Archive for April, 2016

This could be as good as summer gets, so let’s pretend we’re on the Côte d’Azur!

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Unfortunately, you can lay the blame squarely at our door this week.  Confident that the rain on Monday was the last dampness we’d see until September, we decided to write this message on our blackboard outside:

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND – Is this the official start of the Rosé season?  I think it probably should be!

And I think you all know what happened next – hail, snowstorms and stair-rod rain, blue skies interspersed with darker-than-night grey clouds, stiff breezes, all rounded off by a rumbling thunderstorm on Wednesday evening.  Well, at least the storm cleared the humidity…!

Living in the UK has made us stoic when faced with poor weather and it has been a pleasure to be selling plenty of Provence Rosé all week in spite of the climate – it’s the stiff upper lip, it’s the blitz the spirit, it’s the ‘this could be as good as summer gets so let’s pretend we’re on the Côte d’Azur’.

18 Celsius and bright sunshine in Cannes, as I write.

Sand-buried heads

Not sure if you’ve noticed, it certainly has crept up on us, but this time next week we’ll have a new Mayor.

I know, what with all the jangling and jostling over the EU referendum that is taking place on Thursday 23rd June (after the group stages of the Euros have finished, any significance?) we seem to have paid less heed, or perhaps there has been less to heed, about who should be next in line to imprint their vanity project on London.

Ken gave us the congestion charge, oyster cards, brought the prologue of the 2007 Tour de France to our streets and was the incumbent when London got awarded the Olympics.  Nowadays, he’s making headlines for slightly different reasons.

Boris gave us bikes and banned boozing on the buses.  He poked his big stick into the hornet’s nest with his proposals for the Thames Hub Airport and then retreated to Uxbridge to be an MP and perhaps PM-in-waiting.

So who is going to be next?  Some selected candidates:

  • Sadiq was born in Tooting and is Labour.
  • Zac was born in Westminster and is Conservative.
  • George was born in Dundee and was Labour, is now Respect, with a much respected Celebrity Big Brother sideline.
  • Ankit was born in New Delhi, is allegedly the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, and, as leader of One Love, wants to clear air pollution whilst simultaneously legalising pot!?
  • Counterculture icon Lee is 79 years old, was born in Johannesburg and he represents CISTA – Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol – but I’m a bit vague as to what his manifesto is…
  • John is a Polish Prince, standing as the only Independent.

Oh, and did we mention the £10,000 deposit each candidate has provided, only returnable if they get more than 5% of first choice votes?  Or that, to have their election address manifesto published in the Mayoral address booklet, the candidate was required to pay another £10,000.

Ankit and John didn’t submit a mini-manifesto.  Lee did.

Head for the hills

Moving away from politics now, it’s the first May Bank Holiday of the year.  Morris Dancers are busy ironing their hankies, hardy souls are still skiing in the Cairngorms whilst others of you have escaped to Mallorca for sunshine, San Miguel, Sangria and shome sherious shycling Shilvie, honesht…

However, for those of you who are staying in Le Parc de Wimbledon, we will be here to help today until 8pm, as usual, and tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am until 6pm, at which point we will saddle up and disappear into the sunset until 11am on Tuesday morning.

And whilst we’re talking about being closed, we won’t be open until 4pm on Thursday 5th May – we’ve got to go off tasting again, sorry, but you should reap the rewards in the long term.

And whilst we’re talking about tasting, it would be appropriate to mention what we will have open this weekend.

The white is going to be an old favourite hat we haven’t opened since the year before last: Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2014 – £12.99.  The estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Argentina.  Its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes.  This Chardonnay has citrus and tropical fruit notes, gently underlined with vanilla from the oak, which is delicately balanced with both fruit and freshness.  We love it and have done so for almost a decade now – come and see if you can snatch the glass from us!

For the red we have chosen Uitkyk Pinotage 2013 – £14.49 and one of Wayne’s favourites.  From a plot planted up the slopes of Simonsberg Mountain at a mere 350m, not quite as high as the Pulenta, we have a wine with fabulous round ness from its time spent in French and American oak.  Lovely dark fruits and a real velvety character to the tannins make this a real meat lovers wine – it is South African after all!

