Archive for July, 2016

Gin, Quizzes and Counoise

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Occasionally, we have days where we are less busy.

Commonly referred to as late July, August and January, these are the days when we try and get stuff organised for the days when we are run off our feet.  Within this less busy category of days, we have a small subset known as ‘days when we really, really aren’t very busy at all’, which often tend to be Tuesdays.  It’s important to clarify here that not being very busy isn’t a reference to sales but more a reference to what we do between customer visits.  We haven’t any upcoming tastings to organise, all of our suppliers are stuck in traffic jams outside Dover so there are no wines to be tasted and our VAT paperwork is all up to date.

This Tuesday was one of those days.

We’d read the news, we’d read the wine news, Alex had had a haircut, Wayne had updated his Strava and still it was nearer the start of the day than the busier finish.  We’d researched once more the Clinton /Trump conundrum and decided that Hillary just edges it, providing there isn’t a sustained terrorist attack on the US before November in which case Donald being in power will probably be the least of our problems.  We’d argued about drug cheating in relation to Russian attendance at the Olympics and discovered that, somewhat to our surprise, that we had unusually different points of view.  We moved swiftly on from that debate.  We read about Hepple Gin in the press again ( ) and thus fixed a date to go to The Goring for cocktails – in about 10 days time, if you fancy joining us?

By now we were looking for new avenues of entertainment and discovered the Wine Quiz on the Decanter website.  If you’ve not had a go, they are great distraction for five minutes, or an hour and five minutes depending on your workload!

If you fancy beating our scores, I can tell you we got 80% on ABC, South of France and Pinot Noir, 90% on Italy, Rosé and Syrah/Shiraz, and a rather startling 100% on Sauvignon Blanc.  Let us know how you get on – there are lots more quizzes on there and there are a lot more Tuesdays!

Summer Saturdays

Please note that throughout the month of August our Saturday hours will be 10am-7pm.

Tasting this weekend

Stung by the fact that we seem to know more about Sauvignon Blanc than Syrah, we have chosen our wines carefully this week.

On the white table we have Willi Haag Braunberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 2013 – £16.79 which we can guarantee comes from the Mosel, is made from Riesling and is a deliciously palate pleasing 8.5% alcohol.  We don’t know anything more about it because, well, you know, it’s not Sauvignon.

For the red, we have Château de Montfaucon 2013 – £13.99 which, the label assures us is Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise – I wonder what percentage we’d get in a quiz about Counoise – and hails from the Rhone valley.  Someone once likened it to a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape even – it was Wayne, I believe.

So, without a Sauvignon in sight, I wish you fair passage and hope to see you for a quick tasting later on or tomorrow…. Surrey v Kent at the Oval T20 tonight – should be a Spitfires win, as usual, can’t wait!

Would you like me to bowl a piano and see if you can play that? – Merv Hughes (allegedly)

Wine School, Politics and Sam Allardyce

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Normally we’d start with a little pre-amble, mentioning perhaps an event from the sporting calendar, poking fun at a politician for some mild mishap, why we’ve even made fun of foreign politicians in the past. This week though is a tough one. So much has happened in the week since we last spoke that we just don’t know where to start!

We have a new Prime Minister, whose superpower seems to be impersonating previous Prime Ministers. It’s not Sam Allardyce.

The 145th Open at Royal Troon has been won by Henrik Stenson with the lowest 72 hole score ever recorded in the history of the Open!

Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary!

There has been a failed coup in Turkey. It wasn’t Sam Allardyce.

England lost the 1st Test to Pakistan by 75 runs.

There have been 18 stages of this year’s Tour de France. Eight (yes 8!) have been won by a British rider (none of them Sam Allardyce), three by Peter Sagan, and none by a Frenchman.

Melania Trump autocued her way to becoming a laughing stock, after channelling more of Michelle Obama’s spirit than the press corps thought decent without being called plagiarism.

Michelle Obama appeared in James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, rapping with Missy Elliot and singing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” in a move that has surely struck fear into whoever is the next first lady (Melania or Bill?).

