Archive for September, 2016

Wine, Whisky, Cheese and Big Sam

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s been an admin week this week.  More correctly it’s been an admin week for Wayne this week.  One of the joys of him going on holiday for a fortnight is not just the fact that I get to sit in the boss’s big leather chair, put my feet on the desk and smoke his cigars but also I get to cherry pick the jobs I do.  This tends to mean that I do lots of tastings, less paperwork and certainly no admin.

‘You wouldn’t believe how busy I’ve been over the last two weeks, I’ve barely had a chance to sit down’, I lie, whilst dusting footmarks off his desk, ‘ so I never quite managed to get all the office stuff done – don’t suppose you could have a look through this pile please, see if anything is urgent?’

Anyway, in the midst of all this paperwork were some follow up requirements regarding the AWRS.  Of course, you all know what this stands for but, just to confirm, AWRS stands for Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme.  Quoting from this is ‘a requirement for anyone who, sells, offers or exposes for sale or arranges to sell alcohol to other businesses on or after the point at which excise duty is payable, to be approved by HM Revenue and Customs’.  All very exciting – another layer of bureaucracy but one intended to eradicate the black market and ensure that contraband/fake alcohol doesn’t get onto the high street.

So, anyway, we don’t do much wholesale but applied to register months back.  Consequently, this week, Wayne was required to spend half an hour on the phone with an HMRC representative, explaining our business activities.  It seems they know quite a lot about us, HMRC.  But in a good way – we pay our VAT, we pay our bills, we’re not in jail and we don’t look likely to go there in the near future.  The conversation Wayne had with the helpful chap from HMRC also revolved around things a wholesaler shouldn’t do, loopholes that shouldn’t be taken advantage of, rules that should not be bent and basically temptations he shouldn’t be led into.

He took notes.

He then went out to dinner with his financial adviser and met with some overseas investors keen to import their spirits into the UK but equally keen to avoid too much attention from the powers that be.  Armed with his notes from earlier he confirmed, on hidden tape as it transpired later, that he could take advantage of various loopholes, bypass some rules and would be genuinely happy to represent these investors interests here for a paltry £400,000.  He also said some indiscreet things about Prince William and the Euro’s…….

… No, of course he didn’t do or say any of this, that would be a stupid thing to do, having only just registered for the AWRS 67 days ago and having just had the rules outlined to him very, very clearly regarding what he can and cannot do.  £400,000 is just not enough money to make him throw away his whole career – he would be a dope to even consider it.

In other news, Sam Allardyce is on a last minute holiday to the Costa Blanca.


Things to do as the nights draw in

Lots of different options available here.  Drink more red wine.  Eat more casserole.  Play less tennis.  Drink less Rosé.  Watch more TV.  Take up sewing.  Or Yoga.  Run less.

Alternatively you could spend a couple of evenings at your favourite local wine shop, making use of our electricity and heating whilst eating cheese or tasting Whisky.

Yep, we have a couple of upcoming tastings that still have spaces on them.

Next Thursday, 6th October at 8pm, we have our first Wine & Cheese of the new season – back by popular demand after a summer of leisure – and at a mere £20 per person you not only get electricity and heating but you get copious amounts of cheese and some fab wine to.  I’m definitely going, care to join me – 4 spaces left, if you fancy bringing some pals?

Then later, on Wednesday, 23rd November at 8pm, we have our Whisky Masterclass.  We’ve never done a spirits tasting before and it seems we’ve been missing a trick.  In fairness we’re not actually doing it this time as we’ve coerced our Whisky expert, Ed, to come and take us on a malty tour of the auld country.  Again, £20 per person is the cost and, frankly, Ed is worth much, much more!

If you fancy either or both of these then please let us know as soon as you know – we’d hate for you to be disappointed.

Thursday 6th October at 8pm – £20 per person


Wednesday 23rd November at 8pm – £20 per person


Things to do during the day on Saturday

Clearly children need to be driven to sports events in far flung villages, dogs need to be walked and shirts need to be taken to the dry cleaners but, as they say in the gambling adverts, when the fun stops, stop!  So, once you’ve finished these activities why don’t you pop by and see us, have a chat with Alex about the Ryder Cup, have a chat with Wayne about Revenue & Customs and have a taste of the wines we’ve got open.

