Archive for March, 2016

Easter Weekend

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The scribbled message Alex wrote to me, on a scrap of paper he had clearly salvaged from the bin last night, had definite traces of Yoda:

‘if approaching long weekend, shorter email must you send!’

Frankly, having just got back from holiday, my last couple of weeks have been one long weekend, but I don’t think he was talking about that.  I think he’s referring to the upcoming Easter break which starts this evening and demands that you vacate the office until Tuesday morning, at least.  Hurray, the longest free holiday of the year is here, so the last thing I want to do is distract you with lengthy epistles about upcoming tastings and sporting trivialities.

So, as we haven’t used this format for a while, let’s bullet point things for speed and clarity:

  • Good Friday – we are open from 11am until 3pm
  • Easter Saturday – we are open from 10am until 6pm
  • Easter Sunday and Easter Monday – we are closed
  • Easter Tuesday (?) – we are open, as usual and for the foreseeable…
  • England won the rugby – hooray!
  • Afghanistan very nearly beat England in the cricket – hooray?
  • Further to our Aldi comment last week, we discover Tesco selling a champagne for £7.50
  • That’s only a couple of quid more than the cost of the required volume of grapes to make a bottle of Champagne, off the vine, prior to any vinification
  • We think the supermarkets are just super!
  • Tasting a white and a red this weekend, unusually
  • Champalou Vouvray Sec 2013 – £15.39‘very good indeed’, is what we wrote
  • Belisario Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2014 – £13.49‘hailing from near Ancona, this is a bit special’, is just the start of an exceptional tasting note…
  • Come and see us today, tomorrow and Saturday but definitely not Sunday or Monday…

And that’s it for this week.  Have a lovely Easter, hug your loved ones and stay safe!

Pick up a bottle of wine on the way home, love, it’s been a rotten week…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

“I don’t really understand why journalism has to be so nasty, so sarcastic and intrusive.”  Paul Daniels, February 2005

Pick a card, any card

Just a few weeks after Blankety Blank’s finest moved upstairs, the diminutive host of Odd One Out and Every Second Counts has now gone to join him.

Whilst it was never cool to profess a liking of Paul Daniels, for many of us he was as much a part of our formative years as Crackerjack and Rentaghost, and he was most definitely a TV superstar and a housewives favouriteAlongside a bit of magic here and there, he was most famous in our house for being the rug-topped host of the two shows mentioned at the top.  If you don’t know these programmes, google them, they will provide a perfect time capsule of life, and dress sense, in the 80’s – you’ll like it, not a lot, but you’ll like it!

Pick a winner

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the depressing news this week.  It seems to have been coming at us from all angles: buoyed by an English win in the rugby, we tuned into the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday to watch what turned out to be a masterclass.  Chris Gayle was giving it and the England team seemed overawed.  We’re yet to have a winner at Cheltenham and we’ve tried everything – except backing the favourites.

Stop picking on us

Outside of sport, everybody’s favourite George crushed our spirits on Wednesday.  Well, actually, he didn’t do anything to spirits, beer or cider, but he did let wine duty increase for the first time since 2014.  Interpretations amongst our suppliers vary between a 3 or 4 pence increase in duty, which in fact means 5 pence once you’ve added VAT.  This now means that every bottle of wine on the shelf has more than £2.50 worth of taxes included in the price – makes me wonder what may, or may not, be in that Tempranillo that Aldi are selling for £3.49 (apparently with free delivery too…)

Don’t pick him

Outside of wine, in the real-er world, we still seem to have that other famous wig worrier, Donald Trump, filling our screens.

In the Global Forecasting Service for April 2016, from The Economist Intelligence Unit, nestled between “Grexit” is followed by a euro zone break-up (risk intensity 15) and The rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilises the global economy (risk intensity 12), also at risk intensity 12, sits: Donald Trump wins the US presidential election.  Apparently, his lack of consistent policies, his consistent hostility towards free trade, China, the Middle East, Mexico and everyone in between, mixed with the previously inconceivable fact that he is the Republican frontrunner for Presidential candidate has set some serious alarm bells ringing.