And with that we must now leave you – it’s been an absolute pleasure and a joy, same time next week?

Always remember, it’s a Marathon not a sprint.

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Always remember, it’s a Marathon not a sprint.

The Queen hit 90 yesterday.  That, my friends, is a marathon.  She’s been in charge for 64 years and doesn’t particularly look like hanging up her white gloves yet.  She hasn’t let anything upset her rhythm – World War II, marriage to Prince Philip, four children, Mop Tops, flares and Cliff Richard – all were left in her wake as she trotted on resolutely.  Everywhere she goes, people shout her name and wave; and she graciously waves back, whilst maintaining a constant forward motion – impressive.

Remember, it’s a Marathon, not a sprint.

400 years is a marathon.  Tomorrow will be the 400th anniversary of the death of a chap called William Shakespeare.  You may have come across some of his works but if you haven’t, you should.  I’m not sure how many other 17th century authors you are currently enjoying, certainly my list is quite short, but big Bill has been consistently top of the list.  Whilst he wasn’t greatly praised in his lifetime, his works have adopted the long game and are showing no signs of diminishing popularity.  That’s impressive.

Remember, it’s a Marathon, not a sprint.

Mind you, 400 years is nothing if your name is St George.  1,713 years ago our Patron Saint shuffled off this mortal coil (thanks for the quote, Mr S.) and yet we still celebrate him to this day.  He’s a dragon killer, he’s the design of our national flag, he’s the protector of the royal family and has been for a good few centuries now and we don’t see that changing.  Raise a glass to our impressive Saint.

Remember, it’s a Marathon not a sprint.

When you jog down from Blackheath and are feeling super relaxed on Sunday morning and everybody is shouting ‘Go on Kelly, you can do it, only 24 miles to go’ remember to smile and wave (like the Queen) and trot on resolutely, remembering the training, remembering the examples set by Betty, Bill and Georgy-boy, remember it’s a marathon.  When you coast through the wall of noise that is Canary Wharf and people shout ‘Come on Laura, you’re nearly there’, look back at them and smile and wave, safe in the knowledge that you’re nowhere near ‘nearly there’ at all, but thankful for the support.  If our Queen can still rule the country, if our Bard can still be a bestseller and if our Saint can still inspire a feast, then you can certainly run 26.2 miles.

Remember, it’s a Marathon not a sprint.

This should be the warning to our Wine & Cheese tasting attendees – last night we held another successful evening of processed grape and processed milk appreciation.  However, when 10 people are confronted with just short of 3.5 kilos of cheese there is only going to be one winner…

The next Cheese & Wine evening is Thursday 26th May at 8pm.  There are half a dozen places left and £20 will save your chair at the table with a few chunks of cheese!


Sadness, once again.  As we remove our headgear for AFKAP at 57 and Victoria Wood at 62 we wonder if it’s just us getting older and thus our heroes aging accordingly, or has this just been a really, really bad year for showbiz?


Unintentionally, this week’s email has become somewhat focused on death and mortality.  However, we are great believers in celebrating life and it is with these thoughts in mind that we have decided on which wines to taste this weekend.

For the white, we have upped the ante a bit this week and added bubbles.  Herbert Hall NV Brut (£28.99) is a cracking English Sparkler from Marden in Kent.  A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, that Matthew Jukes described as “the finest debut English Sparkling Wine I have ever tasted”.

And for the red it was impossible to look past one of our best-selling wines from the Rhone.  Les Vignes du Prince 2014 (£9.99).  When we tasted this wine we thought ‘an inexpensive Rhône red from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape vineyards, what’s not to like?’  Made by Celliers du Prince, a co-op founded in 1924 and still the only one in the Chateauneuf area, this wine is soft and juicy in your glass with plenty of brambly fruits.  Syrah brings just a touch of pepper to the soft berry palate, making it the ideal partner to bangers and mash.

