Archive for November, 2016

Whisky, Rully & Roero

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Can you believe that in a month’s time it’ll all be over.

Right now, Wayne will be sitting in his matching Christmas Cardigan and Cravat Combo, lighting his Christmas cigar and embarking on his second glass of port, whilst his poor wife labours over the Brussels sprouts and turkey, again.  Alex, on the other hand will be knee deep in rage and wrapping paper, desperately trying to wrap up presents that are destined to be unwrapped again five minutes later and wondering to himself, a) why hasn’t he done this earlier; b) why doesn’t he ever buy regular shaped gifts without sharp edges; and c) will anyone notice if he opens that bottle of champagne, NOW!

Yep, only 30 sleeps to go, folks and today is the official start of the silly season.  Black Friday, blackeye day, potentially, has arrived and with it a host of junk mail and once in a lifetime deals.  All week our computers have been running slower, due to the amount of spam offers we are receiving from AVG, who provide our antivirus stuff and should frankly know better.  Sticking a big banner across the bottom quarter of my screen is not going to make me suddenly upgrade Mr AVG, it’s more likely to make a McAfee of me!  Great Western Railway, lastminute, Your Golf Travel, Wiggle, Virgin Trains East Coast, Costco, London Duathlon, Chemist Direct, Golf Deals Group, 3 different golf clubs south of London (one of which I’ve never played!), South Devon Chilli Farm, Carphone Warehouse – all of these sent me emails yesterday offering some sort of Black Friday deal.  However, all it really did was to confirm what I already feared – if you examine my purchasing history over the last year, it is pedestrian to say the least – golf, trainspotting and some glucosamine – next year I want to receive offers from skydiving and safari companies, from Champagne houses and from!

Back in the real world for now, and away from the internet, we’ve had a pretty productive week.  Tuesday saw Alex putting his tooth enamel to the test as he did some more judging at the International Wine Challenge – lots of young, new world wines apparently, and some from Turkey too.  Then, on Wednesday, we had our first ever spirits tasting – a Whisky tasting in fact, with big Ed Cotton from Gordon & MacPhail.  It was brilliant.  What was threatening to be a raucous evening filled with singing and subversion was in fact really quite studious and engaged – clearly Ed has the sufficient gravitas that we lack!

We tasted the following all of which were showing brilliantly –

Speymalt from Macallan 2006 – £37.99

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 – £38.99

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 – £42.99

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 – £45.99

Ardmore 1996 – £72.99

The Arran and Strathmill were deliciously soft and supple and almost aperitif-y in style whilst the Ardmore and Caol Ila showed far more structure and power.  And the Macallan – that just did what Macallan always does so well!  We still have open bottles of Speymalt, Arran, Strathmill and a drop of Caol Ila should you wish to pop by and have a taste – funnily enough the Ardmore (the most expensive) got finished on the night!

If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!  How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!

I know, I know, we don’t need no education etc etc, but, should you decide to buck this trend, we have a half-filled Wine School taking place in the early part of next year.  We can promise lots of wine and no dark sarcasm in the classroom.  Full details are attached but, for those unable to open attachments, the most important details are that it starts on Wednesday 25th January through to Wednesday 8th March and costs £150 per person.  Christmas gift, perhaps?

Rully & Roero

Sadly, this is not the name of the new winebar opening in place of Bar Estella, the main reason for this being that Estella is still there, staring emptily into the street, yearning for some TLC.  No, in fact, Rully and Roero are the names of the two wines we are tasting this weekend.

We’ve chosen these two because they appeal to our sense of contrariness.  The Roero is a white wine made by a man, Bruno Giacosa, far more famous for his red wines, particularly his stunning Barbaresco’s and Barolo’s.  The Rully is a red wine from a part of Burgundy often more associated with white wines – see what we did there?

Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2015 – £21.99

Celine et Vincent Dureuil Rully 1er Cru ‘Champs Cloux’ 2013 – £25.99

Come in and taste them at your leisure although if you want a leisurely taste I suggest you avoid late afternoon – Christ the King is lighting up its Christmas tree and carols will be sung at 4.15pm tomorrow so it will be quite busy round here at that time!

Another week with no mention of sport – where’s Alex gone?



Friday, November 18th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we had a look at our calendar and noticed that Thanksgiving is almost upon us. This got us pondering on the things we might be thankful for.

We started off by being thankful we weren’t Wayne Rooney. Poor guy plays a game of footy,  has a couple of ales later on, gets an impromptu invite to a wedding, and basically just carries on playing. Before he can say congratulations to the lovely couple, the press are all over him like a cheap suit. We couldn’t help but think he was just being human.

