Archive for January, 2016

Thirst, Fiano and Garnacha

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Goodness gracious, c’est le weekend, encore un fois. Sacre bleu and zut alors all round, what an earth shall we write in the email.

We could write about Wayne washing his jeans with the winning lottery ticket in it. We could write about the tennis and the cricket.  We could comment on the bomb scares at Ricard’s Lodge and Raynes Park High.  We could confess to turning up to a supplier tasting at the Institute of Directors on Tuesday, 24 hours early, and being told to stroll on.  We could suggest setting Zika onto ISIS.  We could share the news with you that iconic German brand, Black Tower has announced a major ad spend and a national marketing campaign, using the phrase I know we all associate with the wine “Wow! It’s Black Tower”. Apparently there will be special packaging for the retail trade which will highlight the new look, as well as a range of regional activities running from March to July in northwest England – think we might have found their target market!

But we won’t bore you with any of that, because we want to keep your minds clear to focus on a couple of things:

The Park Vintners January sale

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. 6 bottles for the price of 5.  16.66% discount off a box.  And you can mix it too.

The catch.

You have to partake before close of play on Saturday – come February, this deal will have been put to bed for another year.

So, even if you’re doing dry January now, be sure to be properly prepared for monsoon February.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 8pm – Thursday 11th February £20 per person

And so we start our sixth year of quest to find the perfect match. It’s a few days before Valentines Day and as we all know nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a spoonful of Stinking Bishop and a glass of Rioja.  Forget about buying him a new decanter or getting her 60 red roses – this is what everyone really wants!  Sign up quick, spaces are filling

Tasting this weekend

We were setting up a tasting the other day and were ruminating on the fact that if we turned up to an event, say a wedding or such like, and the two wines on offer were Mezzogiorno Fiano £8.99 and Campos de Luz Garnacha £8.49 how very happy and potentially over the limit we would be!  So with this in mind we’re going to open them both this weekend purely because we quite fancy it.

So there you go, that’s the first two wines in the case, only four more to go and you’re in big discount country!

Roll on the Thirst of February…

Wine, Whisky, Wine School, 6 for 5 – there be your bulletpoints!

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Fellow Wine Whisky Lovers,

Some hae meat and canna eat, And some would eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.

It’s Rabbie Burns time again.  Monday sees the one day of the year when we all pretend to be Scottish, start talking in mock-tavish and confidently misquote poems about a Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, when in actual fact we should be reciting Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!

And we eat.  We eat cock-a-leekie soup, and we eat haggis and neeps and tatties, and we tell our children to stop sniggering at the soup, and we tell our children that they must try a mouthful of the great chieftain of the pudding race, that it tastes like spicy mince, and that no, we can’t remember what it’s made of but, my gosh, isn’t it tasty, have another bite…

And we drink.  We drink Champagne because we can and it’s an excuse for an end of January celebration, we drink Sparkling Shiraz if you’re name is Alex and you have really done a lot of research, we drink reds from the Rhone, and we drink whites from everywhere, and we sing and we dance and we still don’t know what a Scotsman keeps under his kilt…

But what Whisky do we drink?  Do we have one for the toast, a different one for pouring on the haggis and a third for pontificating over afterwards?  Of course we do, we’re proper Scots tonight, it’s Burns Night and tomorrow is for wimps and whimpering…

And here’s what we’re drinking:

Glenalmond Highland Blended Malt £29.99

This is a blend of only Highland malts.  Sweet and peaty on the nose showing caramel, roasted nuts and honey character.   The palate is spicy, displaying once again the honey and caramel character but now joined by cloves, peat and a hint of ginger.  A medium length finish with a touch of smoke.

Finlaggan Islay Single Malt £30.99

Bottled by the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, it is a well-guarded secret as to which distillery on Islay this actually hails from.  For a long time we thought Caol Ila, then someone suggested Lagavulin and then someone else said something else and deep discussions ensued.  It has a full and pungent nose with a peaty earthiness and a salty ozone character you only get when faced with tumbling waves.  The palate is dry, medium peated with a slightly medicinal sweetness and hints of tar in the background.  A long smooth finish with burnt oak smokiness and a pleasing richness.  It comes as no surprise to us that this is our perennial best seller.

Benromach 10 years old Speyside Single Malt £36.99

We loved this from the off.  Forest fruits, herby smokiness and honey/toffee tones.  When we added a drop of spring water the fruits came through even more including a ripe apple character and some almost sherry nuttiness.  Soft yet complex, with a cheekily spicy finish.

Speymalt from Macallan Distillery 2006 Single Malt (bottled 2015) £37.99

Gordon & MacPhail buy the whisky and then mature it in carefully selected high quality casks.  A touch of smoked toffee on the nose with hints of ripe citrus fruit in the background.  The palate displays notes of beeswax, ripe apple and perhaps tropical fruit with some gentle peppery spice on the finish.

