Archive for January, 2017

January Sale, Wine and Cheese Tastings

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A cold week, a foggy week and generally a week worth forgetting – a typical late January week if we’re honest with ourselves – and a week filled with comings and goings:

  • Mr Trump arrived demure and understated as ever, whilst Obama slipped out through the back door and giddily ran for the hills.
  • Zoe and Chris, from The Cake Parlour, finally made good on all their threats and shipped off back to Australia, just in time for Australia Day and 24 degrees in the shade – can’t imagine why they’d want to leave! The new owners of the Parlour seem very nice though, so I’m sure business will rock on.
  • It would also seem that, according to one of our sources (but we haven’t corroborated this with any of the hairdressers yet), Just Pause, beside the Post Office, has also left Arthur Road – certainly the windows are all blacked out and the shop has been completely cleared, so something is definitely afoot. Is this now the opportunity for one of you to open that Wine Bar we all know the area needs?  Or a hairdressers, perhaps!
  • As a country we’ve still left Europe but then, on the other hand, we haven’t quite managed it yet as there now needs to be another vote about a vote that we’ve already voted in – ah, the never ending layers of bureaucracy, surely that’s one of the things we were hoping to leave in Europe….
  • All the Brits left the tennis in Melbourne and the Open suddenly seems to have turned into a Veterans event.
  • And January has almost left us, and with it the 6 for 5 deal, but February is around corner, with its Six Nations deal to keep our weekends lively.

And we’ve been busy.  Monday was paperwork and deliveries; Tuesday found Alex trying to go to a supplier tasting and lunch in Farringdon, only to discover the event was on Wednesday; Wednesday was the start of Wine School and consequently all of Wayne’s jokes needed to be dusted off and given a good polish to honour the event; Thursday was Australia Day and appropriately, colder than the Baltic.   Most of every day we have been wrestling with Office 365, we’ve lost our Outlook Calendar, found it again on our phones, re-instated it on Outlook and then crossed our fingers each morning when we relight the computer praying that it’ll still be there.  And we’ve organised some dates for upcoming tastings.  And now it’s Friday, payday, hip, hip hooray!


Many of you have been on one of these, a significant number of you have been on two or three, and lots of you have never been.  None of these reasons should exclude you from coming to one this year.

We have developed a very good relationship with a French cheese wholesaler who, in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, is located in Wellington Works, which is more commonly known locally as the end of the road Alex lives on.  Anyway, the cheeses are great, not always French which is also great, and different every time – what’s not to like.  The wines come off our shelves and we always endeavour to select wines that will tantalise the tastebuds and complement the cheeses, rather than torture them.  2-3 kilos of cheese, 6 or 7 wines, bread and crackers – where do I sign up!

Dates are:

Thursday 23rd February

Thursday 30th March

Thursday 27th April

Thursday 25th May

Each evening will start at 8pm and we have a maximum of 12 seats.  The cost is £20 per person and, as places are limited, we ask that any reservation is supported by payment, to avoid disappointment!


We will have wine open in the shop this weekend, as ever.  As it was Aussie Day yesterday and we all wish we were somewhere warmer right now, we’re opening a couple of stonkers from down under.

Pauletts Polish Hill River Aged Release Riesling 2009, Clare Valley – £18.99

The name is a bit of a mouthful but then so is the wine!  Aged Riesling from Australia may seem like a market without demand but as the wine is so blooming delicious it just sells itself.  Honeysuckle, citrus, apples, orchard fruits in general, close your eyes and you can almost smell the shrimps blackening on the barbecue…

Paringa Estate Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015, Mornington Peninsula – £27.59

This may seem like a slightly awkward compliment but this is my second favourite Pinot Noir.  The first is from Oregon and has a suitably niche and elevated price tag and, significantly for today’s purposes, is not from Australia.  This chap, the silver medallist in a photo finish in the race to become my favourite, is from Mornington’s most celebrated estates.  Soft, ripe cherry red fruit, hints of spice in the background and an enormous pleasure to drink, which is a very Australian approach to winemaking and we fully support it.  Come and taste some before I polish it all off…

Should your cockles need more serious warming we do still have a number of our whiskies open, plus the sloe gin and of course King’s Ginger, the perfect foil to the cold weather.

Right that’s it from us, we’re off now, buoyed by The Donald’s confident assumption that Mexico will pay for the wall, we’re going to tell our neighbours to pay for a ski holiday!