Good luck to anyone running on Sunday, eat lots of pasta have a good night’s sleep and remember it’s not a Marathon, it’s a Snickers…

Thoughts from the wine frontier

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How have you all been faring this week? The sun’s been out and, whilst the tree blossom has looked lovely, it has made our eyes itch.


Alex has been exercising his palate judging in the first round of the International Wine Challenge. The report I had was that some were interesting, some not, and that 130 wines tasted blind is tiring and makes you want a beer.


Elsewhere, we see Record Store day is almost upon us and Wayne noticed that Grace Jones Private Life 12” is getting a re-release. If you have a turntable, he recommends it for the terrific version of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control” on the flipside. (errr, is this a wine newsletter?-Ed.)


Thanks to all tasters for attending our ‘Pinot Round The World’ tasting last night. We think fun was had and the odd surprise discovery made – a burgundy producer making wine in Oregon beat all the ‘real’ Burgundies, according to our tasting panel, and a Pinot from Mornington Peninsula came second.


Despite having voted firmly against inclusion in the range many eons ago, Alex has had a bit of a conversion lately. Spotted leaving the building with a bottle of Portuguese wine under his arm, he strenuously denied it was a half-hearted attempt to join in with what everyone else on the team was drinking.


Wow, Barcelona… out!  And Liverpool, doing another Istanbul….


In the wine world, the ‘En Primeur’ campaign for Bordeaux 2015 is about to kick off. It is, by all accounts, a great vintage; perhaps not as age-worthy as 2010 or 2005 but with the charm and elegance of 2000 or 1985. St. Emilion and Pomerol seem to have been particularly successful, with the southern Medoc showing a bit more power than the north, where they had a bit more rain to give some elegance. Given the public’s recent disenchantment with the entire process, it will be interesting to see how this year’s campaign plays out.

Tasting This Weekend

Given Alex’s recent conversion (though he’s not recanting any previous comments), we thought we’d put on the Luis Pato Maria Gomes 2014 (£11.99) in the white corner, representing Portugal.

Red-wise, we’ll be pouring a drop of the Calusari Pinot Noir (£8.69), from our chaps in Romania, the great value opener at last night’s shenanigans.

That’s all folks!

Panama, Rioja and Little Bird Gin

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What a week we’ve had. Sunshine and rain has been passing us by with regular intervals, neither of us knows what to wear, should we open the door, put a sweater on, open a window, or just carry on reading some more of these 11 million documents!

We’ve been reflecting on how technology can be a force for both good and bad. If you’re a whistle-blower, fitting 11 million documents on a flash drive is considerable easier to get away with than several trolleys loaded with filing cabinets.  So there we have a force for good. If you’re engaged in nefarious asset hiding with your old mate Mo Fonseca then that flash drive is less good.

Rufus has been in a bit of a fug this week. With it being half term, he’s not been at work as much as usual, and Alex caught him on the smartphone the other day furiously swiping right. A bit of doggy dating it wasn’t though, he was just diverting a journalist’s calls. Poor Rufus had been terrified his name would be leaked as a beneficiary in the Boneyard Trust his father had set up, but has now ‘fessed up in the hope that his Luxembourg Winalot holdings will remain a secret.

In an entirely coincidental manner we tasted a delicious rum from Panama this week, we’re investigating the possibility of buying some and bringing it on-shore, so do watch this space!


Saturday sees the Grand National with a new even later start time of 5.15pm. The pundits seem to like last year’s winner Many Clouds to do a RedRum and repeat the feat. We’re not so sure, Red Rum was a bit special. Wayne suggests a small each way on The Romford Pele (about 50/1 at writing) but his tips have been rubbish so far this year. Alex has been talking about Rickie Fowler but that might be in the golf!

Birds – A flock of Little Birds arrived this week.

Little Bird Gin (£33.99) is our very latest discovery. A London Dry Gin from Peckham , so definitely a South London beverage. We loved the grapefruit citrus edge to the properly dry juniper flavours.

Laura from Little Bird reckons it makes the perfect Negroni, which we suspect is her favourite cocktail, given that an unsatisfactory Negroni was what sent her and Tim into the gin business in the first place!