We’re thankful that when researching this email, Google searching with the words “cheese makes you…” gave us the top four options of: dream, happy, fart and taller!

We’re thankful to the team at Nature Medicine for even entertaining the idea that eating cheese could be good for us.

We’re thankful that our chums in New Zealand are all ok and in fine fettle. We may have been more thankful if they’d lost our invoice in a crack in the road with all the missing homework.

We’re thankful that we’re not the poor lady who sadly had to cancel her birthday Champagne tasting last night due to illness. Get well soon and we’ll all celebrate then!

We’re thankful not to be England’s bowlers, now that Virat Kohli has found his mojo.

We’re thankful that Wimbledon is staying on the BBC till 2024, and would be ever so thankful if we get lucky in the ballot. Nudge, nudge!

Always thankful that we’re not turkeys.

We’re definitely thankful that Alex had a day off and Wayne snuck some fine Brunello di Montalcino into the building. Brunello di Montalcino 2010 by Sesti £65.

“Sesti’s 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is a wine of real class and personality. In fact, the 2010 is one of the best wines I have tasted from this estate in Sant’Angelo in Colle. Iron, sweet red cherries, wild flowers and earthiness are some of the many notes that inform a juicy, plump Brunello that already drinks well. The 2010 is quite forward and fruit-driven, but there is good underlying complexity as well as enough acidity to ensure a decade-plus of fine drinking. My only quibble is that the aromatics could be a little more focused, but that is a relatively small critique for a wine that delivers this much pleasure. 94/100” Antonio Galloni,, February 2015

“Wonderful aromas of dried flowers and fruit. Hints of mushrooms and earth. Full body, ripe and juicy fruit and a berry, spice and cherry aftertaste. Delicious now. Why wait? 94/100” James Suckling,, January 2015

Not to mention a cheeky parcel of Chateau Musar 2003 (£26.99).

“The lush texture and surprising richness make this a rather luscious wine by Musar standards. It is showing little but baby fat right now. Fresh and youthful, it is just a friendly puppy today. I’m not so sure it is in the winery’s preferred style, but it should be a very enjoyable vintage for consumers. Showing not a trace of age, it has a lot of potential and a long life ahead. It may yet be entitled to further upticks in score, but let’s be a bit conservative at the moment. Drink now-2035. 91/100” Mark Squires – #207 Jun 2013

Wine School

The perfect gift for that difficult to buy for wine lover in your family. Six weeks, somewhere around sixty wines tasted including sweet, red white and bubbly. £150 per person full details attached.

As I mentioned above, Thanksgiving rears its head on Thursday. We’re not entirely sure what we’re thankful for in this case, but we’ve never been the type to let the news get in the way of a party.

Tasting This Weekend

So in honour of turkey, sweet potatoes and general North American feasting, we shall be opening some tasty wines from California. The white corner will be featuring Morning Fog Chardonnay by Wente Family Vineyards (£13.99). This hails from Livermore Valley at the back of San Francisco Bay, which may just give you a clue as to where the name comes from!

Red corner is definitely Zinfandel territory this week, Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel (£12.99). This one hails from Lodi, long time a source of great Zinfandels, and where Rudi Maggio planted his first vines in 1954.

Music selection for this week “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” William DeVaughn.

Thankfully, that’s it from us this week.

God bless America

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, that knocks Brexit into a cocked hat!  Who knew?  POTUS – Possibility of Trump Upsetting Someone?  The world has gone to hell in a handcart this year and frankly we should have realised that Donny T would end up in the egg shaped office as soon as the poll of polls told us he definitely wouldn’t and with the odds at 9/2 just before the voting started, how did we not see the writing on the wall.

Speaking of walls and of odds, here are a couple of current bets being offered on Paddy Power:

  • Trump to build wall covering entirety of US-Mexican border before end of 2020  – 4/1
  • Trump to be successfully impeached before end of 2020 – 8/1
  • Trump to turn the White House gold – 66/1

And to win the 2020 Presidential Election:

  • Trump – 11/10
  • Michelle Obama – 8/1
  • Hillary Clinton  – 12/1
  • Jeb Bush  – 40/1
  • Kanye West – 90/1
  • Chelsea Clinton – 100/1
  • Kevin Spacey – 150/1
  • Kim Kardashian – 275/1

Plenty of opportunities to lose some money there – trying to imagine what Kim Kardashian’s manifesto might be…. extremely wealthy with no political experience and an ability to annoy people, surely that should make her unelectable?  Oh, hang about….