To emulate Wayne’s herculean efforts this week, how about joining us for the slightly less frenetic Wine School that starts next Wednesday?

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘122 wines (2 of them twice, just to check), 3 olive oils, countless grissini and a couple of pints of Guinness.’

It’s rare, but occasionally we get a sneaky glimpse into Wayne’s diary to find out what he’s really up to when he claims to be cycling/visiting family in Essex/trimming the hedge/painting the fence/swinging the lead… To be fair, he does spend a significant portion of his non-work life engaging in all of the activities above but every now and then he goes off the reservation and hits the town.

This happened on Tuesday.

A quick warm up tasting at the Oval (30 wines tasted, 3 olive oils, various breads) was an exercise more focused around trying new vintages of wines we currently list and a couple of esoteric peripheral treats – for example, a quality Lambrusco and then a 1978 Terrantez from Madeira that was a rare treat but, at over £150 for a half bottle, it is unlikely to be appearing in the shop anytime soon!  Olive oil was all delicious and green and herbaceous and frankly we got side-tracked…

Next stop Langan’s.  Well you should really, shouldn’t you, if the purpose of your day is vinous extravagance.  A baker’s dozen of wines here, tasted in the upstairs room with all the photos of all the luminaries propping Peter Langan up, the sort of photos Hello and co aspired to present but none as classy and cool as this collection.  Again we got side-tracked.  Some really tasty and interesting wines from Beaujolais (the ‘next big thing’ apparently if Lambrusco doesn’t get there first, or posh Madeira), some genuine horror stories from various bits of the New World, some melt in the mouth slivers of hand-carved Serrano ham and we’re out the door, all within half an hour.

Quick courtesy call at Marks & Spencer’s and then a route march down to the Albert Hall, having misjudged the intervening distance.  Tasting wasn’t in the hall but when you’re tasting next door, this is the landmark you aim for.  Here is where teeth turned black, and tasting notes grew monosyllabic.  Almost 80 wines tasted and noted – the two Cremant were re-examined a few times, just as a respite, just as a palate cleanser and then as a treat – sometimes it is just too rude to spit.

And the Guinness.  Now that tasted fabulous, the requirement to spit was no longer there and a body that had been teased all day by the prospect of a tasty tipple was finally given its reward.

If that’s what he gets up to on a Tuesday, one can scarce imagine what his weekends must be like!

Last call for Wine School

Following on from Wayne’s herculean efforts this week, how about joining us for the slightly less frenetic Wine School that starts next Wednesday, 25th January at 8pm?

Admittedly, over the six week course you will only taste about half the number of wines Wayne tasted on Tuesday, about 10 each week, but to be able to be like Wayne you need to have been like Wayne for a long time – and not many people have….

Anyway, over the six weeks you will learn about all your old favourites – Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and friends – but you will also get to learn about, and taste, other grape varieties that perhaps you are always a little wary of when confronted with the wine list.  Treat yourself to this in 2017 – if wine is going to get more expensive, it might be time to explore the roads less travelled, where greater value hides!

Wine School – Wednesday 25th January to Wednesday 8th March

(half term 15th February)

£150 per person, 4 places remaining.

6 for 5

16.66% discount.  On wine and beer.  Many of you have partaken, more of you haven’t.  It ends when January ends, as does abstinence – you might well need a bottle or six by then!

Haggis time

This time next week we’ll have celebrated Mr Burns’ night.  We’ll have asked ourselves why we don’t eat haggis, neeps and tatties on a more regular basis.  Then we’ll remember what we read in the paper about the critical shortage of courgettes and other veg from Spain and Italy at the moment, and it will dawn on us that maybe we will be having neeps and tatties more regularly, like it or not.

But it’s not all bad news.  The joys of the haggis meal are limitless.  It’s the simplest dinner party in the world – boiling and mashing whilst leaving the wee beestie to its own business in the oven means more time for socialising and champagne drinking.  There’s barely any washing up.  It tastes fabulous and when else can you open a bottle of whisky and pour it onto your food ‘as a gravy’ – Wayne, of course, thinks this rocks!

