Archive for February, 2016

Going up West- the quest for wine.

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s a different world out there Wayne and I’m not sure I understand it.

Lately, we’ve been travelling up west at least once a week to tantalise our taste buds with wines of, sometimes dubious, distinction. We’ve been mingling with pencil-tie-sporting sommeliers, with dangerously cool people who own wine shops in North London, with voluptuously bearded East End pop-up bar public school boys, and also with people from the West Country.  It’s been a cocktail of diversity and it has sometimes left us bewildered by the world outside our SW19 cocoon.

It all started as we left the tube and walked around the corner into what smelt like an invisible sweet shop. Oh no, it was just someone vaping.


When was the decision made that huddling under awnings, sucking on what resembles a cross between a pimped biro and a Dr Who prop, that then expels ‘smoke’ that smells of candy floss, was the perfect replacement for smoking? You’re grown-ups – either smoke or don’t smoke – don’t make the Marlboro Man spin in his grave any faster.

The wine tastings themselves were less weird and actually quite interesting in places – there will be wines arriving over time, as fruits of our labours.   The observation we would have is that within the wine trade and perhaps elsewhere, there is such a thing as ‘venue fashion’.  Years ago Excel was all the rage.  Olympia seems to slip in and out of favour.  Currently, clubs on Pall Mall, One George Street, Lindley Hall and Tobacco Docks seem to be venues of choice – each of these hosting more than one event, to the extent that we started to feel like regulars.  Venue fashion, who knew.

And then, returning on the train we would settle down with the local freesheet and read stories that would once more bewilder…

We read about proposals to stop swearing in the Army.

I’m sorry but isn’t swearing and army in the same box as pope/catholic and bears/wood.   Apparently, thank G**, ‘the Ministry of Defence insists it isn’t about to ban swearing in the British army completely’ (BBC NEWSBEAT 23/02/16).

To put it into perspective, The Ministry of Defence, was referring to the use of abusive and insulting language towards new recruits. Bullying is bad.  There are plenty of examples of when things have gone too far in all walks of life.  Swearing is not nice but we do think the playground mantra ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me’ could be applied here.

It’s the Army – there is a distinct likelihood that there are far more dangerous and scary things just around the corner, and we don’t mean people vaping.

Other selected headlines that caught our eye:

Donald Trump cements frontrunner status after big win in Nevada (The Guardian) – oh my…

New Zealand to make its first Prosecco (The Drinks Business) – why?

Cameron ‘put on a proper suit’ jibe at Corbyn at PMQs (BBC) – really, sartorial advice in the Commons?

Woman launches £4.2m legal bid against gastropub after tripping over rope outside venue (The Daily Mirror) – no comment…

Kylie Jenner is ready to retire’: Kylie on being tired of materialism and her Instagram persona (The Daily Telegraph) – yep, we had to google her but we kind of know what Instagram is… having consulted the kids

fuddy-duddy ˈfʌdɪdʌdi/noun informal: a person who is very old-fashioned and pompous

curmudgeon kəːˈmʌdʒ(ə)n/noun: a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person

Meanwhile back in SW19…

Life is far less bewildering for which we are thankful. We buy wine, we sell wine and we make sure the fridges are stocked up.  This week we have taken delivery of a few new wines, three from a well established South African producer Uitkyk, a couple of cases of Chateau Beau Site 2005 from St Estephe, a couple of cases of Christophe Vaudoisey Volnay 2012 and a box of JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling 2011.  All wines that we will more than happily drink ourselves unless you fancy some!

There’s rugby splashed all over this weekend, kicking off tonight with a thrashing in Cardiff and then a mauling in Rome and a pasting in Twickenham tomorrow afternoon. As we mentioned before, we are offering Sambrook’s Battersea Rye (2.79), Park Brewery Killcat Pale (2.59) and Rocky Head Session (2.50) on a 6 for 5 deal.  It’s also mixable so hopefully there’s something for everyone there.

However, should beer not be your thing then we will have some wines open to taste. Looking through our files we were shocked to discover that we haven’t put Wairau River Pinot Gris 2014 (14.99), on the tasting counter since early 2013.  That all changes now – this is the wine we regularly recommend with spicy, asian food but also as a delicious aperitif.  As for red, we will be opening Chateau Montfaucon 2012 Cotes du Rhone (13.99), a wine that we used to sell when we had a shop in Clapham and have only just recently managed to get hold of again.  Wayne’s recent note says ‘nice dark spiced fruits, minerals, long finish, pleasantly warm like a baby Chateauneuf du Pape’.  Come and see if you agree.

