Archive for September, 2015

Sherry – Oooo, that’s absolutely delicious

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What’s the best festival you’ve been to? 

For Wayne, Woodstock ranks highly from the vague snippets he can recall (you just had to be there, man), the Bang Face Weekender and the Hull International Sea Shanty Festival both coming a close second.  My wife really liked the idea of Bookfest, until it was explained that it wasn’t simply an opportunity to sit in a tent on Wimbledon Common and read your book uninterrupted for 10 days.  Rufus really wants to go to the Kattenstoet, particularly the bit when they throw the cats out of the belfry tower into the square below – however he’s not able to go because it’s in Belgium, he’s a cocker spaniel without a passport and apparently they stopped throwing real cats in 1817.

Me, well I don’t know.  Having had, at university, a reasonably lucrative career driving people down to Glastonbury at 2am to help them climb the fence and pocketing enough cash to get me to the pub for the next week, my view of festivals is more from the position of facilitator rather than attendee. The Bearded Theory Festival in Derbyshire is an attractive proposition on name alone as is the Hop Farm Festival but the current favourite is of course our very own Great Sherry Festival.

Two weeks of drinking and talking about sherry in the comfort of our own shop with no need to queue for a portaloo or an overpriced falafel and no requirement to sleep under canvas.  Yes, two weeks – far longer than your Isle of Wight or Reading events and far less smelly.

Last weekend really kicked it off – we had Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Classic Dry Manzanilla 37.5cl £7.99; we had Emilio Lustau Almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar 50cl (£21.99); we had Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Fino En Rama 37.5cl (£9.99), we had… we had loads open.

And we’re going to have them all open again this weekend – I’ve attached a list if you’d like to see what we’ve got – so hopefully those of you that already love Sherry can re-visit some old favourites and those of you who’ve always wondered what all the fuss is about, well, you can find out what all the fuss is about…

As with all good festivals, there is always some sort of highlights programme late on a Saturday night and this festival is no different.  Actually there is no programme but we do have a short list of firstly, things we have learnt about sherry this week and secondly, things we have learnt about you

Things we have learnt about sherry this week

Amontillado is the most adaptable – it goes with nuts, cured meats, mature cheeses, salt fish, baked fish, salt baked fish (!), consommés, shellfish, smoked fish, fresh tuna, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, game, spicy dishes and of course, on its own.

Manzanilla and Fino, with their low acidity, are the perfect foil to dressed salads – the vinegar acidity doesn’t have anything to fight with – so we can pencil in Salt & Vinegar Squares as a good match here too.

Cream sherry, when made with top quality Oloroso and a splash of PX is a joy to behold and far removed from the stuff in blue bottles – in fact it can even have a herbaceous character, reminiscent of a good Vermouth.  Who knew?  Definitely not us until this week…

Things we have learnt about you

Many of you came in and, quite rightly, said that you preferred the drier Manzanilla style of sherry, the stuff you enjoy with some tapas and olives and that really the sweet sherries were not your cup of tea and a bit Aunt Maud, if you will.

Best-selling sherry so far?  Bodegas César Florido Moscatel Dorado 37.5cl £8.99 – a sweet sherry made from late harvested Moscatel grapes in Chipiona, on the coast.  Oooo, that’s absolutely delicious, was the oft heard phrase!

So, in conclusion – sherry on tasting all day today and tomorrow, places filling on our various evening tastings, especially the Posh Italian Evening (see attached), and rugby on the TV all weekend.

England v Wales – I couldn’t possibly comment in writing!


As we see it, nothing says Rugby World Cup like a schooner of sherry… the Great Sherry Festival is back!

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

To say we are a little excited would, quite possibly, be a little understatement. The week started off gently enough with Sherry tasting on Monday whilst Wednesday saw us swanning around in Mayfair at the Dirty Dozen tasting of small importers in the morning, before launching the new term of Wine School in the evening.  It’s a tough job but we apply ourselves!

But what really has us ‘made up’ with excitement is news that reached us yesterday: British Cycling has been working with the England Rugby Team! As long standing observers of the cycling scene we are well aware of what their ‘marginal gains’ did to Chris Hoy’s legs. So we fully expect all 31 members of the squad to have fast, strong legs.  Given the known skills cyclists have for dancing, we’ll also be looking forward to the marginal gains brought to the ‘Hakarena’.