The Republican convention has been a bit feisty with booing, walkouts, scuffles and calling Hilary Clinton a witch. It seemed like a 12 year olds birthday party with too much sugar and no adults present!

The Labour Party is having a leadership contest because none of the MPs like their leader, who appears most likely to win. It’s not Sam Allardyce.

England has a new football manager. It is Sam Allardyce.

I guess by now you can see our problem, a news packed week that seems quite ridiculous enough without our input.

Glass of wine anybody?

This week we thought we’d swing down to Italy for a bit of sampling. We’ll start off in the white corner with the sunshine laden Sicilian beauty that is Cantine Cellaro’s Luma Grillo (£11.59). When we tasted it we found candied citrus fruits, some minerals, and a lively crisp dryness of finish. What do you think?

Red wise we’ll be a bit further north up near the lakes listening to opera drifting in on the breeze from Verona. Our glass will be filled with Monte del Fra’s Bardolino (£11.49) a deliciously fresh and summery red that Alex is threatening to gently chill.

Back to School…

New Term starts Wednesday 28th September. £150 for the six weeks – full details attached. Don’t miss out, book it now before you head off, so that you’ve got something in the diary when the holiday blues kick in

That’ll be us for the week, we’re hoping for more of this sunshine stuff now that we’ve found out it’s so lovely!

Gin and Bitters

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I know, I know, in spite of our successful weather predictions for last weekend we have decided to stay in the wine game for the foreseeable – we have the reassurance that we can do successful forecasting if needed but frankly the wine business is far more fun.  Just yesterday in fact, Alex spent 3 hours clearing up after the upstairs flat flooded and proceeded to pour water into the shop via the light fittings – you don’t get that sort of fun at the Met office!

But today it’s business as usual in many respects, with a bit of proper excitement this evening which I’ll get to later.

When we first opened the shop in 2010, we only sold wine and champagne and a bit of port.  Well, actually when we first opened the shop we only sold wine because everyone was a bit suspicious of the beardy man and the one with the earring, but eventually we managed to persuade you all to hit the bubbles and fortifieds.  As time went on we added a few beers into the range and 3 spirits – a whisky, a gin and a brandy.  Caution was very much our watchword.

Fast forward to 2016 and where previously we struggled to fill a shelf with spirits, we now have over 30.  Our increase in range, as is often the case, is led by you.  In the past, cocktails you made at home would basically involve a clear spirit and a quinine based mixer.  And a slice.  Things have moved on and you have become more adventurous and, as a consequence, more demanding.  Five years ago we wouldn’t have known where to lay our hands on Orange Bitters but now we sell them.

And we also sell other fun things.  We have two Italian delights from Antica Distilleria Quaglia – a Vermouth Rosso and a Bitter.  The Vermouth is deliciously tasty with a lovely herbaceousness – leagues ahead of the branded stuff we all tried as teenagers.  The Bitter is also a little bit awesome – nestling midway between the sweeter style of Aperol and the bitterness of Campari, we find it extremely moreish which makes it a blessing that it comes in a litre bottle.  Oh, and the Orange Bitters I mentioned earlier – made by a company called By The Dutch, these are aromatic and intense and come in a groovy little 5cl bottle with a pipette to help add a dash of science to your cocktailing.

By The Dutch Orange Bitters – £8.99

Berto Vermouth Rosso – £14.99

Berto Bitter – £21.49

Little Bird Gin

‘Small batch.  Cocktail strength Gin.  South London.  Seductive pink-grapefruit, fresh juniper, zesty citrus, dazzling ginger.’

That’s how Little Bird describe themselves on Twitter.  However, if you want to learn more about this fantastic Gin from Peckham, pop in this evening, as we are honoured to have Laura, the driving force behind the gin, in the shop.  She’ll be chatting and pouring and who-knows-what-else from sometime after 5.30 and she really is a lot of fun – what better way to start a weekend than with a gin with a ginmaker and a Negroni aficionado!