So, anyway, as you can imagine, we’ve been a bit distracted by the if’s, what’s and maybe’s of the events in America this week so haven’t formed a sensible opinion on Toblerone-gate, given thought to Prince Harry’s love life or critiqued the new John Lewis Christmas advert – apologies.

Meanwhile, back in Wimbledon Park…

We’ve been tasting, tasting, tasting.  A whole load of wine has been sniffed, swirled and spat (in our case) or swallowed (in your case) this week.

Wednesday night saw Week 6, the final week, of our Wine School, which saw us opening 10 bottles of bubbles, including Prosecco, Cava, English Sparkling and, of course, Champagne.  Star of the night was the 2002 Cuvée Alain Thiénot – £75 showing fabulous caramel, brandy snap and toffee apple character with a deliciously soft mousse.  Once the hubbub had died down over the price, we had explained the scarcity of this excellent vintage and the fact that most other houses start north of £100, its #1 status was confirmed.  A close second, and perhaps more wallet friendly, was Leveret IQ3 NV – £20.99, showing lots of luscious lees character, a real apple strudel and cream character with an elegant and long finish.  And at the end of the night we released 10 newly qualified wine drinkers into the cold night air, free to indulge their palates and explore the nether regions of the wine list!

Last night was Wine & Cheese.  You’d have thought that, having hosted over 40 of these evenings, we’d be like a well-oiled machine and have all the answers and the perfect matches.  Sadly this is still not true, whilst occasionally well-oiled, we definitely do not have all the answers but I think that is half the fun.  Wine was excellent, cheese was very tasty and a very good time was had by all.  Who knew that dry Amontillado sherry would be such a fabulous cheese match?

All our tastings are now full up until the end of the year but if you fancy learning more about wine in the New Year, why not join our next wine school.

Who is this course aimed at?

You!  We assume you have tasted wine and enjoyed it enough to come along and explore further. Our course is aimed at the enthusiastic beginner.

What’s our goal?

Our course is designed to give you an excellent opening to the world of wine. Based entirely around what you taste, the course will give you the confidence to trust your palate, understand the characteristics of the main grape varieties and to explore new styles and varieties.  We keep the size of the group small, between 8-12 people, to allow for discussion.

What will we cover?

We cover all the classic grape varieties with styles from both the Old and New World.  Some of the wines are shown “blind”, so that you learn to trust your judgement based on the taste of the wine rather than what it says on the label.  We will show you how to evaluate and assess quality, discuss wine production methods as well as the wine’s acidity, tannins and flavour. On our journey we shall cover ageing potential, wine and food matching, wine storage conditions and, importantly, wine faults.

Weeks 1-3

We’ll show you how to taste wine and cover the main white varieties along with a couple off-the-beaten-track selections.

Weeks 4 & 5

We’ll cover the classic red varieties as well as a few lesser known varieties.

Week 6

This week is all about bubbles. Sparkling wines from around the world, alongside several styles of Champagne.

You will taste 8 to 10 wines each week and we will even manage to sneak in a little pudding wine and perhaps a rosé somewhere amongst that lot!

What venue?

The course takes place in the shop after we close. We put out the tasting table, pull up some chairs and get stuck in.  Our courses are relaxed and about enjoying wine and sharing knowledge.


Wednesday evenings from 8 till about 9.45 for six weeks, over a period of seven weeks whilst we deal with half term, starting Wednesday 25th January until Wednesday 8th March.

What do I bring?

Just yourself! We’ll provide everything you need… notes, pens, paper, water biscuits and wine.

Cost – £150.00

Meanwhile, back in the here and now…

If you can’t wait until January to taste wine, we’ll open some tonight for you instead!

A couple of party wines this week: from Chile we have Oyster Shack Chardonnay 2014 – £7.49 and from Romania we have Calusari Pinot Noir 2015 – £8.69.  Probably useful to point out here that if you are having a party we can lend you glasses, supply ice, deliver and also provide you with a discount of 10% of twelve bottles or more!

That’s all from us this week and we’ll finish with a quote, which could be attributed to Wayne, commenting on Alex’s working practices, but is actually one made by a previous employee of DT:

“I cannot imagine him doing a job where he doesn’t just pick and choose what he wants to do, where if he feels like coming in he comes in, and if he feels like going to a meeting he goes to a meeting.”

God bless America.

