Archive for March, 2015

Wine School, Wine and Cheese Tasting, Chocolate Block and Greece

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Here at Park Vintners Towers we occasionally find ourselves looking at the world in amazement, wondering if we’re a little odd. This week would be a good case in point with two stories catching our attention.

The first one, which we would perhaps consider a cautionary tale, revolves around the concept of knowing one’s place, and we’re not sure that many of the protagonists in this episode actually did.

Let me explain… there’s a big company who are a bit involved in the business of news and entertainment and they discover that there has been a bit of a ‘fracas’ involving “The Talent” and a member of “The Crew” whilst filming one of the more successful shows. Torn between the reporting instinct to tell the story on the one hand, and duty to staff on the other an enquiry is launched whilst all other news outlets run amok, unable to hide the fun they’re having.

In truth, we find ourselves amazed that “Man punches colleague, gets sacked” has managed to make so many front pages and garner so many column inches, let alone get a million signatures on a petition!

The second story, and this has kept a puzzled expression on Wayne’s face all week, is Richard III.
A skeleton is dug up in a car park in Leicester, confirmed as Richard III (dental records we’re guessing, certainly no passport or fingerprints). It is then kept in a laboratory for 2 years whilst plans are made.

Whilst he’s in the lab, the 500 year old story that he was a hunchback is refuted, but it turns out that he didn’t have feet (still missing, presumed stolen by Victorians).

This week the plans are unveiled and 20,000 people see the box of bones (some queued for two hours), the bones then go on a road trip to the site of a Battle of Bosworth, where it’s presumed he died. He is then (still without feet) reburied at Leicester Cathedral just a short distance from where he was dug up!

At the ceremony even Sherlock Holmes turned up, we can’t help but wonder if he was there at the behest of distant relatives of the Princes in the Tower.

We just can’t help wondering if the entire story was dreamt up by someone who works at Leicester Tourist office, after all the car park now has a Visitors Centre!

In wine news this week scientists have published a study that suggests the secret to terroir may actually lie in the bacteria around the roots rather than the soil itself. We shall watch this space for further revelations!

Easter Opening Hours

Good Friday 3rd April – 11am – 3pm
Saturday 4th April – 10am – 6pm
Easter Sunday 5th April – Closed
Monday 6th April – Closed
Tuesday 7th April – Normal Hours

Wine School
The new term start on 15th April and runs for six consecutive Wednesdays. We’ll kick off at 8pm and you’ll taste in the region of 60 different wines. £150 per person and full details attached.

Talking of revelations we had a great tasting this week “Off the beaten track” we discussed with a group of customers the merits of Malagousia, the kick of the Kekfrankos and the tingle of the Txakoli. Fun was had by all and the consensus was that there is definitely life beyond Sauvignon or Shiraz.

Cheese and Wine Tasting
The next event in our ever-popular Cheese and Wine tasting series is on 16th April at 8pm. That’s a Thursday night packed with cheesey deliciousness, washed down partnered with some well-chosen wines from our shelves. £20 per person, pop in and book your place.

Something for the weekend?
With the revelation that there is life beyond Sauvignon we’ll grace our white corner with a bottle of Thiasos 2013 (£9.49). A super white wine from the Peloponnese that’s a blend Roditis and Moschofilero, full of sunshine and loveliness.

Whilst we’re toasting the end of winter and saying ‘Au revoir’ to an hour’s sleep we will do so with a glass of The Chocolate Block 2013 (£23.99) in our hands. It’s a tasty blend of rather better known varieties Syrah, Cabernet sauvignon, Grenache, Cinsault and Viognier.

So come along and join us, and get your laughing gear around these two.

And finally…
We’ve not managed to confirm or deny that UKIP have recruited a new candidate for Chipping Norton!

Clocks forward Saturday night folks!

Rugby, Wine & Cheese Tasting and Wine School

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Flushed with the success of our campaign at Cheltenham, where we saw horses run and jump over things whilst carrying small men with garish shirts up a steep hill, we thought we would cast our beadies over other sporting events this week.

So we’ve cast aside the jockey’s diet of a lettuce leaf and two glasses of water, choosing instead the steak and eggs option of the Six Nations. Wayne had a look at the points table and reached for the slide rule causing Alex much mirth, who promptly explained the concept of spreadsheets.

With this being the final weekend of a thrilling Six Nations, Wayne has put his new found expertise on pages with grids to answer the question on everybody’s lips. He has worked out that if Italy beat Wales in the early game, Scotland have no hope of avoiding a wooden spoon-shaped object.

