Archive for May, 2016

Sunshine, Cidre and Sesti

Friday, May 27th, 2016


Fellow Wine Lovers,

Less than seven months to Christmas.  Not had a day this year nice enough to wear shorts for the duration.  Yet to sit outside the pub for longer than twenty minutes before admitting defeat.  That suncream purchase seems a bit premature.  Watching cricket last Saturday wearing a beanie and two coats, sitting on the bonnet of the car to steal the engine warmth.

Come on, snap out of it, Alex, be positive.

Midsummer looming, Maypole dancing, mead by the bonfire, silly shenanigans.  Half term next week, hurray.  Thunderstorms predicted, and we all know that thunderstorms are tropical creatures.  Tropical storms lead to clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine – FACT.  Bank holiday weekend in the offing, barbecues and Rosé, blitz spirit.

Plus, the good news is that having a glass of grog makes us happier, no matter what.  There are a number of articles doing the rounds this week all reporting on the Mappiness app and the research done by some clever chaps at University of Kent over the last 5 years or so.  I won’t regurgitate the article that I read, as they wrote it far better than I ever could, ( but I will comment on its findings.

Apparently, drinking with friends makes us happy – who knew?  However, there is a chance we were already quite happy before we met our friends, so the uplift in joy is not huge but nonetheless worth mention.  However, the really interesting bit of news was that our innate happiness levels increase proportionally more when we have a drink whilst doing something we don’t necessarily enjoy.  Commuting and waiting were mentioned here as boring pastimes improved by a cheeky snifter.

So, our analysis of this data tells us that for that glass of wine to make us most happy this weekend we need the weather to be mediocre and underwhelming rather than charming and bright!

But the weather is not going to make us put our plans on hold: Wayne’s off in a tent to Brighton, flip flops and sunglasses already packed, confidently.  Alex is off to Devon, waterproofs and board-games packed – he’s been before…

One thing is for sure, we will certainly be drinking…. Wayne has lined up some cheeky campfire reds whilst Alex has his eyes on some wines with a bit of age on them, a serious Italian white and a few cheeky guzzlers too.  He is also muttering about making his own version of Pimm’s – if the sun shines we’ll be happy, if it rains we’ll be happier, allegedly, but only if we start drinking…

But what will you be drinking?

Perhaps we might be able to help by putting a few things on tasting.  We will start proceedings this weekend by opening a bottle of the fabulous Cidre Breton (£5/litre).  Slightly cloudy, seriously habit forming and extremely tasty – taste it, taste it again and before you know it, the bottle will have gone!

For a white, how about the new vintage of Leira Seca Vinho Verde 2015 (£10.99) Alvarinho and Trajadura doing what they do best – producing a ripe, soft stone-fruit character wine with oodles of appeal.  The red is slightly more warming, in anticipation of Wayne’s night under canvas – Sesti Monteleccio 2013 (£17.99) organic, biodynamic and made by an astronomer but don’t let get in the way – they are one of Montalcino’s finest producers, their Brunello being highly regarded and priced accordingly.  This is what we drink whilst we are saving up for the Brunello, and it always makes us happy, no matter whether we are waiting for a train or having a dinner party…

As always on Bank Holiday weekends, we’ll be closing at 6pm on Saturday evening and will remain closed until Tuesday morning.

Lastly, thanks to all who came to last night’s Cheese & Wine Tasting. Who knew the Norwegians made such tasty goat’s cheese?

The next one is Thursday June 23rd at 8pm. Tickets as usual £20 per person call us on 020 8944 5224 or pop in to book your place.

Be Happy all weekend!

AFC Wimbledon, Gin and Kangaroos

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s no cake walk, wine retailing.

We work slavishly from the ungodly hour of 11am each day (except Sundays of course, which are reserved for golf and cycling); we spend the whole day chattering away, often about wine, but also often about sport, BREXIT, amateurish car-parking, Gin, holidays, what’s for lunch, beer, families, the future, the past and music; and then, perhaps, a customer might bravely cross the threshold and briefly dip into our conversation about whether there is actually any need for Bentley to have built an SUV before interjecting:

‘err, actually I was just wondering, whilst I was here, if I might get some help choosing a bottle of wine please?’

And we leap into action like scalded/scolded kangaroos.