So, speaking of Whisky we can offer:

Benromach 10 year old £36.99

Speymalt Macallan 2006 £37.99

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 £38.99

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 £42.99

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 £45.99

Highland Park 2006 (Cask Strength) £50.00

Connoisseurs Choice Royal Brackla 1998 £52.99

Coopers Choice Glenrothes 1997 £69.69

MacPhail’s 21 year old £69.99

Ardmore 1996 £72.99

Should you not wish to use up all your units on hard spirit we have plenty of wine recommendations for the Scottish dinner.  Reds from the Rhone and Spain have historically given us great pleasure and with this in mind we’ll break from the norm this week and open two reds for tasting, one from each of the above regions:

Celler de Capçanes Mas Picosa de flor en flor 2013, Montsant, Spain (£13.29) – Montsant is the area surrounding Priorat, in the hills behind Tarragona, just south of Barcelona.  This is a winning blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah giving us plenty of brambly aromas with a juicy vibrant palate and a lovely fresh finish, which we think will be spot on with almost everything meaty.  Oh, and it’s organic.

Boutinot Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux’ 2013, Rhône, France (£10.99) – Common practice in the Côtes du Rhône is to bottle the best cuvées as a single named Village wine and the rest as basic Rhône Villages.  The philosophy with this wine, however, is to start with the intention of making the very best Côtes du Rhône Villages possible.  They source wine from the vineyards of named villages and enrich them with a small proportion of barrel-aged wine from Sablet, Séguret and Cairanne.  The results are fabulous, as you can taste here, with well-balanced brambly fruit and soft tannin that is bang on the money and always a crowd pleaser – can you believe we haven’t put this on a weekend tasting since April 2011?

So there you go – a round-up of the week just gone and some ideas for next week including an offer some fun wine education!

We’re off now to play a kazoo duet at the Trump inauguration – do anything for a buck and a corndog in January!

Knowing Sauvignon Blanc from Cabernet Sauvignon is a real life skill…

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Is it me or is it getting a bit chilly?

This week has been rather eventful on the news front, real, imagined or fake. Now, I think it may be my age but I find it increasingly difficult to distinguish which is which. I saw that Jay Rayner is going to approach 2017 by staying furious about food for the whole year; I may take a similar approach to the news.

If Emily Maitlis or Jon Snow say it, we’ll assume it to be mostly real news or valid opinion, if it’s Paul Merton or Ian Hislop we’ll assume the same with a humorous twist, and anybody else’s news we’ll assume to be imagined, faked or reality (which, as we can tell from the TV, bears no resemblance to the real world at all!)

It was with some surprise that we saw the A303 appear all over the news wires this week. For boys from Essex and Kent inhabiting South West London, the A303 is a road we spend a surprising amount of time talking about.

Alex has, by virtue of marriage, become rather better acquainted with the road than almost anybody else who grew up in Kent, whilst Wayne takes a similar approach to the road as he does to golf. He listens sympathetically, has a couple of key facts, and then looks blank if the conversation takes a technical turn.

The A303 reared its ‘slow on a Friday’ head this week with the news that they’re planning to put a tunnel under Stonehenge to ease the ‘slow on a Friday’ aspect of the A303. I’ll be the first to put my hand up to paying less attention in tunnel engineering class than I should have, but tunnel under Stonehenge?

Stonehenge, I seem to remember, is a collection of really big stones that arrived from Wales by unknown methods, possibly religious, a really long time ago. Given we don’t know why they turned up, or how they got there, is it not a bit dangerous to just go tunnelling underneath them. Has nobody in government heard of the Mines of Moria? Progress marches on, eh?

Wine School

We would be as bold to suggest that knowing Sauvignon Blanc from Cabernet Sauvignon is a real life skill, as much as being able to make a fish finger sandwich or mushroom risotto, let alone opening a bottle of champagne without spraying your guests.

Come along to wine school and enhance your life, we can’t help with the fish finger risotto or the mushroom sandwich but, the Sauvignon thing, we’re all over like a rash.

School starts on Wednesday 25th January at 8pm.
£150 per person.

Wine Trade

We’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that the wine trade can be a funny old business, full of quirky people and strange traditions. One of those quirky traditions is that January is stuffed to the gunnels with tastings as all the new release Burgundy is about and many suppliers take advantage of the fact.

In their infinite quirkiness several of our suppliers are having a tasting on Tuesday and as a result
we shall be closed on Tuesday 17th January.

We’ll be busy tasting wines to try and keep all your palates tingling throughout 2017. Apologies for this, we hope you understand.