Saturday Tasting

As we’re all about Gin on Friday we’ll save opening any wines until Saturday.  When we do open them they will be two South African wines that we have sold since we opened but very rarely taste.

Percheron Chenin-Viognier and Percheron Cinsault (£8.19) have both consistently out-performed their price point over the years and both have a very loyal fanbase – this is your chance to join the club!

Wine School

Places are filling, get it booked before the summer engulfs you!  £150 for the six weeks, term starts Wednesday 28th September – full details attached

That’s all from us for now – just make sure you remember to pop in and see Laura this evening and drink some Gin – definitely an opportunity not to be missed!

Weather, wine school and tennis

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’ve long believed that, should the world become teetotal and there be a need for us to find other employ, the realm of weather forecasting wouldn’t be a bad place to start.  We spend more time than you might imagine, even as Englishmen, discussing the current weather, the future weather and telling witty tales of weather we have enjoyed a great deal in the past.  We are, as you can tell, very, very Rock ‘n’ Roll.  In our defence, the weather does have a direct impact on our business – a rainy Monday in May yields few customers but stick a bit of sunshine in the sky at around 6pm and suddenly the gym seems less enticing than a glass of Rosé in the garden.

So, with this in mind we looked at our two most regular influencers – the BBC and Accuweather – to see what might be going on this weekend.  As we all now know, weather forecasts are much like inspections led by Hans Blix – they’re interesting studies but only of relevance if they say what we want them to say.  So we gave the weekend weather the Blair treatment:

Friday 8th July

Accuweather – 22°/14°C – Partly sunny, a few showers

BBC – Rather cloudy with showery rain, perhaps heavy at times, especially across northern parts in the morning. Becoming drier in the afternoon with some brighter spells possible later.

Park Vintners – Bright and Sunny

Saturday 9th July

Accuweather – 23°/17° – Variable clouds; breezy, humid.

BBC – Cloudy and muggy but most likely dry on Saturday, and turning breezier.

Park Vintners – Nice and warm with a refreshing breeze

Sunday 10th July

Accuweather – 22° /15° – Partly sunny with a shower

BBC – Rain overnight and muggy conditions should clear during Sunday, becoming fresher with sunshine and scattered showers into Monday.

Park Vintners – Sunny sunshine Sunday

As you can see, it’s going to be an absolutely glorious weekend, with sunshine in abundance – a weekend that Alex and I will nostalgically discuss for years to come!

Sunny weekend = sunny wines!

In order to fully appreciate the glorious weather we thought we should get some wines open.  ON a complete whim last week, Alex decided to buy some Edelzwicker.  I know, sounds uncomfortable.  Anyway, he has been rattling on about this style of wine for more years than I can bear to recall, ever since he had a bottle in his father-in-laws back garden.  It was, apparently, a beautiful summers day and this quaffing blend from the Alsace (Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Riesling) went down a treat over lunch.  I told you we had weather related anecdotes.  Anyway, long story short, he saw some for sale, fell foul of a salesman’s pitch and a pretty label and before I could stop the cheque, he had 4 dozen bottles sitting in the shop.

Pretty label or not, it is delicious and I already think we might need to order more – Edelzwicker Vin d’Alsace £9.99.

Pretty as the white is, I feel we might need to have a red with a bit of backbone to go with all these barbecues we’ll be lighting over the next few days.  Bodegas Farina Gran Colegiata Tinto Roble 2012 – £11.99 – from Toro to the west of Ribera del Duero in Spain, this has lovely berry fruit, some nicely evident tannins and a gentle touch of oak.

Wine School

We have finished our tastings for the summer now, and will be taking it easy over the summer, checking our notes and rehearsing for the new term in September.  Our 6 week Wine School jumps back to life on Wednesday 28th September at 8pm.

Over the course you will learn about and taste around 6o wines.  You’ll fall in love with Chardonnay once more, discover life beyond Malbec and be able to spot a corked wine from 5 paces.  You’ll do a lot more than this obviously and all for only £150.