I think, perhaps, we ought to tell someone…

Pick up a bottle of wine on the way home, love, it’s been a rotten week…

And now it’s Friday and we need a drink, I think.  The sun shone yesterday and I had the door open all day until the darkness descended.  And it was lovely.  If it carries on being lovely (not today admittedly) you might well start thinking about Rosé again.  We can help.  The new vintage (2015) of Chateau Aumerade Cru Classé arrived at the end of last week and we believe this is probably the best vintage we’ve tasted.  There’s a bit more bright fruit this year but still with a beautifully dry finish – the three people to have tried it so far have been definitely wowed.

Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2015 Côtes de Provence Cru Classé

The Chateau de L’Aumerade is a 400 year old vineyard in the heart of Provence. Its red soils are rich in minerals, giving it an edge on the quality stakes amongst its neighbours. This edge was recognised in 1956 when the estate was designated “Cru Classé”. A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish. We think they’ve pulled out all the stops for the 60th anniversary of their Cru Classé designation. 

The perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with the Sunday papers and a deck chair.

£13.99 each – Six bottles for £72

Should pink not be your drink right now, why not have a taste of Pauletts Aged Release Riesling 2009 – £18.99.  From Polish Hill River in Clare Valley, South Australia, this is absolutely delicious.  Light straw in colour with an enticing floral, toasty honey nose.  Citrus flavours, particularly lime, pack the palate and some of that floral honey character closes it all off beautifully.

If red is more what you’re seeking then can we offer you a glass of Carlonet 2012 – £17.49?  From the Uitkyk Estate in Stellenbosch, whose Chenin Blanc went down a storm last week, this Cabernet Sauvignon has a cassis laden nose framed with a bit of oak and a palate of fresh rounded, red fruits and less oak character than threatened on the nose.  Very tasty with a supremely long finish – would be great with lamb at Easter, should you be thinking that far ahead.

That’s it from us for this week, Spring starts on Sunday, shorts and flip-flops to the front of the wardrobe, please!

Wayne & Alex

We’ve drunk enough bubbly to fill an Olympic swimming pool!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It seems to us that a variety of sports have forced their way into the newsletter this week.  Early cycling season event, The Race to the Sun (Paris-Nice), had to abandon stage 3 because of snow, which suggests our chums heading to Beaujolais for some bottling action may be a bit chilly!

Warren Gatland seems fairly confident that Wales are going to do a job on England by repeating their World Cup Pool win, but we at Park Vintners are not so sure. The memory alone should be motivation enough, without even counting the inclusion a certain Mr Tuilagi as a super-sub (can we say that, or do we have to get a red top?). At the risk of upsetting some of our readers, it seems to us that George Ford will survive the test and may end up slaying the Dragon!

Maria, Maria, Maria! We’re frankly rather disappointed to be talking about drugs and cheating in sport again. If you can’t do it without cheating, do something else! Maria Sharapova has been busted, proving positive for a banned substance during the Australian Open.  Even if the substance was only banned from the beginning of the year, the list of changes was published at the end of the September, so at the very least she is guilty of naïve negligence!

It seems that the notorious gangster, who had previously died of natural causes (in his garden -with gunshot wounds!), was possibly professionally bumped off!

The hokey-cokey karaoke of the EU continues with Her Maj getting involved (allegedly) this week. It seems the claims on both side get more extraordinary every couple of days, what on earth will they all be claiming by June. Could everyone take a deep breath, have a glass of wine, and just give us some facts?

Before moving swiftly on, we felt we should share some congratulations with you all. Sparkling wine sales in the UK have topped £1 billion annually, for the first time.  Sales over last year are up around 20%, which is enough bubbly to fill an Olympic swimming pool (what a thought!). You have all played your part in this, so pats on backs all round!

Window Work

Since Alex very decoratively filled our window with whisky and King’s Ginger you’ve all got a bit carried away, so much so that we had to buy some more whisky. Then, whilst no one was looking, Wayne snuck our first Irish onto the order form.

Jack Ryan Beggar’s Bush 12 Year Old Single Malt (£51.99), was launched in 2013 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Beggar’s Bush Pub in Dublin. The pub, still owned by the Ryan family, has had a long association with fine whiskey. This whiskey is smooth, with a vanilla sweetness to the fruit, a gentle spice and a very long silky finish. Isn’t St Patrick’s Day on the horizon?

Tasting This Weekend

Well, given that we mentioned Beaujolais already and we just happen to have a new one in stock, I can’t help but think we should give Château de Belleverne ‘La Basse-Cour’ Beaujolais Villages 2014 (£9.99), a quick gargle. A lovely drop of Gamay, with fresh strawberry aromas and a lovely fresh light touch on the palate. We’re suggesting popping a Brie in the oven and tucking in with some crusty bread!