In order to avoid creating Ryder Cup waves, we won’t be tasting any European or American wines this weekend.  We will be visiting Australia instead and, having considered some of the events of the past week, we will be tasting the two of the aptly named Accomplice wines by de Bortoli.  The white is Semillon/Sauvignon and the red is a Shiraz.  They both retail for £8.99 and by goodness, they’re fair dinkum tasty!

Time for me to go before I get done for cultural appropriation – see you at the tasting table!

Where were you when Kennedy was shot?

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s been another tumultuous week in what has already been a tumultuous year.

Whilst many of us still come to terms with the reality that Bowie, Rickman, Corbett or Prince will never entertain us again, there has now been even more salt thrown into a very wounded and cornered 2016, with the revelation that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are getting divorced.

It’s like a ‘where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ scenario, as all of us will have the time that we first read it on TMZ (7:28 AM PDT on 20/09/2016 or 3:28 PM London time, roughly) etched into our memories for all eternity.  Sad days, I’m sure you’ll agree.

As so often happens with events of such magnitude, whilst the main news focuses around the principal protagonists and the world and his dog give ill-informed opinions about people they have never met, it is the rippling shockwaves that are fascinating to observe and less reported.

Here is a quick round up of events since Tuesday afternoon that have sent us reeling and definitely have only happened as a result of this split:

  • Mary Berry quits The Great British Bake Off, citing loyalty as a key factor
  • At Madison Square Garden, Adele performs ‘two hours of misery’ for ‘the elephant in the room’ which is not a terribly nice way to refer to your audience
  • Mark Zuckerberg pledges $3 billion to cure everything, forever
  • Majestic Wines issued a significant profit warning, possibly from nerves at the stack of magnums of Miraval Rose they still have to shift
  • Lionel Messi suffers a ‘groin strain’ and needs at least three weeks to recover from everything that has happened
  • Ditto Harry Kane, although he may need longer to get over it all
  • MI6 to recruit 1,000 new staff – it seems Mr & Mrs Smith have left the building
  • Fancy Bears release files stating they have no files relating to Mr Pitt using a TUE
  • Donald Trump offends a vast number of people – although we’re not completely sure this has anything to do with Jolie-Pitt
  • Park Vintners Sparkling Wine & Champagne Tasting on Thursday 1st December quickly sells out
  • Ditto Wine & Cheese Tastings on Thursday 10th November/7th December
  • Whisky tasting also gaining momentum
  • The weather got colder and it got darker earlier…

So, now you know.  On the upside, and Majestic can take succour from this too, we still have a little of the Miraval Côtes de Provence Rose 2015, retailing at £20.99.  Not bad for a piece of history, the last vintage that Brad and Angelina crushed together!

Otherwise, little else to report.

However, we would love for you to give us your vote in the Time Out Love London Awards.

Last year, we were lucky enough to win as your favourite shop in Wimbledon.  We’d really like to win again, so if we could persuade you to nominate us on this link we’d be really grateful.

As hinted at earlier, our tasting calendar is getting booked up, the list of upcoming events being:

Thursday 6th October at 8pm – £20 per person


Pretty self-explanatory, we think…

Thursday 10th November at 8pm – £20 per person


As above! 


Wednesday 23rd November at 8pm – £20 per person


Our first ever whisky tasting.  Ed will be the talent, taking us on a virtual tour of Scotland by the power of whisky!

I saw Ed yesterday, as he dropped off some Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky, and we firmed up a bit our selection for the night.  Without giving too much away, we will have something from Arran, something Macallan, something from the lower Highlands, an Islay, and a couple of other things.  It’s all about doing a bit of a tour of the regions and styles with a few different age statements in there.  I have to say, when he left, I was a bit sad that I’ve got to wait until the end of November for this!

Thursday 1st December at 8pm – £30 per person      


Bubbly on the first day of Christmas, that’s what my truelove should send to me, not some random partridge gift…


Wednesday 7th December at 8pm – £20 per person


We’ll be reviewing our year in cheese and wine and make a selection worthy of a Christmas cheeseboard.  Will Stilton be there?  Port?  Stinking Bishop?  Who knows…?


However, if your tasting needs are more immediate, why not come and taste the wines I’ve got open for tonight and tomorrow?