Yes folks, this evening the Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off with England hosting Fiji at Twickers. So, if you were as lucky with tickets as we were, pop in and get some supplies on the way home. We have beer, biltong and Bollinger to hand; alongside a selection of Malbec, should you be firing up the barbecue.

Tasting Dates

In our usual, organised way we have had these dates on the back of a fag packet marked in the diary for absolutely ages, and today’s publication has nothing to do with pleading, nagging, cajoling or otherwise…

Thursday 15th October at 8pm WINE AND CHEESE – £20

This one falls during our Shop Rioja feature, so will definitely feature some fabulous drops from that part of the world.

Thursday 19th November at 8pm ITALIAN POSH- £30

We’ve been wittering on about our posh purchasing over the summer and thought it high time we put some in your glass, so come and join us for a tour of the posher addresses in the land of grapes.

Thursday 26th November at 8pm WINE AND CHEESE – £20

We’ll be pinning a Santa badge on the cheese monster for this tasting and coming up with some suggestions to match the traditional cheese board – to port or not to port, that is the question?

Thursday 3rd December at 8pm CHAMPAGNE AND SPARKLING – £25

We are FIVE!!!  Bubbly on a birthday, what could possibly go wrong?

Alex said he’s pulling out all the stops for this, I think it is because he won’t need a corkscrew!

Sherry Festival 2015

As we see it, nothing says Rugby World Cup like a schooner of sherry. With that in mind, we decided to join in once again with the Great Sherry Festival organised by @sherrywinesuk

This weekend we’ll have a selection of fine drops from that very special corner of Spain open for your delectation. We’ll be talking about food matching too and if that isn’t exciting enough for you, we’ve just discovered that Saturday is also ‘International talk like a pirate day’

We’ll start you off with some lines from Pirates of Penzance

Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry; Fill, oh fill, the pirate glass; And to make us more than merry let the pirate bumper pass!

Shiver me timbers and pass me sherry!


My daughter says school is sooo boooring but she hasn’t tried wine school!

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As I write this in the sultry Thursday evening sunlight I find it difficult to see much wrong with the world.  This I find extremely vexing because it is a very rare day that I am unable to see 6 or 7 things ‘wrong with the world’ and I am worried if my ‘WwtW’ radar needs re-calibrating.

To continue.  There’s not too much wrong tonight in Wimbledon Park – we’ve not been evacuated from burning planes in Las Vegas, not had our LinkedIn photo commented upon or been shamed and outed by the Commons Expenses Watchdog as non-payers of expenses.

In truth, there is actually one thing wrong with WP this evening – none of you are here!  I believe this sultry sunshine has got you all standing outside wine bars in the city or by the river, rather than rushing home to your loved ones, and of course, your wine shop!

So how can I incentivise you to come home and not go to the pub over the next few weeks?


(For the purpose of this plan, the word ‘all’ doesn’t refer to everyone, just to those who like the things to which we are referring)

We all love the pub.  We all love the rugby, especially International rugby, especially the World Cup.  We all love beer.  We all love going to the pub, drinking beer whilst watching the Rugby World Cup.

However, a potential glitch has occurred regarding the viewing of the England matches – they are all prime time Friday or Saturday evening… not the easiest time to get a seat in the pub even without world class sport going on.  Plus, we all hate queuing, whether for drinks or for the loo….

So, how about bringing the pub to your house?

Become the Landlord of your Living Room by getting yourself a 10 litre minipin of either, Sambrook’s Wandle, Sambrook’s Junction or Sambrook’s Pumphouse.   The minipin is racked bright (without sediment) so that it can be served immediately.  The shelf life on racked bright beer is typically 7 days unopened and 3 days from opening.  Put it on a table in the corner and you have the best part of 18 pints to get through during the match.  And you shouldn’t need to queue.

Prices for the pins are:

Wandle Minipin – £35

Junction Minipin – £37

Pumphouse Minipin – £37

Works out around £2 a pint… which seems remarkably good value!

Should this be of interest let us know over the weekend and we can get orders into the brewery for delivery on Friday – bear in mind they do need a couple of days’ notice so I will be ordering by close of play Monday.

And if you have bigger plans that 18 pints can cope with, again let us know, because they do also do a 20 litre polypin which works out even better on a pint by pint basis.