In the white corner, we thought we’d wrap our tasting apparatus round Uitkyk Chenin Blanc 2012 (£12.99), a delicious new drop that we’ve discovered from the Simonsberg mountain in Stellenbosch.

Have a fab weekend!

Croissants and flowers are nice but so, too, is Bollinger.

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘I’m off now’, said Alex as he strode out the door yesterday morning, brimful of self-importance.

It being just past 11am, I was slightly concerned about his work ethic.  ‘I’m off to the supplier tasting up in town, you know, I told you about it yesterday evening, at St Martin in the Fields.’  Aware that he has a habit of making things up and then blaming my not knowing about them on the fact I’m a few years older than him, I let it ride.  The opportunity to have a few hours of peace and quiet in the shop and actually get some serious work done, without puerile, bearded distractions, was too tempting.  So, I let him go.

Clearly there was no tasting going on in the church, it was just an excuse for him to pop into Viandas de Salamanca on the Strand for a ham roll and then to catch a matinée performance of Matilda.  But this was all fine if he was going to be out of the way for those precious few hours.

So what did I get up to in his beardiness’s absence?

First up, coffee, followed by a quick sweep of the shop to clear up any leftovers from Wednesday night’s tasting.  Floor stack back in place, Spotify #ThrowbackThursday on the computer, fridges filled.

Then, between writing a few tasting notes for our new wines, rehearsing my oldest and best jokes on Rufus the dog (If I’ve got three eyes, four ears, two mouths and a sprouting beauty spot, how do I look?  Ruff, he replied) and re-merchandising the Biltong, I had some lunch.  It was already half past two – the day was flying by and I hadn’t yet looked at the BBC website to read about the Arsenal game!

Loved ones and close friends have often queried what it is we do all day and I do hope this snapshot gives you a good glimpse into our busy retail existence.

To continue, when Alex came back at about 4pm, still replete with importance and silly beard, I decided it was time to grab my coat and grab my hat and head out to the pub and some dinner with some old friends.  Another day, another dollar.

However, during his brief sojourn in the shop, micromanager Alex had written me a list of things that I need to mention in this week’s email, along with his patented egg-sucking instruction, so here you go…


Sunday is Mother’s Day and needs to be celebrated.  To forget is inexcusable and rightly so.  A piece of advice, courtesy of Alex, to anyone who is a father.  You may well be reading this, confident that you have organised a card and some flowers for your Mum, and thus see yourself as being off the hook.

However, have you thought about the mother of your children?

That’s right.  It’s an absolute guarantee that your 12 year old son will not have even registered the date, let alone actively done anything about it and now is the time to step in, rather than at 7.30am on Sunday morning.  Croissants and flowers are nice but so, too, is Bollinger.  A good friend of mine has always believed that there is no problem that can’t be solved by throwing the appropriate amount of money at it and, on more than one occasion, we have benefited from his resolutions.  However, to help you all out, this weekend you won’t have to throw as much money at it as you would normally:



So don’t forget, Mother’s Day on Sunday, to forget is inexcusable.


Our ever popular Wine & Cheese evening is on again.  We select four cheeses with a little help from our new pals at The London Cheese Board and we line up some wines to taste alongside them.  It’s a very simple formula but it seems to have plenty of fans!  £20 per person – tasting starts at 8pm.


Occasionally Alex and I are in the same tasting, at the same time, and what tends to result is that we buy some new wines.  This time it was Spain, again.  We love Spain and are constantly finding new wines that we have to try and cram onto the seemingly shrinking shelves.  This week we have listed Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero 2013 – £17.99 which Alex first had in Spain last year and has been hassling to buy ever since; Gran Colegiata Lagrima Toro 2012 – £11.99 which adds a bit of body to the shelf; Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza 2013 – £10.99 purely because of its darn fine label and Nisia Old Vine Verdejo 2014 – £16.99 from Rueda, where all the good Verdejo comes from.

We’ll open the Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza 2013 and the Nisia Old Vine Verdejo 2014 this weekend so why not pop in to try them out – you never know, you might even catch us working!  (well, perhaps not Alex)

Now Rufus, did I tell you the one about the interrupting cow….

Wayne & Alex