The white is going to be a wine that we sell over and over again but never seem to use on tastings.  It’s our best selling white burgundy and we call it Macon Charnay Réserve Personnelle 2015, Burgundy, France – £11.99.  Charnay is one of the smallest of the Macon Villages, also renowned as one of the best.  This wine, made by Samantha Bailey, a British winemaker, has enticing orchard fruit aromas (nectarine or Cox’s apple maybe) and a ripe, textured and full citrusy palate with a lingering finish.

Representing red interests will be another top seller that rarely takes its cork out in the shop, The Crusher Pinot Noir 2014, Clarksburg, California, USA – £14.49

“Bone Crusher, spine crusher, ball crusher – I don’t care which part of my body it crushes but these are just the kind of wines we want at our show.  The audience love them!”

Oz Clarke, Three Wine Men

Not sure how to follow that… this is definitely one of those wines everyone tells their friends to buy.  We liked it when we bought it but it’s taken on a life of its own now!

And that’s it from us for this week.  Come and taste some wine, taste a few spirits if you fancy, sign up for a tasting or just pop in for a chat about how your life will never be the same again, post-brangelina (with a small b now…)

A variety of tastings for you to join in with, to make the long nights shorter.

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And so life picks up its pace as we shift back to normality.  Even the littlest of kids are now back at school.  The lucky amongst us, those who don’t have kids of any size or whose progeny have already fled the nest, are benefitting from some exotic September sunshine for a fraction of the cost of exotic August sunshine.  Today sees the potentially permanent return of drizzle and grey skies, an antidote to the barmy weather of the last few days and a signal that autumn will soon be upon us.  Pretty soon we’ll be packing away the shorts, boxing up the Rosé wines and turning the lights on earlier.

So, how are we going to cope with this change in the seasons?  Well, first up, we’re going to start drinking red wine again as we reacquaint ourselves with tannins and structure.  We’re going to start casseroling, slow cooking, pot-roasting and stop cooking outside for a while.  We’re going to remember how delicious Port is, and remember why we don’t drink it in a heatwave.  We’re going to look beyond the delights of gin and rediscover the ethereal pleasures of whisky and rum.  And we’re going to thoroughly enjoy ourselves – got it!

In order to fruitfully fill the time between now and Christmas we’ve set up a variety of tastings for you to join in with, to make the long nights shorter.

Thursday 6th October at 8pm – £20 per person


Pretty self-explanatory, we think…


Thursday 10th November at 8pm – £20 per person


As above!


Wednesday 23rd November at 8pm – £20 per person


Our first ever whisky tasting.  Ed will be the talent, taking us on a virtual tour of Scotland by the power of whisky!


Thursday 1st December at 8pm – £30 per person


Bubbly on the first day of Christmas, that’s what my truelove should send to me, not some random partridge gift…


Wednesday 7th December at 8pm – £20 per person


We’ll be reviewing our year in cheese and wine and make a selection worthy of a Christmas cheeseboard.  Will Stilton be there?  Port?  Stinking Bishop?  Who knows….


All these events take place here in the shop, starting at 8pm and spaces are limited – first come, first served!


You may have noticed our failure to critique current affairs and sport this week.  Not for want of trying, we were finding it slightly difficult to know where to start.  In a world where more column inch has been devoted to Bake Off moving house than the news that the one person capable of stopping the Trump march on the White House is really not very well at all, I’m not sure what to say.   In sport, the Paralympians are astonishing, the cycling is over and the football is still a bit of a sideshow, although Leicester set off in pursuit of the Champions League Trophy in no uncertain terms.

Not sure really what to taste this weekend – the sun might shine, it might be muggy like last Saturday, or it could just be grim.  So I’m going to hedge my bets with a light white and a heavier red.

The Paddler Riesling 2012, Marlborough, NZ – £12.99 – From a single vineyard in the Blind River sub-division of Marlborough, this is a cracking Riesling, and a little bit of age has fleshed out the palate nicely.  Fruit forward in style, with homemade lemonade and honeysuckle aromas, the palate is fresh and racy with a flinty minerality and lemon/lime notes and a bit of sweetness to balance that racy acidity.