Sometimes, we have to take our chatting elsewhere – for example, Wednesday this week, we paddled up to Home House in Portman Square, purely to taste some different wines and enjoy a couple of jamón rolls.  In the evening, we threw our palates onto the tracks and tasted a dozen organic/biodynamic/natural/weird but interesting/unusual/occasionally pettillant wines with our pal Phil from the sulphite free fields of Raynes Park – and then repaired to The Alex in Wimbledon to freshen our tastebuds with some chemical-laden lager.  Tasting note of the night was, undoubtedly, Wayne’s proclamation about a Gruner Veltliner that particularly tickled his fancy – ‘that’s right dangerous that, you’d need at least a six box for the weekend!’  You can take the boy out of Essex but….

And still we work slavishly.  We write tasting notes, we read wine reports, we evade sales calls from fictitious energy companies and we surf the web.  Surfing the web may not sound like the work you do but we take it seriously and dedicate much time to it – if we didn’t we wouldn’t be nearly so well informed or able to feed you titbits such as:

  • Möet & Chandon launches Ice Impérial Rosé, “fresh and vibrant when served over ice and sure to be the drink of the summer season” – oh boy, not this again
  • Muirfield will not stage another Open Championship as they vote to bar women members and remain men-only – really? Did they really vote that way?  Dinosaurs
  • 21,408 tickets available to AFC Wimbledon fans keen to watch their League 2 play off final against Plymouth Argyle on 30th May – that’s almost 4.5 times the capacity of Kingsmeadow, COYD!

But perhaps most excitingly, we found this gem on Facebook:

  • The Goring Gin Garden – A Living Bar + Gin Safari in London – it would seem that the wild men of Northumberland, and specifically those charming chaps at Hepple Gin, have got themselves a London gig! In their own words:

We’ve created a living bar, complete with sustainable living walls and roof in the hotel’s large private garden that will be open from Wednesday 1st June for the summer months ahead. To help bring this mantra to life the garden has been planted with English juniper, Douglas fir, lovage, blackcurrant and other key botanicals which form the very distinctive Hepple flavour – guests will be able to plunge themselves into an immersive gin safari around the garden, tasting and smelling each botanical –  from the plant to the glass.

It’s only half an hour from the shop to Victoria, and a couple of minutes walk to the Goring Hotel from there – sounds like a great excuse for a roadtrip, who’s with me?

Sad News

Sadly, unexpected passing is not just happening in the music business.

This week we have learnt of the sudden deaths of two of our wine producers:  Peter Neill, the energy, the passion, the owner of Barton Wines from South Africa and Aimé Guibert, the founder of Mas de Daumas Gassac, once referred to by restaurant guide Gault & Millau as “A Lafite in Languedoc”.  Their wines and their passion will live on.

So, it seemed appropriate for us to open a wine from each of these estates.

Barton Sauvignon-Semillon 2013 (£11.59) is a blend of 64% Sauvignon Blanc and 36% Semillon from Walker bay.  We find Sauvignon can sometimes feel a little one dimensional but add a hearty slug of Semillon and the wine fills out splendidly.  Weighty, with a touch of tropical fruit, a nice zing and a long dry finish.

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2013 (£29.99) 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Tannat, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Nebbiolo, 2% Dolcetto, , room for any more?, oh yes, 2% Pinot Noir and 2% Malbec.  Not sure why he didn’t put any Grenache or Sangiovese in but even so, it’s one hell of a blend.  Bordeaux with a splash of Barolo and a drop of Burgundy almost.  Lovely and elegant with oodles of fruit character.  Delicious now but will age for 20+ years, should you manage to keep your hands off it.

Corks will be unscrewed at about 5pm.  Come and raise a glass to AFC.  Raise a glass to Peter and Aimé.  Raise a glass to absent friends.  Raise a glass!

Alex is keen (as always) to open a bottle of sherry, so we’ll indulge him!

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, just when you thought it was safe to answer the door again, voting over, a new mayor installed and all the campaigners put back into the broom cupboard, a thing called Brexit rears its ugly head.  Out of the broom cupboard come the campaigners, blinking in the sunlight wondering what rosette they are supposed to wear. In? Out? What colour should it be and what do we tell people if they answer the door?