Flattery will get you nowhere… but don’t stop trying (Miss Moneypenny – Dr. No)

Through no fault of my own, it seems I have a quick Bollinger offer for you – maybe something to do with Mr Bond’s imminent arrival on the big screen quaffing it.  Anyway, just for this weekend, I am reducing the price of Bollinger Special Cuvée to £40 per bottle.  Normally I sell it for £45 and it will still be £200 if you buy 6 bottles (£33.33 per bt), but if you just fancy a single bottle, starting Friday 11th at 11am through until Saturday 12th at 8pm, that’s the deal! 


The Power of Wayne

The usual practice is that when I go on holiday Wayne drains the bank account in pursuit of fine wine and fun.  The fine wine mostly ends up on the shelves in the shop and I find it best not to ask about the fun.  It seems though, even when he’s not here, he still gets up to his tricks…

Earlier this week I received a delivery of 12 bottles of Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico Riserva Cortevecchia DOCG 1997.  This is a wine that we used to sell when we worked in Clapham, is a wine that our suppliers, the main importers, ran out of before we even opened here, so really is a wine I assumed was for the history books.

Clearly not, because it’s here, I don’t know where he found it and cannot find out until he stops sunning himself a few time-zones east of here.

It’s on the shelf for £30.99 – 1997 was a very good vintage in Tuscany and this is a very good wine from that vintage.  I just need to sell it all before he gets back in case he had other plans for it…


My daughter says school is sooo boooring but she hasn’t tried wine school!

And quite right too, because she’s only nine.

You, however, can.

Term starts next Wednesday 16th September, then for the following 5 more weeks.  It costs £150 per person and you’ll taste masses of different wines from all over.

No children allowed.


How about popping in after work and tasting some wine?  We’ve got a couple of wines from the d’Oc: Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2014 – £8.99 and Le Malbec 2013 – £10.99, both delicious in sunshine or rain and frankly, if they’re good enough for the Doc, they must be good enough for us!


A few of you have been asking about Wine & Cheese – we will confirm dates next week.

We will be tasting a lot of sherry here in the shop over the next two weeks though, which should be fun – we’ll let you know more after we’ve seen our Sherry people on Monday.

In fact we’re doing quite a bit of offsite tasting in weeks to come, which means that we will be opening late Monday 14th, Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th we’ll be back by 4pm, at the latest, ideally before…

That’s it from us, time for some Bolli!

Wayne & Alex

Best Value School Fees – £150 for 6 weeks of Wine School!

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Right people, we’re back in the real world now, summer’s over as you may have noticed, the schools are finally doing what schools are meant to do and keeping our children out of our wallets and the next stop is Halloween.

Apologies, nothing on earth can be more depressing on your first week back in the chair than thoughts of pumpkins, trick-or-treat and the clocks going back.

And the Newspapers aren’t filled with huge amounts of joy and jollity either ,with the pages filled with stories that have been threatening to become headlines for a long time and now, unfortunately, seem to be here to stay.

However, ours is not to solve crises or discuss political errors, that falls to far greater minds, ours is to keep you distracted over Friday lunchtime and sharpen you up for the weekend.  So, to shoulder our responsibility, we have decided to create a shortlist of awards for the last week, plucked from various sources, and in no particular order:

Best Proposed Ruling That Will Never Be Policed

Remember when talking on your mobile phone whilst driving was made illegal – well, that was such a success as we all know, prisons filled overnight, cars were impounded and the very idea of talking on a handheld when behind the wheel became as archaic as smoking on the tube.  Now, having taken guidance from heaven knows where, Nottingham council have put a blanket ban on havin’ a gasper during working hours and even when not at work but dressed in council uniform.  Who will be the lucky person given the role of enforcing this no smoking policy… mmm, not sure – I suspect this plan to be stubbed out imminently.

Best Beer

Has to be Guinness Zero ABV.  Admittedly this is only in Indonesia and has been there for a year apparently, but really, zero alcohol.  We drink Guinness because it tastes good as a beverage with alcohol in.  Let’s face it, I don’t ever get asked for alcohol-free Whisky because, like the Zero, that would be weird…

Best Climb in Rankings

This has to be a tie between Rory McIlroy and the Welsh football team.  Now before Karen, Lee, Roger and Morgs get hot under the collar, I’m not having a dig at the Welsh, that’s not at all what I am meaning.  If we take Rory first, he’s now back at world No. 1.  Jordan Spieth lost top spot to him this weekend, when he missed the cut.  Rory didn’t even raise a club this weekend and yet somehow the person who actually went out and played came of worse than the man who stayed at home and watched Ireland lose to Wales in the rugby (see, I love you really Taff!). 