Linkwood 15 years old Speyside Single Malt (matured and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail) £46.99

The nose is all sweet furniture polish and Oloroso sherry.  On the palate these flavours open up with sweet summer berry fruit and some cake spice characteristics.  Silky smooth and very long on the finish.

Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Royal Brackla Distillery 1998 Highland Single Malt (bottled 2014) £46.99

One of only three distilleries ever granted permission to use ‘Royal’ in its name due to it being the favoured tipple of King William IV.  Sweet vanilla and exotic fruits dominate the nose whilst the palate adds some black pepper and a hit of milk chocolate on the finish – all of which serve to make it deliciously smooth and moreish.

Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength Highland Park Distillery 2006 Single Malt (bottled 6th May 2015) £50.00

A cask strength (57.9%) bottling from four first fill bourbon barrels.  Hailing from Orkney this is one of Wayne’s favourite distilleries and it’s easy to see why.  There is a lovely contrast between sweet malty fruit aromas and an underlying bonfire smokiness.  Perhaps the perfect all-rounder, pleasing those who like peat and those who prefer fruit in equal measure.

The Vintage Malt Whisky Company Coopers Choice Glenrothes Distillery 1997 Single Malt (bottled 2014) £69.69

Glenrothes is in the very heart of Speyside and this Coopers Choice is a very special bottling.  16 years old, from cask 15715, and thus one of just 300 bottles.  Creamy, sweet complex dark fruit and a magnificently smooth, lingering palate.  They have done a truly excellent job here.

MacPhail’s 21 years old Speyside Single Malt £69.99

The MacPhail’s Single Malt is distilled to their order and matured in their own casks.  The distillery of origin is a closely guarded secret (although they do own Benromach…) which, like the Finlaggan above, gives the malt an air of mystery.  Full bodied, deep amber in colour, rich and slightly smoky, with hints of sweet sherry cask.  A classic Speyside in truth, with raisins, smoke, leather, toffee and overripe fruit in abundance.  A seriously good dram.

So that’s what we’re drinking – which do you fancy?  If it helps your decision making, we have the Finlaggan, Benromach, Speymalt and Linkwood all open for tasting!

Last orders please ladies and gentlemen

It’s the penultimate weekend of the month so a couple of things are starting to draw to a close.

First up, our fabulous 6 for 5 deal is entering its twilight hours – don’t start February understocked, especially if you are one of the 2 million people ‘doing’ a dry January (thanks for the stats, Jacqueline) – the offer will have finished at close of play 31st January, you have been forewarned.

Second, we have a few spaces left on our Wine School which starts next Wednesday, 27th January.  You’ve all read enough from us about it so I won’t labour the point; suffice to say if you’re tempted, the time to let us know is now.  We’re not entirely sure when we will run this again, since we might do something a bit different next term, just so you know.

Third, and not nearly as short dated as the previous two, places on our various tastings are starting to fill so I have attached the confirmed dates for you to check against your diary.

Time, please

That must be it from us; we’ve been going on for ages.  We will have wine open this weekend, the white will be the Ktima Gerovassiliou Single Vineyard Malagousia 2014 £19.39 that one of us bought by accident this week – it’s the posh version of the one we usually have, so you’re all in for a huge treat.  For the red, we’ll crack open the Domaine Treloar One Block Grenache 2012 £11.99 which could be a match for your haggis but is equally delicious with a broad spectrum of sausage related dishes!

Wine, Whisky, Wine School, 6 for 5 – there be your bulletpoints!

Lang may yer lum reek!

Wine and Cheese, Wine School and Guidelines!

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Black armbands, flags at half mast, doff your hat. Cancer took two of our finest this week, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and whilst we are far from being accomplished enough wordsmiths to add to the many eulogies written, or about to be written, suffice to say Park Vintners has been a pretty sombre place of late.  But we have listened to an awful lot of good music…

Elsewhere the FIFA farce rolls on. Jerome Valcke gets sacked for the second time – surely if you sack someone once for having lied constantly during negotiations you don’t then rehire them 8 months later do you?  Unless you’re FIFA and you’re corrupt.  Harold Mayne-Nicholls is banned for seeking favours for family members from various football federations.  His recent significant role was to assess the bid countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.  His assessments flagged both Qatar and Russia as being unsuitable as venues.  Clearly no corruption went on there then!  It’s a mess, it’s a car crash, it’s totally addictive viewing!

And then we come to the one bit of news that this week has really got the booze trade hopping up and down and believing itself to be more important than it actually is– the change in healthy drinking guidelines. ‘Why weren’t we consulted?’ they cried.  ‘20 years after the original guidelines were issued, and following a two year wait, we are surprised that the guidelines are expected to take effect immediately’ Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Association, was quoted as saying.  Well Miles, there’s no point in revising guidelines and then sitting on them for six months now is there?  Plus, why would you be consulted?  You have a vested interest and you’re not a doctor.

Anyway, suffice to say the storm is very much in a teacup, it’s still less dangerous than driving a car or riding a bike and they are still just guidelines.

Spain’s guidelines: 35 units a week.