Novas Gran Reserva Syrah Mourvedre 2013, Cachapoal, Chile – £11.99 – Lovely black fruits here, with a hint of vanilla on the nose.  Rich, with fabulous concentration on the palate and some evident but soft tannins.  It’s organic too.  Oh, and it’s never been on tasting before!

It seems I have reached the bottom of the page, so best tidy up.  Come in and taste some wines, come in and book yourself onto some tastings or just come in because you fancy it (and it’s raining outside!)


Wine, Whisky and Wandering

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we found ourselves wielding the Oystercard and heading into town for a spot of wine tasting. We started off in the remarkably building site-like Victoria, a place of barriers and no shortcuts. After walking for 10 minutes to get to an address about 55 metres away we congratulated our chum Jeremy on becoming one of the UK’s new Masters of Wine and got down to the serious business of tasting some wine.

A few sniffs here, swirls there, with judicious use of the spittoon soon found us on our travels again. We bumped into a chum from the north and established summer trading is similar regardless of which part of London you frequent. Before we could say Jiminy Cricket we found ourselves in Shoreditch.

Slightly worried we’d be caught wearing the wrong beard, or sporting jeans that were way too wide in the leg, we were pleased to receive a warm welcome and recognise a few friendly faces at the next tasting. Less Bordeaux and Burgundy here, we found ourselves on the receiving end of Italian and Spanish flavours here, with just a dab of Australia to keep us focused. Notes were taken, asterisks marked in books, and wintery wines mentally ordered.

Back in the shop we compared notes, ate a rather late sandwich for lunch, and then had a meeting with Ed, our main man on the whisky front.  No tasting this time but we had a great chat, he’s a good chap and knows loads about whisky.

Suffice to say we shall be hosting our first ever whisky tasting. Ed will be the talent, taking us on a virtual tour of Scotland by the power of whisky. More below…

Tasting Events This Quarter

Thursday 6th October At 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 Per Person

Thursday 10th November At 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 Per Person

Wednesday 23rd November 2016 At 8pm – Whisky Masterclass– £20 Per Person

Thursday 1st December At 8pm – Christmas Fizz Tasting – £30 Per Person

Wednesday 7th December At 8pm – Christmas Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 Per Person

Time Out Love London Awards

Last year we were lucky enough to win as your favourite shop in Wimbledon. We’d really like to win again so if we could persuade you to nominate us on this link we’d be really grateful. If, on reflection, you prefer the Lingerie or Stationary shops we promise not to sulk!

Early close tonight

As we mentioned in last week’s email we’ll be closing a little early this evening (at 7pm) as we are conducting a tasting at Pearson Cycles in Sheen.

Tasting This Weekend

Despite the special celebratory nature of this week, we’ve resisted the opportunity to open that Romulan Ale, and sadly have no 1966 Chateau Picard to pour for you.

We have instead decided to mark La Vuelta by opening Val Do Xuliana Albarino (£12.49) a classic crisp Albarino with tangy mandarin fruit that’ll be perfect with those scallops from the farmers market.

Over in the red department, we’ll open a Portugueser that goes by the name of Doural Tinto (£10.49) and hails from the Douro region. A smidge lighter than some from the area, it is a soft, fresh, berry flavoured number with just a hint of spice about it.

Scotty, beam us up!

Last weekend of the school holidays, what better reason for a celebratory glass of wine!

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Creative juices ebb and flow and it seems, with the end of August just passed, that we are currently definitely on an ebb tide, struggling to find a Friday email to write.

Alex is back from holiday, for sure, but since his children are persistently avoiding the return to school life, he is finding it noticeably harder to concentrate at work.   Visions of what damage they are inflicting upon each other and the dog whilst left to their own devices at home, do little to enhance his focus.  On the other hand, Wayne has only 8 days to go until he sets off to the sunshine and, as a grandmaster of ‘demob happy’, is already sporting espadrilles and a goofy grin.

With this dream-team at the helm of the Weekly Wine, what could possibly go wrong?

‘Keep it simple and write about what you know about’, were Wayne’s words as he wandered off downstairs to combi-wax his surfboard and moustache, ‘and don’t make things up – people can always tell when things are made up!’

So, what do I know about?  Not a lot it would seem, having done some serious evaluation.  I seem to have a little knowledge about a lot of things but not a lot of knowledge about anything in particular.  I know lots of different ways to get to Croydon from Wimbledon by car; I’m quite good at judging distance on a golf course; I used to know all the words to Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.  None of these, however, are worthy of mention in a wine email.

