Archive for June, 2016

Wine School, Sherry Tasting & Always Take The Weather With You

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, I was lying in bed early on Thursday morning, listening to the thunder, listening to the dog scratching away beneath me in a vain attempt at escape, listening to someone snoring, listening to an incessant car alarm, listening to my daughter counting the seconds between lightning and crashing and I found myself pondering, is this rain a good thing?

Being English, we’re used to weather, particularly the damper end of the spectrum.  We can do rain with the best of them and in some perverse way we revel in it.  It’s our weather, we like it as it is and we like the status quo – if we joined a more sunny European climate, well, we wouldn’t be British any more would we.

Equally, if we acknowledge that these storms will continue, are we happy for more and more storms to cross the channel and add more atmospheric pressure to an already overcrowded storm market.

However, there are also plenty of positives to this wet weather.  These storms have originated on the European mainland and have crossed the channel to help us survive.  The rain feeds the earth; the rain clears the atmosphere of its fervent humidity; the rain washes the streets that often we don’t have the inclination to clean.  We have been part of this weather system for a good while now, why change?

But can we feed the earth too much?  If it rains too much don’t we risk becoming too cold?  When does washing the streets become flash flooding and thus damaging to the infrastructure?  How can we control this weather?  Would it be better to stick a big umbrella over the British Isles or would the investment be better used stopping the weather at borders far from our own?

Fitfully, and unresolved, I fell asleep at around three.

In the morning, I took my daughter to school and she put another spanner in the cognitive works.  She likes the stormy weather during the day when she can see it clearly, can understand its positive attributes really quite enjoy it, but at night, uncertainty creeps in, she feels nervous and wants the thunder to go away, now.

Pondering if all this could be seen to be a metaphor for something, I strolled towards the polling station and marked an, albeit uncertain, X in a box…

Sun over the yardarm

We now know what the ‘weather’ is going to be like for the next however many years and thank god that’s all behind us.  If you voted for sun but got rain, even if you voted for sun and got sun, we all need to move on now and focus on what’s really important – wine from Europe.

This weekend sees us wrapping up our two week long Sherry Festival.  We’ve been pouring loads of lovely libations and will continue to do so.  Open for savouring are:

Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Classic Dry Manzanilla

Equipo Navazos Fino En Rama

J.C. Gutiérrez Colosía Amontillado Seco

Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado

Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Classic Oloroso

Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Antique Palo Cortado           

And, now we have it back in stock, from Chipiona,

Bodegas César Florido Moscatel Dorado

Come in, taste them all and marvel at the quality and value erupting from the south of Spain!

Wine School

Guess who’s back, back again, Wine School’s back, tell a friend!

We’ve got dates in the diary, we’ve got spittoons polished, we’ve even got some new jokes…

The course takes place on Wednesdays at 8pm on 28th September and goes through until 9th November – it’s a six week course and the keen calendar watchers amongst you may have already realised that this is a seven week period.  You are correct – Wednesday 26th October is a week off, half term if you will.

Anyway, over the 6 weeks you’ll learn about white wine, red wine, a bit of rosé, faulty wines, a bit of wine and food matching, a jot of sweet wine and of course, sparklers.

If this sounds up your strasse and your boisson du thé then drop us a line and let us know.  It costs £150 per person and payment of this will ensure you definitely have a place at the table.  Go on; learn about wine, you know you want to!

 Wet Weather Warning

Accepting that it’s already weather worthy of Noah and his crew, we thought we would remind you that the Wimbledon Park Primary School Fair is this Sunday from 12pm until 3pm – Alex will be there with a stall, some gin, some wine and perhaps something else, we’ll see.

If that wasn’t enough to keep it raining, the start of the tennis on Monday will ensure umbrella sales rocket whilst parasols plummet.  Remember, it was here that you heard it first.

And now it is time for us to let you get back to work.  Have a lovely afternoon, see you this evening for a glass of something cold!

The Sherry Festival

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week has been fun hasn’t it? Write the a-board put it out in the sunshine, watch the rain wash it off and repeat. Seven or eight times a day.

In the end we left it blank and indoors on Wednesday and changed the window display instead. You may notice as you pop in that it has bottles of sherry, tennis bats and balls. I can already see that question mark forming above your head.

Sherry! Baby! (In your best Austin Powers voice)

The reason for all the sherry is that this week sees our annual celebration of all things sherry. We’ve joined up with the lovely folk from Sherry Wines UK and will have a fabulous selection of Sherries open to taste this weekend. (More below).

Some of you will have heard us wax lyrical about what fabulously complex wines you get from the region north of Cadiz, but we are just the latest in a long line of celebrants.