If you want to learn more about sensible consumption of alcohol

Look no further, we have plenty of opportunities coming up.

In just over 10 days time, our much publicised Wine School starts a new term.  A six-week course covering the spectrum of all things vinous and all for just £150 per person. Even if you don’t listen to a word we say, the opportunity to taste around 60 wines over the duration of the course makes that glass of wine in the Pig & Whistle look a bit pricey.  Full details attached and we really will try to remember to attach them this week!

We have also put some dates in the diary for one-off tastings over the coming months, see below and if you fancy coming just let us know, places are limited:

Thursday 11th February WINE AND CHEESE £20 per person

We select four cheeses, some wines and then proceed to discuss the merits of our choices! Same routine every time but different cheeses and wines we promise.

Thursday 25th February I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT CLARET £25 per person

Compare and contrast wines from Bordeaux with its imitators from around the world!

Thursday 10th March WINE AND CHEESE £20 per person


£25 per person

Pinot Noir – is Burgundy best, or do we prefer what they’re doing in California, New Zealand and the rest – help us make up our minds

Thursday 21st April WINE AND CHEESE £20 per person

Thursday 26th May WINE AND CHEESE £20 per person

And finally…

To celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Mr Rupert Murdoch and Miss Jerry Hall it would seem appropriate to taste some wines of significance this weekend: from Australia we will open the aptly named Accomplice Semillon Sauvignon 2014 – £8.99 a crisp, fresh and grassy number with a hint of tropical fruit – absolutely spot on.  For the red, for reasons we can’t quite fathom, the Californian Burlesque Zinfandel 2013 – £9.39 sprung into view – perhaps it was the rich spiciness that appealed!

Wines will be open this evening and tomorrow – there are many reasons to raise a glass this week, so don’t be shy…

Why don’t I like you?

Because you think I’m an asshole, and I’m not really, I’m just British and, well, you’re not.

Alan Rickman – Bottle Shock (2008)

I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.

David Bowie

Black armbands, flags at half mast, doff your hat.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger, sang Ronnie Wood in 1973, for the Faces…

The Korgis, in 1980, sang the words, Everybody’s got to learn sometime

In 1985, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush duetted, Don’t give up, you still have us…

And 11 years later, Blur came up with the line, Educated the expensive way, he knows his Claret from a Beaujolais…

What few people realise is that they are all referencing our fabulous 6 week Wine School.

Ronnie’s comment bemoans the advice given to him by Rod about which wines to match with asparagus. The Korgis, having tried to open Champagne with a corkscrew, decided it was time to come and see us.  Damon fully appreciated the investment we had put into our WSET Diploma, and was suitably impressed by our intricate knowledge of all things French.

But what is this course about which they rave?

When we worked in Clapham, a customer asked us how he could learn more about wine but without any pretensions. Or having to do any exams.  And where the only homework involved tasting something different once in a while.

We said we weren’t sure where he could do this but if he could wait a few months we’d try and write a course that would fit these criteria. And this is the course we still do now.  Alex can be a little pretentious in his pronunciation of Italian and Spanish wines and Wayne has been known to get a bit scientific when discussing cork taint or alluvial soil in Marlborough, but otherwise we remain true to our initial promise.

The course runs over 6 weeks, the first week introduces you to the how’s and why’s of wine-tasting, weeks 2 & 3 cover a range of the major white grape varieties (around about 14, normally), weeks 4 & 5 give the major red grapes the same treatment and week 6 examines all things fizzy. Also tucked in there will be a foray into Rosé wines, sweet wines, a selection of wine faults and some blind tasting too.

You don’t get a certificate or a lapel badge but you will finish confident that you have tasted in the region of 60 wines over the course and have a far better view of what wines please your palate the most.

If you’re interested in signing up, the course runs on consecutive Wednesdays from the 27th January at 8pm until 9th March.  That is actually a 7 week period as we take a one week half term at the same time as the schools take the week off.  It costs £150 per person and is starting to fill up – many people have taken fliers (see attached) so if you want to confirm your seat at the table then you can either reply to this email or give us a call on 020 8944 5224 – our dedicated sales team will be able to answer any questions you may have (yes Wayne, that’s you).

But hang on; you may be thinking, what about Kate and Peter, what were they singing about?

Well, I have to tell you, honestly, that neither Kate Bush nor Peter Gabriel has been on our course.  Theirs was a song to remind us that, in spite of it being January, with the festive season well buried, we still have friends out there.  We also see it as an imploring suggestion not to abstain in January, or perhaps we’re being unusually fanciful…

… because why would you abstain when we are offering our annual 6 for 5 deal?  Yes indeed, for the sixth year running we will be offering six bottles for the price of five or, if you prefer, 16.66% discount off a case of six bottles, mixed or all the same.  This offer doesn’t include Cristal or the James Bond Bollinger but everything else is fair game – even San Pellegrino, if you are abstaining but still like a deal!

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3 crooned Ian Dury in 1979 – and even though it’s cold and very January outside, we’re inclined to agree!