In other news we saw that scientists from the University of Illinois are working on “hangover free” wine. Reading past the headlines however and we discover that by genetically modifying the yeast using a “genome knife” they believe they will remove some of the toxins that cause hangovers, and may even be able to boost the “health” benefits of a wine by introducing things like ginseng. The article then went on to say that it’s not just these toxins that cause hangovers, there is a series of other suspects too, many of which they don’t understand.

We’ve conducted a quick straw poll amongst all our staff and we’re going to stick with an occasional tactical glass of water, and our firm belief that the best winemakers do virtually nothing in the winery.

Roy Hodgson has named the squad for the games against Lithuania and Italy and again the selection misses out on anyone called either Kevin or Pietersen. We can’t help but think you’ve missed a trick there Roy!

    Back by Popular Demand

The Chocolate Block 2013 £23.99 (6 bottles for £120)
– Undoubtedly one of South Africa’s most sought after wines, the 2013 is a blend of Syrah (71%); Cabernet Sauvignon (12%); Grenache Noir (11%); Cinsault (5%) and Viognier (1%). They say: “An exotic and vibrant vintage with an iron edge running alongside the inky core of prunes, mulberries, cloves and boasting floral notes. Firm ripe tannins on the palate covered by plums, blackberries and olive tapenade. Textured, composed and seamless in style.”

We can’t think of a better match for some venison.

    Wine and Cheese

I’m not entirely sure how we got from venison to cheese, but anyway, Thursday 16th April sees the next outing of our Cheese and Wine tasting. We still have a few places left so don’t be shy, give us a call on 020 8944 5224 or swing by, say hi and we’ll book you in. £20 per person and an 8pm start as usual.

    Wine School

You’ve all been asking so…
Term Starts on Wednesday 15th April at 8pm sharp. Over 6 Wednesday evenings you’ll taste around 60 different wines discover new favourites and who knows, maybe make some friends too. There’s nothing on the telly, cost is £150 and full details are attached.

    Tasting This Weekend

In the white corner this week we’ll have a gargle on Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc 2013 £13.99. Hailing from Marlborough this was a sheep farm until Domaine Henri Bourgeois, a Sancerre producer for 10 generations, bought the land and planted some Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes. The resulting wine is an unmistakeably Kiwi Sauvignon with a certain amount of French sensibility and restraint.

In the red corner we’ll turn that whole idea on its head with Tahi 2009 £22.99. Here we have a typically French wine made by an Englishman who trained in New Zealand. I’ll make no apologies for this being the 2nd Domaine Treloar wine in a fortnight, the wines are too delicious to have unopened on the shelf!

Wine is for Drinking!

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As an antidote to the cricket, the Harlequins, and various football team’s fortunes, we have been focussing on winning this week. Visitors to the shop have noticed the Cheltenham festival trotting away in the background as we’ve got on with things. A thoroughly enjoyable diversion as every race has had a winner. We’ve not been so successful ourselves but surely the fun is in trying.

This weekend we see a return to action in the Six Nations with Twickers hosting the England Scotland game at 5 o’clock on Saturday. At the risk of supplying an opener for the worm can, I’m hoping England have a big bounce back from their defeat at the hands of the Irish.

Elsewhere, we had a full house of graduates from the latest episode of Wine School. New dates coming to an inbox near you very soon!

In the wider wine world the big news was words from Robert Parker: “Spending a lot for a top quality wine is fine if you plan to drink it, but not as a form of investment.” He went on to point out the costs of storage and insurance, along with slow market appreciation make it an often fruitless exercise, and in his opinion after 37 years in the trade, it was a terrible investment.

Now these words are fairly similar to utterances you may have heard either of us say on occasion, we are certainly in the ‘wine is for drinking’ camp.
It was more the response to his comments that caught our attention, with several commentators suggesting it was disingenuous of Mr Parker to “criticise the concept of wine investment”. Now, I’m sure it will come as no surprise to most of us that all these comments came from people who have a vested interest in talking us all into investing in wine.

Why is it nowadays that every time somebody voices an opinion, it is immediately taken as a criticism by those with a different view? Do we not learn things from opposing views, are we so scared of a different view that we have to resort to such aggressively defensive language?

Rant over!

Weekend Wine Tasting
The sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed some unfamiliar (or as we like to call them ‘New’) wines appear on the shelves the last few weeks. These are the fruits of our dashing around town in sniffing, slurping and spitting whilst you were all dry January-ing. See how we sacrifice ourselves?