Wines – Tasting for the weekend

We have managed to lay our hands on a small parcel of mature Rioja. Mentoste Gran Reserva 1995 (£22.99) is at the peak of its powers right now, fully resolved and rounded and frankly really rather tasty. When it’s gone….

In the white end of the spectrum we’ll open Seifried Riesling 2014 (£13.99), a really rather delicious little number from Nelson, New Zealand. We think its zippy freshness and stonefruit flavours will be pitch perfect with some sushi and vegetable tempura.

This Evening early close

Apologies folks, but we will be closing at 7pm this evening as we are doing a private tasting off-site.  If you’d like us to come to you and do a tasting at your house just pop in and have a chat with us.

Have a great weekend one and all!

Tasting Wine and other things…

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Diversify they say.  To survive against the forces of e-commerce and supermarkets the smaller independent needs to diversify from the norm and concentrate on a point of difference.  Or so they say.  Mind you when cameras first appeared on phones and hot dogs were first paired with champagne we all laughed and raised our eyebrows.  Nowadays no mobile is complete without a capture option and the success of Bubbledogs is plain to see.

But what’s all this got to do with Park Vintners?  Well, after 5 years of trading as a specialist wine merchant we think it’s time to shake things up a bit.  In the past we have dabbled with the idea of selling cheese but instead ended up with biltong – less smelly and a longer shelf life.  Otherwise we haven’t really diversified from the norm – I think the craziest thing we did recently was list an Irish Whiskey for the first time…

That all changes now.  Those of you better acquainted with the layout of our shop will be aware that we have a couple of office rooms downstairs that are currently just used for storage but will now be put to better use (but not in a Thai Spa way).  For many, many years Wayne has harboured a desire to sing professionally.  Having passed a significant milestone just recently, he decided to carpe diem.  Conveniently, in one of the upstairs flats we have a professional string player who has been keen to back him for a while.  Wayne’s favoured genre is nineties country and western – Billy Ray Cyrus and Shania Twain are regulars on his spotify – and his interpretations are really innovative and unusual!

He first performance ‘Downstairs at 126’ will be this evening from 6pm – come and see what you think, there’ll be wine too!

Not to be outdone, Alex has long bemoaned the fact that whilst there are plenty of places to get your barnet tidied up on Arthur Road, no one is helping out those of us sporting facial furniture.  Having trained as a barber whilst at University to make extra cash when he lived in Italy, he now feels it is time to offer a full shaving and styling experience on Arthur Road, Wimbledon’s haircare strip.

His first bookings at ‘Uncut @ 126’ are today, appointments available from 2pm – come and get a trim today, there’ll be wine too!

Eventually we hope to somehow merge the two alternate revenue streams and create some sort of bespoke barber shop a cappella group currently called A Poor Silly Fad – if that’s not enough diversification for them, I really don’t know what to say to them, on today of all days!

And now in other news

Not a lot to report really – yesterdays end of year stockcount revealed to us how many bottles of wine we opened for tasting over the preceding 12 months and that someone stole a half bottle of champagne in the same period.  Actually not a bad result all in all, so we opened another bottle…

Cricket seems to be in an up phase for now, we are preparing for a downward hurtle anytime now.  Football is back on this weekend and the Pig & Whistle is having a refurb.  That, I believe, is the main topics covered, apart from what we are tasting this weekend.

Tasting this weekend

Representing white wine and Argentina will be Michel Torino Coleccion Torrontes 2015 (£10.49) a wine we have enjoyed for absolutely ages but haven’t shared with you since July 2011! Sadly the importer has ditched it so we bought all we could but it’s a case of when it’s gone it’s gone. Fragrant, crisp and dry and grown at 1700m altitude in Salta not far from the Atacama Desert, we believe it an ideal partner to some South Asian cooking.

Our red tipple Domaine de L’Agly ‘Les Impressions’ 2010 (£17.99) is from gnarly old vines on the edge of the Pyrenees. Rich on the nose with dark fruit and spice aromas, the palate doesn’t disappoint either, with black cherry and spice and a long velvety finish. Smoother than a drive in a roller this is the perfect partner to some lamb!

And it’s goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him – Goodnight!