Meanwhile, the Leave it Out camp have had a rather shrill, shouty outburst at ITV over having asked Nigel of the Grassroots Out camp to come onto the telly and be interviewed with Dave from the Vote Me In team.

It seems Vote Me In Dave and his chum, Recession George, are rather reluctant to do the big BBC debate at Wembley because they’re worried the crowd might be a bit rowdy.

Meanwhile, Bring It On Boris says he’s happy to fight debate with anybody. He’s part of the Leave It Out campaign but we think he may also have other ideas he’s not told us about yet.

Those are all the key facts in what is, quite possibly, the most important vote the country has had in a generation. I suspect we’ll return to the Hokey Cokey debate before June 23rd and especially if we hear anything useful that might inform one’s voting intentions.

Elsewhere, we heard of some rudeness during last year’s Chinese state visit. Claims that this was a result of Prince Philip claiming to be the real Hong Kong Phooey are completely unfounded.

In other news, it appears that the IOC is under a bit of heat over “irregularities” concerning Tokyo 2020 and $2 million.

Whilst we’re talking about “irregularities”, the Electoral Commission has gone to court for a disclosure order regarding Conservative spending at the last election. Oops.

We’ve had a good squiz through the news on the wine front and found it very lacking. We could, of course, mention the welcome return of Tedeschi’s Amarone 2011 (£34.99) or the pile of Leira Seca 2015 (£10.49) Vinho Verde that was wheeled through the door this morning (finally!), or even that weird, slightly fizzy white from San Sebastian (Ameztoi Txakoli 2015 £14.29) but that just seems a bit salesy.

Tasting This Weekend

Alex is keen (as always) to open a bottle of sherry, so we’ll indulge him with Equipo Navazos Fino En Rama (£10.99)Full yellow colour. Mellow, slightly salty, nutty nose with fine citrus and spice notes. The palate is fresh and tangy with nuts, herbs and some spice. Very attractive and quite elegant; nothing sticks out. It has lovely depth of flavour but it’s not too salty or tangy. 92/100.Jamie Goode,

On the red front, we’ll be pulling the cork on Maison Des Bulliats Regnie 2015 (£12.99). A firm favourite with all of you, and a stalwart in the range we’re glad the new vintage has arrived.

That’s all folks!

Rose, Sunshine and Wine

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’ve got Wayne to thank for bringing the sunshine back, though I wish he’d shut up about it raining in Mallorca. Anyway there is some Rosé in the fridge (I hope that doesn’t put the kibosh on the weather again!).

The sharp eyed amongst you may have noticed we were a bit late on Thursday. We had a quick trip up the road to Olympia for the London Wine Fair. We put our palates through a series of tests involving English Sparkling, Champagne, Red, White and Rosé wines, finishing with a quick trawl through some Rums. A very satisfying 2.5 hours catching up with a few friends old and new. Watch this space for a few new arrivals!

In wine news this week Italian luxury fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo are suing a retired American football player for naming his winery after himself. They claim that Vincent Ferragamo is confusing consumers by selling his “inferior” award winning Cabernet and Sangiovese blend (Gold Medal Los Angeles Wine Competition). The estate they own in Tuscany (formerly owned by the Medici’s) markets their award winning wine (Silver Decanter World Wine Awards, Bronze International Wine Challenge) under the name Il Borro. We’re confused.

Tasting this weekend

On the red front we have been hankering after a glass of Domaine Wachau Blauer Zweigelt 2013 (£15.19). Medium-bodied with dark fruits and soft tannins, we think it’ll be sehr gut with that butterflied leg of lamb you’re barbecuing. Red from Austria, whatever next?

Staying with mainstream wine producing regions, we’ll pop down the A12 for the white. Near Chelmsford you’ll find New Hall Vineyards Bacchus 2014 (£12.99) a lovely fresh white that is perfect as an aperitif, or a cheeky partner to that big prawn brochette you have up your sleeve!

Alex is still on about his rosé, he has made a big pile of it by the counter. Sixty years as Cru Classé, Chateau Aumerade is our preferred Provence. Deliciously light and dry, pale in glass and is £13.99 a bottle or £72 for a six box. Chillin’ out in the fridge!

That’s us for this week pop in, say hi, have a taste and have a great weekend!