Famous bowls player and occasional sea captain Sir Francis Drake is known to the Spanish as a pirate, after sailing into Cadiz and making off with 3000 butts of the nectar.  Following this, sherry became so popular that James I had to instruct his cellar master to bring no more than 12 gallons to his table a day!

Shakespeare was a big fan, and Alexander Fleming was of the view “Penicillin can fix the sick, but only Sherry can revive the dead.” These days we find such claims a little less likely.

The Sherry region itself is a land of gently rolling hills where the grapes laze around in the sunshine shooting the breeze, chatting about football, whilst they ripen. Once ripe and harvested, the grapes are pressed, and only the first press (mosto de yema) is considered to be sufficient quality for making sherry. One hundred kilos of grapes will produce around seventy litres of liquid.

After fermentation the wines are classified, the lighter wines are fortified to 15° and go on to become Fino or Manzanilla styles after ageing under flor.

Flor? – Flor is the name given to a thick layer of yeast that forms naturally on the surface of the delicate styles.  This yeast imparts the distinctive flavour to Fino. The Flor needs fresh wine in order to survive and this fresh wine is added by the use of a solera system that also gradually blends the wines of different vintages together. The flor, being a thick layer on the surface, also protects these styles from oxidation, which is why the lighter wines are chosen for this style.

The fuller, more robust wines from the fermentation process are fortified  to 17.5° and placed into sherry butts to undergo aerobic aging (no leotards, it is the real name of the oxidative process!) This style will produce Oloroso, and no flor will form because of the higher alcohol (16° is its limit).

The only way to learn more without eye ache is to come and see us and put your tasting tackle through it’s paces…

Weekend Tasting – Sherrytastic

Fernando de Castilla Manzanilla (£7.99 37.5cl) a Fino in essence, but ageing by the coast at Sanlucar de Barrameda gives it the salty tang of a Manzanilla. Not to be confused with chamomile tea.

Equipo Navazos Fino En Rama (£10.99 37.5cl) an unfiltered Fino of impressive complexity. “Serious stuff – much more serious than most wines at this price.” – Jancis Robinson,

Gutierrez Colosia Amontillado Seco (£21.99 75cl) this undergoes both forms of ageing process, as a fino for 3 years and then at least 5 years in the oxidative process. Wayne likes this one, really enjoying the nutty character.

Fernando de Castilla Oloroso (£14.99 75cl) no flor involved here, just oxidation over the course of 12 years. More viscous in the mouth, yet still dry it presents spicy, rich dark fruit notes and a long pleasantly warming finish.

Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado (£30.99 50cl) ageing in a barrel for 20 years, having started life under flor before additional alcohol added to kill the flor allowing oxidative ageing. Nutty, caramel notes in the nose but the palate is bone dry and deliciously complex. Jamón Jamón!

Fernando de Castilla Antique Palo Cortado (£34.99 50cl) a real treat. This rarity starts life as a Fino until the flor goes wrong. Luckily for us when the flor went wrong here it didn’t turn into sherry vinegar but into this rare beast that has hung out in a barrel for 30 years just becoming awesome.

That seems to be a bit to be going on with so come in, have a taste and tell us what style you’ll be sipping through Wimbledon!

Wine, Wandle and Dragons

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The Q, The F, The WGD, The C, The R, The DBR, The MASP, The WRHRSP.  Not a great Scrabble hand, an even worse selection for Countdown’s letters round.  However, we need to discuss all of the above, anagram suitability or not.

The Q

Yep, this weekend we’re all officially celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.  Since neither of us was able to attend her shindig on 21st April as we had already arranged a Cheese & Wine Tasting for that evening, we will be raising a glass or two this weekend to her good health.  If anyone is having a street party as a celebration, and is looking for some suitable refreshment, we can happily offer you a 10% discount to help you on your way – Melrose, Wellington, Havana are partying, anyone else?

The F

What could be more patriotic and Red, White and Blue than the start of our home nation battles at Euro 2016.  Well, perhaps not blue and, of course, there’s no dragon on the union flag, but you know what I mean.

Wales v Slovakia and England v Russia on Saturday, Poland v NI on Sunday – plenty of opportunity to raise a glass or two.


Gin lovers of the world rejoice as World Gin Day returns for its EIGHTH year on Saturday 11 June 2016!!  Not quite sure what this means in real terms but I would suggest juniper is involved.  As ever we’ll have Little Bird, Dodd’s and the rest of the gang open for a sniff and a swirl or two.

The C

And perhaps the end of the C.  Lords is hosting, the sun has been shining and Nick Compton has signed off from his England career.  Will the match last the weekend?  Nice to see the D of E there on Thursday, clearly avoiding any involvement in seating plans for Liz’s big lunch on the Mall.

