Archive for July, 2015

Sparkling Red, Provence Rose and tip top Tuscans

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

If I’m honest it’s been kinda slow on the news front this week, with a keen sense of loss flowing through Park Vintners after what was probably one of the most thrilling Tour de France in years, only gently brightened up by the arrival of game 3 in The Ashes.

Elsewhere we discovered the Labour leadership contest has surprised the Parliamentary party with how left wing their supporters are, regardless of your sympathies it is certainly an entertaining story to follow! We could be watching the redemption of the Lib-Dems!

We also learnt that the European Commission is to recognise Bramley apple pie filling as a delicacy! Yorkshire Puds are still waiting.

Wine Stuff

We often get asked about buying wine for investment purposes, and always suggest that wine is for drinking not investing, and that it is very easy to get sucked in and lose a lot of money in the process.

A prime example would be Chateau Lafite 2010, a great wine for sure, and should anyone wander in with a bottle we’d be happy to have a glass and chat about its merits.

The release price for this wine (at a premium over some of its peers) was £12000 per case, a price that has since fallen to around £5700 a case. This new lower price compares fairly favourably with 2005 and 2009 prices at around £6300 each and now represents a more tempting proposition. Clearly now much better value than it was, and fabulous not only in the glass but also in illustrating our point.

Wine News

We read in one of the daily’s that sparkling red wine is getting a bit of a following. This doesn’t surprise us, it has long been a bit of a lovely surprise for attendees of our Wine School, in fact we sold a few cases as the toast wine for a wedding recently.

We’re not sure it’s quite ready to push the prosecco down the purchase list yet, but if you haven’t had the pleasure, we’d suggest trying it with a barbecue. Pauletts Sparkling Red NV (£14.49). This is made in the traditional method but using a red wine base, it has a lovely richness and also the magic of bubbles!

Wine School

Summers over, the kids are back at school and you’re free on Wednesday nights so why not join us and gain some life skills! Full details attached but suffice to say… 60 wines tasted, wine faults discussed and your Wednesdays may never be the same again. Term starts Wednesday 16th September at 8pm and costs £150 per person. Lots of leaflets going for this now so don’t be shy if you’re wondering about coming along. Wednesdays might never be the same again!

Summer SaturdaysJust for the month of August our opening hours will be 10am-7pm on Saturdays.

Back by popular demand…

Chateau Miravel Côtes de Provence Rose (£19.99) Our first tranche disappeared in a flash. Seemed churlish not to get some more really.

Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2013 (£19.99) The new vintage is as delicious as any we can remember, real Tuscan class.

Sesti Monteleccio 2013 (£17.99) Giuseppe is still doing his fine work in Montalcino, you’ve all nagged us for running out, we listened.

Domaine Treloar Three Peaks 2011 (£12.99) “50% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre. Rich aniseed and liquorice character on the nose, with a really charming violet scent. Very fine tannins, fresh acid. Chocolate and spice. 17+ Drink 2013-2023” Richard Hemming, Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages

Tasting this Weekend

Defending the crease in the red end this week is Botham Merrill Willis Shiraz 2011 (£16.99) a beefy glass of shiraz that’ll be tip top with some grilled meat, whilst bowling from the white end will be Barton Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2013 (£9.79) which is less ashes connected but still really rather tasty.

Have a great weekend everyone,

Wayne & Alex

There is no blue corner.

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As you will have read in last week’s email, we had a very comprehensive to-do list this week, marginally complicated by the golf running over but let’s just say that was compensated for by an outstanding batting display by the England cricket team.

The Tour de France has been ticking along nicely, showing us some beautiful mountain scenery, exciting racing, a masterclass in descending from Peter Sagan and a scientist’s smorgasbord from Team Sky with Froomey’s data on stage 10.

We’ve discussed (at length) the continued sniping, accusations, and downright poor journalism from the French press and can’t help but think that, if there had been as much time, energy and column inches devoted to their own Sports Science, it might not be 30 years since there was a Frenchman winning the world’s greatest race!

At this point the to-do list got entirely sabotaged. No ordinary saboteurs either, but agents from Spectre interfered with the smooth running of your local wine shop by releasing a trailer to the new Bond movie. Compelled to watch, we find ourselves looking forward to the release in the autumn. Alex is even threatening to get his white tux out of mothballs.

Bond brings me to the subject of Bollinger. We’ve still got our fabulous offer on. Six bottles for £200 (£33.33 per btl) which will come in very handy should you unexpectedly bump in to Edina or Patsy.

In wine news we discovered this week that a group of young Spanish guys have developed the world’s first blue wine. This news brought up several questions in our minds…why?… would Naked wines distribute it?…How?

How: It seems red and white wines were blended together (surely a recipe for rose?-Ed) before adding anthocyanins and indigo pigment (dye, surely?-Ed) and then some sugar to “smooth the taste”. Now call me old-fashioned, a stick in the mud if you must, but red wine, white wine, dye and sugar does not a wine make…vermouth perhaps, alcopop maybe or just a weird chemical soup. Wine? I think not.

