Sensational Wales seize moment to take place in folklore with stunning England win – The Mail on Sunday
Wales bask in Six Nations title after slamming England in Cardiff rout – The Observer
History should remember the Welsh brilliance not England’s defeat. This was an annihilation of England’s claim to be potential 2015 Rugby World Cup favourites – The Telegraph
Let’s not let this happen again.
Mike Brown, Ben Youngs, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, Chris Robshaw – you are the only survivors from that test two years ago, so tell your teammates about that awful journey home through Cardiff and down the M4 with your tails tucked far between your legs, tell them about the humiliation of opening the Sunday newspapers and reading the headlines above, tell them how long it took to wash away the taste of daffodils and leeks. Make the headlines on Saturday all about the quality of the English victory and not about the politics of having the roof open or closed.
And now I sit back down, vented, and return the podium to matters of wine.
Fizz February
Face it, January is rubbish. It’s like the a month full of Tuesdays – the fun and frolics of Christmas are distant memories and the metaphorical weekend is still 3 days away – all you have left is work and an evening spent in the gym.
February is fantastic though. It’s short, to the point and starts with F, which makes it alliterate beautifully with fizz, and Friday. So if January is Tuesday, then February is Friday.
In order to slake your new found thirst for fizz we have all the old favourites in the fridge, Cava, Prosecco, a couple of traditional methods from New Zealand and a sparkling Shiraz. Next week, Wednesday hopefully, we will receive our first shipment of our new English Sparkler – Hoffmann & Rathbone – that we tasted, to much delight, in January. We’ve listed all their wines because they were all darned good so we will have:
Hoffmann & Rathbone Classic Cuvée 2010 – £36
Hoffmann & Rathbone Rosé Réserve 2010 – £38
Hoffmann & Rathbone Blanc de Blancs 2010 – £40
In the Champagne department we have all our Moutards (Brut, Rose, Six Cépages, Half Bottle, Magnum, Jeroboam), we welcome the return (if in slightly limited numbers) of Beaumet 2004 and we continue on with Bollinger NV and Vintage. Here too, we have a new edition to the ranks
Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut NV £50
Now here’s a story. The three branches of the Rothschild family, you know, the characters who own Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Lafite, were having a chinwag over a pie and a pint a few years back and decided that their domination of the ‘World of Fine Wine’ was never going to be complete without a Champagne in the portfolio. Being fairly well connected, they contacted some chums in Champagne and got to work. The result of this work is a collection of very fine champagnes all bearing the distinctive five arrow Rothschild emblem.
How do we fit in? Well one of the chaps we know dropped by last week and excitedly told us that he had scooped distribution rights in the UK and did we want to try some. It being Friday, which alliterates nicely with Fizz as discussed, we said Yes, please. So he left us a bottle.
To say we were sceptical of the gimmick nature of such a product would be an unfair. Anyone who knows us well knows that
a) we eschew scepticism, and certainly are never cynical,
b) we are not suspicious of strangers bearing gifts, not at all
c) we were born yesterday
So we opened it up and, in our hearts, neither of us wanted to like it. We were sure it was going to be overhyped and filed in the same cabinet as Moet & Chandon Ice.
But it wasn’t. We looked at each other and the silence was broken by one of our more erudite tasting notes: Bugger, that’s really rather good!
So we’ve got it in the fridge. It has a deliciously smooth mouthfeel. However the key to its pleasure is the time it has spent aging on its lees and the character this aging has imparted – bready autolysis is the wine wonk term but in simple English there is a moreish, creamy, richness. And it’s elegant, as if anything produced by this family could be anything but. Bonnes bubbles.
So if you’d like a bottle, we can sell it to you. We passed the vetting process – apparently there is one, a well-known Gentleman’s Club, of the semi-clad ladies variety, was refused supply – and are now up and running.
How very convenient, with Valentine’s Day just a few steps away….
Early Close/Late Open
As mentioned earlier in the week, we will be shutting at 6.30pm today as we have an offsite tasting called ‘Teaching the Teachers’ – no prizes for guessing where that’s taking place.
Just as a reminder, the other dates were:
Monday 9th February – we will close early today as we are attending two different events so the doors will close at 5.30pm.
Thursday 12th February – we are away at a trade tasting so we will open later today but we will be here by 4pm.

Tuesday 17th February – we are away at a trade tasting so we will open later today but we will be here by 4pm.
Tasting this weekend
We will be here all day Saturday of course, and to make you all happy, we will have some wines open: as a white we will open Barton Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2013 – £11.59. From Walker Bay in South Africa – a region with exciting potential: it has varying altitudes and ideal soils that help produce some world class, elegant wines. A little bit of weight and texture is achieved adding some Semillon to the Sauvignon – you still have tropical fruit, grass and capsicum but also a nice lemon edge too which goes well with many a light midweek supper.
Sticking with South Africa for the red we will open a wine that we just re-listed: Hughes Family Nativo Red Blend 2008 – £17.49. Bill & Penny Hughes have 27 ha planted in Malmesbury with views over the Kasteelberg Mountains. Bill does all the work in vineyard and winery, Penny does the sales and marketing. Over to Wine Detective Sarah Ahmed: “A slightly different composition in 2008, with 48% Shiraz, 16% Merlot, 13% Grenache, 11% Mourvèdre, 9% Pinotage and 3% Viognier has a deep seam of sweet but earthy raspberry fruit, really fleshy with gamey notes without losing freshness.” (25/11/12)
That’s all from us this week and we just hope that George Ford doesn’t pack two left boots for his kicking duties this evening!!

NOT The Weekly Wine!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Hello chaps,

Some dates that we ought to have put into the email last Friday but simply forgot because we are simple and forgetful. In order to keep our fingers on the pulse and check that we have on the shelves what we want to have on them, sometimes we have to go on the hunt for new wines with personality. As a result, due to a few offsite events over the next few weeks there will be some slightly different opening hours on certain days, to wit the following:

Wednesday 4th February – we are away at a trade tasting so we will open later today but we will be here by 4pm.

Friday 6th February – we will close early today as we are running a private tasting so the doors will close at 6.30pm.

Monday 9th February – we will close early today as we are attending two different events so the doors will close at 5.30pm.

Thursday 12th February – we are away at a trade tasting so we will open later today but we will be here by 4pm.

Tuesday 17th February – we are away at a trade tasting so we will open later today but we will be here by 4pm.

It’s not so much a case of putting the dates in your diaries more a case of forewarning you and hopefully avoiding too much upset. We promise to buy some new wines….

Apologies for any potential inconvenience and hopefully see you when we are open!