Weekend Tasting

The white corner will be inhabited by Southern Dawn Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (£10.49) a cracking example of what Marlborough does best.

The red corner is also going to be inhabited by a chap from the southern half. De Bortoli Heathcote Shiraz 2014 (£12.39) which is a lovely drop of red from Heathcote, directly north from Melbourne but quite a long way inland, well balanced with blackberry, plum and spice character – very appropriate for the current coldsnap.

That’s all from us – don’t forget we’re still doing our 6 for 5 offer – so pop by , book a place on the wines school and then take six bottles home for revision!

Stay cool!

Park Vintners January 6 for 5 Offer

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Lovely, lovely, lovely, thank you very much.  Christmas was fab, New Year’s Eve was an appropriately late night and having the first few days of 2017 away from the grindstone was marvellous – how about you?

However, we are now back to the aforementioned grindstone.  Christmas decorations have come down, apart, of course, from the really obvious one that we won’t notice until mid February but that’s almost as an important part of the tradition as the big day itself.  We’ve even seen some customers – our first day back we mainly sold Champagne and fine wine, belated gifts allegedly but we think that more than one of these was a case of letting the good times roll, just a little longer!  We’ve looked at some sales figures but not too forensically – unsurprisingly Prosecco was our best selling fizz but, overall, Champagne outsold sparkling wine in December – as it should do.  Hepple Gin was still our best selling spirit, maintaining category dominance for a full year now and, as we have been predicting all year, our best seller overall, January to December, was Chateau de L’Aumerade Cru Classé Rose from Provence and at a canter.  Not a bad shopping basket that though – Rose for the summer, Prosecco for weekdays, Champagne for weekends, high days and holidays and Gin for 5pm – make mine a large one.

As you can imagine we are fully eschewing abstinence (tautology, perhaps?), certainly when it comes to alcohol – be a bit like being a vegan butcher really – although speaking of veganism, Wayne has fully immersed himself in Veganuary, because he’s clearly nuts and wants to become one, whereas right now all that Alex seems to have given up is telling the truth!

But, we know some of you will be dry January-ing so if there was any way that we could encourage you all to visit 126 Arthur Road sometime over the next 25 days, how could we incentivise you.  We’re all done on mince pies, smoked salmon and boxes of Celebrations, so perhaps we must offer something with a little more wallet appeal in these dark cold days…

6 for 5

… of course!  All we had to do was look at what we wrote in January 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 to find the appropriate mechanic.  Yes folks, as now seems traditional in this small corner of southwest London, might we present to you the Park Vintners January 6 for 5 Offer.  Similar to the ongoing Champagne and sparkling wine deal we offer all year, for January we will be extending this offer to wine too.  Why don’t we include beer as well!  But not spirits I’m afraid, all the profit on those is reserved for HMRC, unfortunately it’s our Duty.  Oh, and it’s only wines we have in stock currently.  And a couple of the Champagnes aren’t in the deal either but let’s not get caught up in all the Ts & Cs, this is a glorious offer – 6 bottles for the price of 5, mixable, a ‘16.66% off’ straight-up deal, none of this ‘cheapest bottle free’ malarkey.  Drive your cars down and fill your boots.

The other thing this deal doesn’t apply to is Wine School, sorry.  If 6 of you want to attend then I’m afraid you’ll all have to pay, although this might be a bit academic(!) since we don’t have six spaces left.  However we do still have some unallocated seats at the table so if, like our customers earlier in the week, you are still short of a Christmas gift then this could be just the ticket.  Equally, again like our other customers earlier in the week, if you fancy this as a gift for yourself, don’t let anyone judge you!


Half term 15th February – further details attached.


It would seem Hepple should be paying us a commission – two mentions in one blog!  Anyway, whilst we wait for that, how about seeing how they get on in this challenge on Tuesday January 17th up at Bar 366, which is just a hop and a skip from Clapham Junction or a shorter trip from the 156 bus stop at Plough Road.  Either way, they’ve done extremely well to make the shortlist of 5 Gins and well, frankly, as Victoria Moore once said, when writing in the Daily Telegraph “it might be the best Martini gin I’ve ever tasted.”  You never know, you might even see us there – Tuesday night Martini’s, let the good times roll!

That’s it from us – we’ll have a white and a red open tonight and tomorrow, we just haven’t had the energy to choose it yet, what with this new vegan diet…