That’s it from us, we’re off to buy some skinny jeans and some Banoffee Pie e-liquid for our e-cigs – don’t worry we’ll post it all on instagram later…


NationalDrinkWineDay Cheese, Wine & Rioja

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So how are you feeling this morning? Did you tuck in on #NationalDrinkWineDay? Clearly from a purely professional perspective we felt obligated, with Wayne choosing a bottle of the Salcheto Chianti Colli Senesi (£11.49) and Alex dining with chums and going off-list in the Kew area.

Earlier this week, we found ourselves with more in common with Paul McCartney than we ever imagined possible. All our invites for the Grammy’s were unexplainably lost in the post so, finding ourselves available, we popped out for a quick supplier tasting on Tuesday on the hunt for some new wines. Not sure what Paul got up to.

We also had a meeting with a new cheese supplier for our Cheese & Wine tastings, he brought some very tasty samples that we’re pretty excited about (tough working here sometimes!). Talking of which, we have just two spaces left for the Cheese & Wine on 10th March so don’t drag your feet!

Over the years we have sold, suggested, or just spoken to many of you about Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2008 (£23.99). We’ve long been fans of the estate (Alex even visited them!) so we were dead chuffed to see that this week they featured  in Decanter Magazine’s top 7 Rioja’s to buy under £30: “Luis Valentín and Carmen Enciso’s Reserva is always a delight to taste, and ages brilliantly in bottle. Made entirely from Tempranillo, spread over 14 parcels, it’s floral, elegant and refined with impressive finesse and subtle red fruit flavours. The oak is deftly integrated, too.” 96 Points Drink 2016-2025

Tasting This Weekend

We’re going to tickle our taste buds with a trip to down to Walker Bay in South Africa for the white. Our chums at Barton Vineyards produce their delicious Barton Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2013 (£11.59) amongst other things (Olive oils, honey, holiday lets, alongside other great wines).

Red-wise we’re driving for an hour or two out of Barcelona, heading for the hills behind Tarragona. Montsant is the home of Celler de Capçanes whose Mas Collet 2012 (£14.49), a winning blend of Garnacha, Samsó (Catalan for Carignan), Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, will be standing in the red corner.

Montsant, as I said an hour or two out of Barcelona, is a little special. Curving around the better known Priorat, with which it shares much of the same soils and geography. A vine growing area almost forever, it has only been a DO since 2001, its distinctive qualities earning it a separation from the much larger DO Tarragona. Like in Priorat old vine Garnacha and Carignan rule the roost here, along with some Tempranillo joined by the occasional more internationally famous varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

And finally, yesterday in 1478 the Duke of Clarence was drowned in a vat of Malmsey. We’re not sure if that demonstrates the folly of not using a glass, or just a stunningly memorable way to go.

Valentine drinking: Is it Gran Passione or Meerlust?

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Writing today from a crowded funicular, somewhere above Tignes…

Rosé is pink,

Claret is red,

But if you don’t fancy either,

Have Champagne instead!

Bit of an up and down week for us Park Vintners types. 

We watched all the rugby at the weekend and concluded that last weekend was what is known in retail as a ‘soft opening’.  The real sparks will start to fly this weekend as there are a few games (three, to be exact) where we could see some big scores logged.  If not we might start watching something else, Crown Green, perhaps.

Wayne has been wandering around like a moody teenager, having not made the final cut to join Chris Evans’ Top Gear selected presenters – however the prospect of him growing a mullet and getting into drunken fights has now been avoided, we can only hope.

But the saddest news we received was yesterday.  Wayne rolled up at the door of Norbiton Cheese at 11am, to pick up our stash for our Wine & Cheese tasting, and was greeted by the owner, who looked puzzled to see him.  ‘Hi Bryan, I’ve come to pick up my cheese order that I placed last week’ said Wayne.  ‘I’m sorry Wayne but we’ve closed for business, as of Monday just gone’

And that was that.  It would seem a couple of lucrative revenue streams suddenly closed on them and as a direct result cash flow ceased to flow and business dried up.  We’ve worked alongside these chaps for five years now, they have been a constant source of great cheese, consistently good advice and good humour, and we will miss them greatly.  Another local independent folding up their trestle table for good is no good thing.