The R

First Test in the Rugby against Australia – 11am our time on Saturday, perfect excuse for a glass or two…


There’s Dragon Boat Racing in the park this Sunday.  Organised by The Really Helpful Club, and with a variety of teams involved, we suspect the team from Bounce Gym will probably win but it will undoubtedly be very wet and wild and is free to watch.

Red, White & Blue tasting this weekend

As ever, the weekend is a great excuse to open a bottle or two and have a glass or three.  We’ll be opening suitably patriotic wines, in as much as there’ll be a red, a white and a beer with a blue label.

The red will be Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny 2015 – £15.99 – This is the go to address for Saumur reds.  If, like us, you love a crunchy medium bodied red this is the top dog.  Beautifully aromatic on the nose, dark fruit and gentle spice in the mouth with an elegant, long and juicy finish.

The white will be Domaine Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2014 – £11.99 – always a top notch drop and unbelievably we haven’t had it on tasting for two years.  Felines Jourdan are arguably the best producers of Picpoul and this vintage is deliciously fresh and dangerously quaffable.  Summer in a glass, or two…

And the beer?  Sambrook’s Wandle Ale – £2.79, of course.  Our original ale, the first beer we sold here, the backbone of our beer range.  If you’ve not tried it yet, try it now.  We’re open at 10am on Saturday so plenty of time to stock up before sport commences!


It might just be one of us here on Saturday.  The London World Naked Bike Ride is taking place and Wayne’s enjoyment of pedal power is well chronicled – a Union Jack and a smile is all he will need, and just perhaps a glass or two…

Bottoms Up!

Strikes, Euros and Wine

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

You can imagine my surprise when wandering around the shop, putting deliveries away, wondering what I might choose for a #winewednesday tipple, when a customer wished me a nice weekend. Weekend? I thought possibly someone had their days mixed up. Turns out it was me, as much as I love a Bank Holiday Monday it does confuse the week a little.

With just a week to go before the Euro’s kick off in Paris, it seems most of France is on strike. The oil refineries, fuel depots and railways are all having their difficulties, but it appears the airport workers have cancelled their plans to strike. It is unclear if this is because they couldn’t get to work anyway!

Whilst we’re on the subject of footie, it seems transfer time for managers is upon us. Monk is in at Leeds, Di Matteo is in at Aston Villa and Pecchia (Benitez’s No.2) is out at Newcastle, heading for the sunshine and opera in Verona. Koeman maybe in at Everton but maybe not.

In tennis news, for that time is creeping up on us too, Andy Murray has Stan Wawrinka in the way of the French Open final probably against Djokovic who’ll have played everyday this week! As for the ladies, difficult to imagine it won’t be Serena.

In proper sports, legend Eddy Merckx seems to be in a spot of bother over the alleged “sweetener” to a contract as supplier of bicycles to the police in Anderlecht in 2006.

The company building the velodrome in Rio has lost the contract after filing for bankruptcy protection. The velodrome, already with one cancelled event in its history, is 88% finished now with just logistical issues in laying the track. Nothing important then! Rio’s city government expects to be finished in time.

I can’t finish here without mentioning The Derby on Saturday. Our tips last year were fairly useless and I’m slightly nervous of saying it won’t be Frankie Dettori’s mount (Wings of Desire) just to be proved wrong again, but…I think Ulysses will beat him and Humphrey Bogart may be worth an each way!

Cheese and Wine

Thursday 23rd June at 8pm. Only 2 places remaining! £20 per person.

New or Back in stock

We had a couple of bit’s missing but just to let you know…

Mimi Pink NV (£12.99) is back in stock (6 for the price of 5 if you’re entertaining!)

Southern Dawn Sauvignon Blanc (£10.49) has wended its way up from Marlborough too.

Arndorfer Hand-Crafted Gruner Veltliner (£13.99) is the wine I was quoted on so eloquently the other week. Don’t tell Alex, he doesn’t know I’ve bought any yet!

Tasting This Weekend

I’ve had a look at the Beeb’s weather app and it seems to promising warmer weather and a spot of sunshine over the weekend, no sign of it yet out of the back window (Wayne’s weather app!). Nonetheless we shall through caution to the wind and choose a couple of wines suitable should cooking be done in the garden!

In the white corner Talmard Macon Uchizy (£14.99) a cracking unoaked white from Southern Burgundy that we think will bring its own sunshine if the real thing doesn’t show.

Red wise Some Young Punks Passion Has Red Lips (£13.99) is a stonking blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from McLaren Vale in Australia will go with all manner of char grilling!