We saw a depressing graph this week showing sherry sales going downhill quicker than Peter Sagan. It seems the deliciously food friendly dry styles are growing slowly, but not quickly enough to balance the dying market for the ½-pint-of-Bristol-Cream-before-lunch brigade. Jerez has been a big “beneficiary” of the EU’s grubbing up programme the last few years, but we’re not entirely convinced that region is the chief culprit of EU oversupply!

Wine School

Summers over, the kids are back at school and you’re free on Wednesday nights so why not join us and gain some life skills! Full details attached but suffice to say… 60 wines tasted, wine faults discussed and your Wednesdays may never be the same again. Term starts Wednesday 16th September at 8pm and costs £150 per person. Don’t wait till we’re full!

Weekend Wine Tasting

We’ll try and do our bit to stop the sherry descent and open Fernando de Castilla Fino en Rama (£9.99 37.5cl) to show you just how delicious it is. Meanwhile over in the red corner we’re going with something from the mountains in Piemonte. Alasia Langhe Nebbiolo (£10.79) is made from the same quality fruit as their Barolo but sadly, coming from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s not allowed the Barolo name or price tag. For us that equals bargain deliciousness so why not come and give it a taste.

There is no blue corner.

Have a great weekend one and all, if you’re travelling take care and don’t forget the passport.

Wurzer, Wimbledon and Pinot Noir

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Nomophobia.  No-Mobile-Phone-Phobia.  Apparently not officially a phobia but a normal anxiety – nomophoanxiety just doesn’t have the same ring to it (geddit!) –was a concept introduced into our lives earlier this week.

The tennis fortnight brings many joys to our days, as touched upon last week, but the most recent string to our bow is our role as a mobile phone charging centre.  It would seem that overuse of apps and cameras whilst taking selfies on Mount Murray, results in severe battery drainage.  However, fear not, help is at hand.  Under the rules of modern etiquette it is now apparently accepted practice to walk into any local wine shop and request 20 minutes use of an electrical socket to charge your phone.  You back up this request with an assertion that you’ll ‘buy the whole shop’ as way of thanks and then seal the deal with a request to use the loo.

Twenty minutes later, with the phone charged and the realisation that all money has already been spent at the tennis, our happy travellers exit the shop empty handed but happy that their lifeline still has charge.  Have a nice day and thanks for using us!

Then there’s the slightly different, but equally strange, request from one couple who asked to borrow our phone to call a friend, again because their own phone was chargeless.  A strange request, given that the younger of the two proceeded to get her, seemingly fully functioning, phone out of her bag in order to read out the relevant number to the elder, whilst she was dialling.  The fact that there is a payphone directly outside the shop is neither here nor there.  Cheapskates.

So, nomophobia, a new one on us but an affliction I suspect we’ll become more aware of as years go by.  To properly put the icing on the cake though, I was talking about these events to a friend who doesn’t live in London and thus mostly communicates by beacon and pigeon and she led me to this story:

“I witnessed something tonight that I never imagined I would see in a Broadway theatre,” Chris York wrote on Facebook.

“I saw an audience member climb onto the stage right before the show and plug his cell phone into a (fake) electrical outlet on the set. ON. THE. SET. The crew had to stop the preshow music, remove the cell-phone, and make an announcement as to why you can’t do that. Has theatre etiquette – heck, common sense – really fallen that far??”

Bonkers.   The full article appears here:

Witte pottekes

And my learning didn’t stop there.  Wine School wrapped up this week with a bang and a pop as we finished with the Champagne & Sparkling wine.  Many people come on Wine School to learn about wine, which makes sense.  However, I don’t think anyone had quite banked on the extra things we learnt from Wayne on Wednesday evening… when asked how much Flemish he knew he regaled us with phrase for ‘two beers please’, ‘eleven beers please’, a couple of others I cannot remember and then, as a final flourish, erupted with the phrase witte pottekes before collapsing giggling.  We had no clue what filthy language he had just used and pushed him for a translation…

I’ll give you his translation at the end but suffice to say, you learn a lot about wine at wine school and sometimes you learn a lot about Wayne too!

Next course starts Wednesday 16th September at 8pm for 6 consecutive weeks.  £150 per person, Flemish lessons gratis.

Around the spittoon…

Ages ago, February in fact, we tasted a wine that we thought would be spot on for summer drinking.  February has now passed, summer is here and appropriate drinking needs to be addressed.

Step in Siefried Wurzer 2014 – £13.99.  Now, this wine comes from New Zealand but in fact Würzer is a scarcely planted white variety developed in Alzey, Germany, in 1932 by crossing Gewürztraminer with Müller-Thurgau.  Since the beginning of the 90’s it has experienced a steady decline in plantings to the extent that apparently now less than 70 acres (30ha) remain in its homeland.  It can be herbaceous, floral, citrus, have apple notes or even tropical and stonefruits.  It’s delicious and fun – who knew?