Similarly Wales overtake England in the Fifa world rankings.  They’ve had a cracking Euro qualification period and played 7, won 5, drawn 2 which puts them bang on to qualify for next summer.  The irony is that England couldn’t have had a better campaign themselves!

Who knew sport could be so complicated?

Best TV Coverage

Has to go to whoever is in charge of the cameramen on La Vuelta a España.  Two cyclists taken out by motorbikes filming the race, on 2 separate days, resulting in both riders having to abandon through injury.  As if these Grand Tours weren’t hard enough…

Best Letter

From the erstwhile benchmark of bad behaviour, Shane Warne’s open letter to the current enfant terrible of Aussie tennis, Nick Kyrgios, effectively telling him that he needs to earn respect and stop trying everyone’s patience.  We won’t go into Shane’s long list of misdemeanours but suffice to say they make a good checklist of things not to do as a professional sportsman (perhaps a letter from David Boon at some point might have kept him on the straight and narrow) but we do think his continued use of ‘u’ in place of ‘you’ in the letter will certainly encourage Nick to take this very, very seriously

Best Laugh, Yesterday

The American news-lady, Harris Faulkner, who is suing Hasbro for making a doll which has the same name as her.  Admittedly, they could have used a different name but really, suing for $5 million dollars – apparently she objects to being associated with a toy that presents a choking hazard to children under 3, I kid you not.

What made us laugh though was that she is claiming that the toy bears a strong physical resemblance to her.

It doesn’t. 

Not at all, not even if you scrunch up your eyes and turn it sideways.  She looks like a glamorous American newsreader and the toy looks like a cheap, yellow plastic toy.  Some people really do take themselves a little too seriously…

Best News Regarding Duty And Tax

Apparently all the tax and duty malarkey that we pay on top of our wine actually more than covers the NHS bill.  So we can expect far better treatment, big cures for big diseases and larger beds, or a drop in taxes. 

No, we don’t see it happening either.

Best News Regarding Health

No proof that wine is bad for you, no proof that it isn’t, we might all just be human, and we’re all going to die anyway, yaaarrgghh…!!!

We read an article that said roughly this earlier in the week but can’t find it now under the pile of bottles.  Suffice to say, a new version of the same article will be along in a few weeks’ time – hurrah!

Best Value School Fees

£150 for 6 weeks of Wine School – starts Wednesday 16th September.

Taste 60 wines and, in week 1 get to hear all about Wayne’s holiday, learn lots and lots about them.  Sorry, I had to put a sales pitch in somewhere!

Best Wines

Clearly the best wine is the wine in your glass right now, and the wines in our tasting glasses this weekend will be travelling over from South America where, no doubt, it is warmer. 

In white we will have the Crios Torrontés 2013, Dominio del Plata, Calchaquies Valley/Altamira, Argentina – £13.49 – Torrontes is Argentina’s speciality grape.  Enticing aromas, similar to Viognier, with hints of white pear, white flowers and citrus fruit.  On the palate, it has a beautiful structure and acidity along with enticing fruit flavours and plenty of body for a wine that shows such delicate aromas and flavours.  Fruity, floral and yet still dry.  Asian food with citrus influences, lemon chicken, guacamole, Mexican…

In red we cross the border and have Tabali Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2013, Limari Valley, Chile £12.99.  The Limari Valley is one of Chile’s northernmost regions, and is more coastal than many of the valleys to the south.  Cool sea currents just off the coast and morning fog really benefit the Pinot grape, stopping it from becoming overripe and flabby.  The wine we have here is a great drop and we reckon its silky red fruits will be a delightful match with everything!

Finally, in yellowy-green, we have Bepi Tosolini’s Limoncello – £21.99 which will give you the opportunity to re-live those snoozy, sun-drenched afternoons on the Costa d’Amalfi…

Best be going now!

That’s it, another lunch over, only a few hours left; it’ll be the weekend before you know it.