Buying the cheese from Waitrose didn’t quite feel the same…


Positive that no one will have forgotten, but similarly positive that if someone has they will be grateful of the reminder, we thought we’d mention that this Sunday, 14th February, is VALENTINES DAY.  Yep, it’s a Sunday, so you won’t be at work or on a business trip (unless you scooped a quick flight to Italy for the rugby), so there really are very few excuses that will wash.  We suggest a card, some croissants and a bottle of pink fizz to set the day up just perfectly.


To help make hard decisions easier we’ve lined up a few wines to taste this weekend appropriate to St. Valentine’s.  Our go to Rosé bubbly has to be our friend Ulrich’s Hoffmann & Rathbone Rosé Reserve 2011 – £38, a stunning, sparkling, English Rosé for that stunning, effervescent rose in your life!

However, should bubbles be banned, we will have a couple of reds open too – Gran Passione Rosso 2014 – £12.99 and Meerlust Red 2012 – £12.99.  Two top notch wines, both at the same price, but which one will you choose?

Wines open tonight and tomorrow, don’t forget to buy a card.

Rosé’s not red,

Sauvignon’s not blue,

I was asked to compose a rhyme,

Now I’ve done two!

Don’t forget to ben zee knees!


Celebrate the fact that February has arrived and we no longer need to be abstemious!

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Thank God that’s over.  January doesn’t make anybody happy.  Except, perhaps, the taxman who takes his pounds of flesh both on a personal level, on a VAT level and on a corporation level.  Any money we earnt in December we got to look at in the account for just over 3 weeks, and then we sent it all off to HMRC.

So, yes, we dislike January.  It sucks any of the remaining festive joy from us, it’s cold and dark and hugely underwhelming.  Even people with birthdays in the month are embarrassed and ashamed of January – how many picnics, barbecues, beach parties or weekends-away did you get invited to last month?  My point exactly.

But February’s cool.  Released from the arbitrary detention of the first 31 days of the year, we emerge into the bright lights of the next 29 to see that there is more to life than Ecuadorean telenovelas, guinea pig for breakfast, lunch and dinner and Pilsener.  It feels like life has restarted.  Having a glass of wine midweek is no longer verboten, the gym is no longer your second home and stoically eating healthily (kale?) is done with.

With this in mind, might we suggest beer?

It may be a tenuous connection but a competition known as the Six Nations starts this weekend.  It involves people playing rugby against one another whilst a few million other people watch them on television, usually whilst drinking beer.  And here’s where we can be of assistance.  It’s only been a week but already we miss the 6 for 5 deal.  So, as a consolation we have decided to do a mini offer.

The Park Brewery Killcat Pale Ale (3.9%) and Rocky Head Brewery Session Ale (4%) will be available at a discount of 16.66% off six (mixable) whilst stocks last.  The Killcat (£2.59) is a refreshing pale ale with the hoppiness and punch of an IPA but without the high ABV.  The Session (£2.50) is brewed for easy drinking but with the hop punch of an IPA.  Similar beers, brewed locally, easy on the alcohol – perfect for the rugby and indeed for any other pastime where beer might help oil the wheels!

For those of you less than interested in oval ball sports drinks, might we suggest wine?

We’ve been having a few late openings of late, all due to our visiting various supplier tastings with a view to refreshing or adding to our range.  These late starts have not been in vain though and we’ll open a couple of our new arrivals tonight and tomorrow.

Vivir Sin Dormir 2014, Jumilla, Spain (£11.99) 100% Monastrell.  100% Organic.  A real favourite of ours, Monastrell.  We have always enjoyed but hadn’t had one we thought fitted the bill until last week when we tasted this.  Monastrell is very much the main grape in Jumilla which is inland, west of Alicante.  Enormously appealing ripe red and spicy black fruits abound, with just a gentle grip of tannin.  Fabulous finish and a typically Spanish red – works with all manner of food choices as well as being fantastic on its own!

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2013 (£25.99) we have been meaning to taste this wine from Kevin Judd for a while now.  Barrel fermented using wild yeasts this is an intricate Sauvignon Blanc with fabulous texture and a lingering savoury finish.  We didn’t write a huge, long tasting note when we tried it – very elegant, two ticks – which is short but says everything it needs to say, we reckon!

So, come by and try some wine and buy some beer and celebrate the fact that February has arrived and we no longer need to be abstemious!

Hang about, doesn’t Lent start next week…