The red is less exotic but no less fun – Aromo Winemaker’s Selection Pinot Noir 2011 – £10.99.  This chap hails from Chile’s Bio-Bio Valley where top-notch Pinot Noir has been appearing for a while, it’s cool climate really benefitting the grapes.  However the secret is not fully out yet, so they are still good value.  Lovely strawberry aromas, a touch of spice and some caramel notes into the fresh finish.  Very summery.

Lost in translation…

I know, I’m sorry for that header.  Anyway it transpires that Wayne wasn’t referring to nefarious or smutty activities when he said witte pottekes but just really enjoyed the onomatoepaeic sounds it made.  Translation into English is little white pots and he knows how to ask for two or eleven of them – I suggest you all ask him when you come into the shop over the weekend!

That’s it for now, tennis, cricket, cycling, all continue apace and all are great to watch with a glass in hand – Enjoy!


We’ve checked the forecast and must warn you that we have shorts on…

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

One look around us and we can see it is that time of the year. We have become experts in giving directions to car parks 6 & 8, the quickest direction to go to find a queue, and a glance in most windows find’s them full of tennis balls. All this excitement, anecdotal stories (Djokovic playing tennis in the street at 8.30pm with the local kids was my favourite last year), and lorry loads of strawberries weaving their way through SW19 can mean only one thing….

The Tour de France starts this Saturday with the Grand Départ being hosted by Utrecht in the Netherlands. It could be a real nail biter of a race with this year’s route beginning like a mini selection of classics before we finally have a look at some mountains on stage 10. I’ve pencilled Mark Cavendish in for the stage wins on 2 and 6 (assuming he survives the cobbles) but overall winner is too close to call for me with Nibali, Contador, Froome and Quintana all looking good. There’s even talk of Frenchmen in contention too, with a strong chance that Romain Bardet will win the young rider prize.

Whilst we’re talking about sport, we absolutely have to mention The Lionesses, who put in a stellar performance in The World Cup.  Let’s hope some of that stardust and team spirit falls near the men’s team.

The procession that is this year’s Formula 1 season lands at Silverstone for the weekend, let’s hope for some racing, we think the season so far has been rubbish.

Sometimes this email writes itself…

Essex Police have covered themselves with glory calling death by bullet wound to the chest ‘natural causes’. A full six days later somebody went to Specsavers  spotted the error at the post-mortem.

In Bedfordshire police report a very strange crime wave. It appears there are teams of Vauxhall Cannibals wandering the streets at night. Victims wake up to find large parts of their Vauxhall car have been stripped and stolen with one lady losing the bonnet, bumper headlights and radiator overnight!  Apparently 5-10 incidents happen each week .

Wine Stuff

We managed to snap up a couple of bin-end bargains this week with a couple of Amarone della Valpolicella.

Starting with some single vineyard awesomeness that makes me wish there was more available.

Capitel Monte Olmi  Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Tedeschi 2008 – £52

“Notes of wild herb, spice box and pekoe tea mark this aromatic red, while grippy tannins frame the tightly knit flavors of dried currant, iron, rhubarb and wood smoke. This traditional style needs air, so enjoy alongside food to get the full effect. Best from 2016 through 2026.” 92 pointsAlison Napjus, Wine Spectator.

Following up with a cheeky half bottle that we can just put down as a Thursday night treat when nobody is looking:

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Tedeschi 2009 37.5cl – £16.50

“The 2009 Amarone della Valpolicella opens to a dark, midnight color and spicy aromas of old spice, Middle Eastern bazaar, waxed furniture, honey-roasted ham, cured meat, caramelized sugar and dark road pavement… the wine will surely appeal to die-hard Amarone enthusiasts. 2015-2025.” 93 points The Wine Advocate

Wine School – Autumn Term

As we mentioned last week we are now taking bookings for our six week course that starts on Wednesday 16th September.  Full details are attached and give us a call or drop a line if you’d like to come along – 020 8944 5224.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ve checked the forecast and warn you we’ll have shorts on. It seems to us that a fresh summery white and something to drink alongside some barbecue might not be a bad idea.

So to toast ‘natural causes’ and because Essex are hosting the Aussies, we’ll start with New Hall Vineyards Bacchus – £12.99, a fine summery drop from a 67 hectare vineyard in Purleigh (near Chelmsford) that was planted in 1969. That said, there was a vineyard planted there in 1120 that was taken over by the Crown in 1163 to supply wines in London.

In the red corner, sporting Raybans and a sharp suit, is one of our favourite Sicilians, Tareni del Duca Nero d’Avola – £11.99 which is just the ticket with a butterflied leg of lamb cooked over the coals.

There’s tennis on too in case you were wondering, Murray to beat Djokovic in the final perhaps?

Lovely weekend folks, here’s to a long hot summer!