We shall share a couple of those with you this weekend: we’ll start in the white corner with La Terre Promise (£16.99) from our chums Jonathan and Rachel at Domaine Treloar. A delicious Catalan white and certainly the first wine we’ve listed that is named after a Bruce Springsteen song.
In the red nose corner, we’re staying firmly with the Catalan theme but crossing the border and driving down the coast a bit before we turn inland at Tarragona. This is where we find the Montsant region, home to Mas Collet (£14.49) from our very newest chums at Celler Capçanes, a delicious blend of Garnacha, Samsó, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

That’s it from us folks, we quite like the form on Road to Riches and Coneygree in the Gold Cup but do remember we work with wine, not horses!

Wine & Cheese Tasting next Thursday – Some call it educational, some call it social, Wayne calls it dinner

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And the answer to Tommy & Alice’s maths puzzler from last week? Well, a number of you made good stabs at it but in the end, and with a big dollop of hindsight, it seems the best answer was to forget about watching sport completely and read the paper – far less frustrating and fundamentally more educational!

But we move on, we’re in a new month, we’re just days away from summertime (clocks leap forward in 22 days) and I’ve taken to wearing just one sweater in the shop. And the sun has been seen on consecutive days – get in!

Somewhere in the depths of winter – Guy Fawkes night perhaps or when Christmas shopping in New York or up a hill on New Year’s Eve – anyway, sometime over winter a few of you turned to your other half as you gazed into the embers/blizzard over Central Park/horizontal drizzle and said:

You know what, I could do this forever, but only if I could do it forever with you by my side – will you marry me?

Your other half dissolved into tears/giggles and before you knew it you had been introduced to far flung members of both families, you had developed a keen interest in marquees and for the first time you have had to grade your friends into some sort of league system relating to their worthiness and thus their likelihood of getting invited to your wedding.

There are chores and bores to organising a wedding and sometimes you wonder why on earth you are doing it this way – wouldn’t it be easier to slope off to the Seychelles and get married on a beach with a crab for best man. However once you have chosen venue, dress, transport, first dance and guestlist the fun really begins – you now have to choose your menu and more importantly you now have to choose your drinks.

If you are at a venue that has its own wine list and won’t allow you to BYO then you are restricted by their choices. However if the venue does allow you to provide your own drinks then this is the time you need to come and speak to us.

Here’s how it works. You come to us and tell us what you’re having to eat, how many people there are and what sort of drinks you’re after – usually it’s bubbles, white and red with perhaps some beers too. Hopefully you have an idea of budget, more often you know how much it would cost to do the drinks through the venue and are looking to get better wine for less money. Once we have all the details we make a selection of wines and drag you into the shop for a tasting – see I told you it was the fun bit. We talk to you about the wines, you taste them, we talk some more, you take a couple of them home with you to taste with your friends and we then proceed to quantities and delivery arrangements. How easy was that, all in one paragraph.
So, if you’re getting married this summer and are underwhelmed by the products on offer at your chosen location, come and have a word with us – we’ve done loads of these events over the years of differing size and budget – we’ll definitely be able to help you out.

Pitch complete.

    Other news

We have a few seats still available at the table for our Wine & Cheese Tasting next Thursday 12th March at 8pm. If you haven’t been before and were wondering what goes on, here is the plan in a nutshell. We consult with our local cheese wholesaler – Norbiton Cheese – to source four seasonal, ripe cheeses around about 2 kilos in total. Once we know what the cheeses are we select a range of wine, always including a white and a sweetie, that we consider to be good matches. Now, we know a lot about the wines but are very much the keen amateurs when it comes to the cheese – so together we all taste the various wines with the various cheeses and consider their relative merits. Some call it educational, some call it social, Wayne calls it dinner – it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a Thursday night!

It costs £20 per person – to book one of the spaces you can either reply to this email, phone us on 020 8944 5224 or pop in and see us in the shop.

    This Week’s Wines

We’ve got a few new wines in stock, a couple of old favourites have finally landed to (Crusher Pinot Noir, for example) and with this in mind, coupled with the fact that it’s threatening to be a lovely weekend, we thought we’d open a couple of lighter wines tonight.

Quinta das Maias Branco 2013 – £11.39 this organic white comes from 600m up in the foothills of Serra da Estrela, Portugal’s largest mountain range. The wine is fleshy, with almost Golden Delicious apple fruit and a long balanced finish. Unoaked and made from Malvasia Fina and Encruzado, we think this is one of the Dao’s finest whites.

Calusari Pinot Noir 2013 – £8.69 those of you with memories akin to Nellie will recall that we used to sell this wine. In 2011. It then disappeared from our radars for a few years until we rediscovered it at a tasting in early February. Made in Romania, this is the best value Pinot Noir we have ever come across – beautifully balanced red fruits, integrated tannins and a decent length finish, frankly, what’s not to like?
Both these wines will be open today and tomorrow, as will the shop, so swing by and have a try, if you can get through the scrum of recently engaged couples!

Bon Weekend one and all.