Sign up today, before you go away.

Other news

I think you all know the news.  Tennis is on still.  Football has us in a quandary about who to support.  We are still waiting to find out who will be leading our country in the autumn.  Trump is getting closer to the White House as Hillary loses a lot of trust.  We’re still talking about Brexit…

As Andy Murray said, ‘it’s not that bad is it?!’ – enjoy the weekend, enjoy the tennis and in memory of Caroline Aherne, enjoy the weather because it’s going to be SCORCHIO!

Wayne & Alex

PS Park Vintners takes no responsibility for the weather this weekend but is happy to take the credit if it does turn out nice!

Wimbledon Fortnight and we’ve managed to avoid using the ‘T’ word!

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As a fleet of freshly minted Wimbledon cars flows slowly past our window, we find ourselves wondering about heatmaps (it’s far too cold to think about flow charts!). So, is the current heatmap for the population of SW19, measured in Land Rover Discovery vehicles, higher or lower than in Solihull?

Does SW19 currently have the majority of Jaguar F-Pace vehicles already licensed for use on our roads, or is there a cheeky concentration of them in Norfolk?

Yes, you’ve guessed it folks, Wimbledon 2016 is in full flow, Brits have been knocked out, unknowns have become suddenly very known, and Alex and I have been watching loads of brand spanking new Sports Utility Vehicles with blacked out windows privacy glass (Optional Extra £385 on the Jag!) and drivers who appear new to the area. We’re never sure who they carry, but they appear each year in the latest model with Wimbledon Championship markings.

We wonder what they do with them afterwards, low mileage, very carefully driven for 2 weeks (we’ve been watching after all!), and only ever carried a sports bag or umpires clipboard in the boot. We thought it might make a nice delivery vehicle, not that the Volvo isn’t up to the job, but, well, it’s just not quite so shiny! We’ll see, maybe we can do a wine/Jag swap deal of some nature.

Four wheels?

Yes, I know I just mentioned it above, but did you know we do delivery? We can lend you glasses as well if you’d like us to bring the Prosecco round for that party you’re planning. We sell Ice too, if the sun ever shows up.

Two Wheels

The world’s greatest race (the Tour de France for those of you at the back) starts on Saturday, with stage 1 from Mont-St-Michel to Utah Beach 188km of basically flat cycling that suits the sprinters at the finish. Fingers firmly crossed for Mark Cavendish to end in yellow, but difficult to rule out André Greipel or Marcel Kittel.

Stages 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday see us in wine country as the Tour wends its way through the vineyards of the Loire. I’d say it is worth watching for the scenery alone, add in the thrills, spills of top athletes doing their day job and we have TV gold!
I think our delicious Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny 2015 (£15.99) is a suitably local tipple to watch the highlights with.

Wheels falling off

Following on from the England football teams sparkling performance in the Euros, we would just note that French Olympic swimmer Yannick Agnel has vowed to swim around Iceland if they win. Now, I’m no expert, but swimming around Iceland seems a long way for a man who specialises in 200m freestyle!

Elsewhere, the Westminster shenanigans seem to be making Yes, Minister look more like a documentary than was ever intended.

Evening Classes… wheel teach you (!)

Yes, as we mentioned last week, Wine School is back.

Term time is 28th September – 9th November (Half term break 26th October). Taste 60 wines over 6 Wednesday evenings. £150 per person and space is limited. Get smart for the winter!

Anyway enough waffle from me, what are we tasting then Alex?

Tasting This Weekend – oiling the wheels…

Well, with a mild threat of sunshine in the evenings I thought we’d start in the white corner with Accomplice Chardonnay (£8.49) a crisp, fresh, and modern Australian with bright fruit and lively finish that’s perfect to kick the evening off with, and we’ll follow that up with Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir (£15.99), again from Oz and a bit of a bobby dazzler with those bangers I’ve got lined up for the barbecue later on!

Come on July, bring us sunshine!