Guy Fawkes, Kings Ginger and Wine School

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Fellow Wine Lovers,

My daughter hasn’t eaten a proper meal since Monday lunchtime, or at least that’s how it feels.  However, she has certainly eaten Love Hearts, Maoam’s, Parma Violets, countless lollipops and too many funsize Mars/Snickers/Twix.  My son had a binge on Sour Patch Kids but then felt sick.  And my saintly wife has been surviving on lettuce and dried bread, never once dipping her hand into the gargantuan bowl of child size sweets.

Isn’t Halloween great?

And now we are in the midst of Guy Fawke’s fever/fervour.  As one of our customers pointed out earlier, in this super-sensitive politically correct environment we inhabit, it’s quite amazing that we are allowed to celebrate, and indeed celebrate quite so vigorously, a foiled catholic plot that took place over 400 years ago!  But celebrate we do, by lighting a bonfire and setting off fireworks – ironic considering these are exactly the things that the plotters failed to do.

Remember, remember the 5th November, although if you wanted to see fireworks in Wimbledon Park, they were held last night, bizarrely, as opposed to Saturday…

Back in the modern day another plot has been foiled, if only temporarily, as the High Court rules that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU.  Talking of Brexit, a much quoted line from The Spectator’s Parliamentarian of the Year awards on Wednesday evening, whilst receiving an award for Comeback of the Year:

In the words of our great prime minister… I understood that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it

Isn’t Boris great?

Meanwhile, a small wine merchant in Wimbledon Park….

… has been continuing about its business whilst trying not to uspet anyone or get caught up in any plotting.  We’d like to confirm that the darker afternoons and colder mornings are not of our doing – if we had our way it would be shorts and t-shirts 24/7/365 – but we have plenty of Whisky and Gin and King’s Ginger and Amaretto and Kummel open to taste all the time to keep our cockles warmed when required, so pop in on your way past if you feel chilly.

We’ve taken delivery of more wines with a distinctly festive feel, sometimes more traditionally described as wines from Bordeaux, and we’re getting quite excited about how things are shaping up.  Latest arrivals (just today in fact) are

Chateau Corbin 2010, Montagne Saint-Emilion£19.99  – 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – the winemaker has spent some time in Australia so he likes a bit of ripeness and so we have nice bright fruit, plums and damsons here.  Really fresh and a bit broader on the palate with quite delicious and softened tannins on the finish.

Chateau Haut Ferrand 2009, Pomerol – £43.99 – 60% Merlot 40% Cab Franc – a beautiful nose, showing the ripeness of the vintage and a very smooth palate – extremely delicious and very habit forming.  Smooth, ripened soft blackberry fruits perhaps even some background hints of strawberry.  Proper wine.

Chateau Relais de la Poste 2012, Cotes de Bourg – £18.49 – known as Cuvee Malbec.  This has deliciously dark blackcurrant fruit, appealing with a hint of violet too, and is frankly really tasty but with a bit more weight and juice than a normal Bordeaux.  Unusual to be 100% Malbec and thus, very interesting.

Smooth palate, plums and damsons, fresh and broad – what are you on about?

If you want to know what we’re on about and fancy learning how to write tasting notes as erudite as Wayne’s then the Park Vintners Wine School is the place for you!

School starts again in the New Year – Wednesday January 25th 2017 to be precise, at 8pm, to be even more accurate.  It will then proceed on a weekly basis until Wednesday 8th March – a break for half term will be taken on the week containing Wednesday 15th February.  You’ll taste around 60 wines, you’ll learn lots of clever wine terms to use at dinner parties and you’ll get a thorough grounding in the key grape varieties plus a foray into the exciting grapes that sometimes hide in the shadows.

The course costs £150 per person and full details are attached to this email.

If you can’t wait until January…

… then come and taste some wines with us this weekend.  We’ve finished #ShopRioja now so will be leaving Spain for a bit.  How about a quick trip to Argentina …

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2014, Mendoza, Argentina – £12.99 Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes. This is a lovely crisp yet full bodied Chardonnay with a good finish.


Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2013, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina – £25.99 “Bright ruby-red. Pure, vibrant aromas of blackberry, blueberry and mint. A smooth, densely packed midweight with noteworthy inner-mouth tension and lift to the flavors of dark berries and violet. There’s something a bit Syrah-like about this very fresh, juicy, long Malbec. Has the strength of character to evolve slowly but this is already easy to appreciate. Drink 2016-2023. Score – 91.”  (Stephen Tanzer,, Jan. 2015)

That’s all from us this week.  By next week we’ll know the next POTUS – scarily it’s now shaping up to be a bit of a nailbiter!