‘….and if in doubt, write about cycling, that’s what I’d do…’ opined Wayne, on his way out to the park with a deckchair and his skateboard.

Genius, that’s why we pay him the big bucks.  Next week, Sunday 11th September to be precise, La Vuelta a España rolls into Madrid for its last day – hopefully Froome will be in the Maillot Rojo and much celebration will ensue.  However, we intend to celebrate this race in a different way, on the Friday before, the 9th September.

For the last couple of years, we have linked up with Pearson Cycles over in East Sheen and created a cycling related tasting.  2014 saw Wayne liven up various stages of the Tour de France with wines from the relevant regions.  2015, it was the turn of the Giro d’Italia as, once again, he found interesting trivia about past winners of the race and their love of all things vinous and neatly coupled this with mountain stages and fine Italian wine.  There was even an opera singer.

This year, as would make sense to any cycling fans, it’s the turn of La Vuelta to get the Wayne treatment.  He has done an astonishing amount of research, has learnt Galego, Catalan and Euskara in order to be able to pronounce all the wines and places correctly and has lined up a frankly delicious tasting.  Rumour has it even Sean Kelly may turn up – he did last year.

If you fancy coming, it’s taking place in the Pearson Shop in East Sheen and starts at 7.30pm next Friday evening.  We are just the entertainment, so have nothing to do with ticket selling, but tickets are available for £25, through the Pearson website –

It’s fun, it’s informative and it’s a change of scene – who’s with us?

For those of you not keen on Sheen

We’ve had a look at the calendar and have set a some dates for tastings over the next few months:

Thursday 6th October at 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 per person

Thursday 10th November at 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 per person

Thursday 1st December at 8pm – Christmas Fizz Tasting – £30 per person

Wednesday 7th December at 8pm – Christmas Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 per person

The Wine and Cheese tastings follow the same simple format that we have had success with over the years – we buy four cheeses and then endeavour to match half a dozen wines of varying hues and dryness and see which ones work the best!  For the Christmas Wine & Cheese tasting Wayne will review beforehand the cheeses and wines we have tried throughout 2016 and select the winning combinations – these cheeses and wines will be that we will enjoy on 7th December!

The Christmas Fizz tasting is a complicated affair.  We will make a selection of suitably festive sparkling wines and Champagnes, Alex will sharpen his knives and carve some smoked salmon and much fun will ensue.  As always, we will explain how Champagne is made and how Prosecco differs from Cava and then taste away.  As I said, complicated.

If you would like to attend any of these tastings then do please drop us a line at, or telephone us on 020 8944 5224, or better still, come and see us in the shop!

We will hopefully add a couple of other tastings into the mix over the next few months, we will know more after a couple of meetings next week.

Something for the weekend

And now it seems we approach the end of the email.  I just need to mention what wines we are tasting this weekend and you will then be free to go…

A new listing you might have missed over the summer is De Bortoli Yarra Valley Regional Reserve Chardonnay 2014 – £12.39.  Whilst we are constantly led to believe that Aussie Chardy is the devils work and should be consigned to Room 101, sales would beg to differ.  However, the days of over-oaked, overblown and overfruited wines are, as they say, over.  ‘open nose, crisp on the palate, restrained ripe fruit, crisp touch of mineral, gently creamy, decent finish.  Over delivers at this price.’  Obviously that’s just our opinion, come and see if you agree.

An old favourite that stoically sells itself without any fuss or fanfare is our red for this week.  Meerlust Red 2012, Stellenbosch – £13.49.  We have a long history with this wine, ever since it beat a number of more expensive Bordeaux in a blind tasting we held.  Classic cassis, plum and spice characters, lashings of black fruit and a lingering finish.  We mostly sell this wine by the six box as it has such broad appeal and makes for an excellent ‘house’ wine.

So that’s that, I think, the ebb turned into a flow.  A quick addendum to the Pearson Tasting: as we will be in Sheen for 7.30pm next Friday, we will not be here.  As a result we will be shutting at 7pm on Friday 9th September – apologies.

For many of us this is the last weekend of the school holidays, what better reason for a celebratory glass of wine!