Archive for February, 2017

A Wedding Proposal…

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, how does it feel now that the dust has settled and the wonderful reality is starting to set in?

I’m referring, of course, to that romantic proposal you received on Valentine’s Day last week!  Did he get down on bended knee?  Had she made your favourite pudding?  Were you in the pub?  Up a mountain?  On a beach?  Was there a ring at the ready or was it an impromptu number fashioned out of paper clips?  And did you say yes?!

Assuming that the answer was in the affirmative and that everyone has been told (heaven forfend we spill the beans before Aunt Phillida knows) then now you have a whole set of new challenges to face.

The prospect of a dress that costs more than your student loan debts and will hold its value in much the same way.

A tailored morning suit that will be prove to be a superb investment over and over again when you go to Ascot and the Opera and all the other society events during the season.  Except you don’t go to Ascot and you had the suit fitted when you had been going to the gym for months in preparation for the wedding and now, well, now you don’t seem to find as much time for weights and treadmills.

Soon, you’ll become an expert in marquee dimensions and hard wearing carpet; in flowers and place settings; in etiquette; in invitation writing; in smoked salmon mousse and many, many forms of chicken; in canapés; in cakes, too; perhaps even in wine and Champagne?

What we do

It’s here that we can help.  In the hundred years since we joined the wine trade we have helped out with all manner of weddings and their wines.  Deliveries to restaurants, hotels, marquees, fields, barns, beach-houses – you name it, we’ve rolled up in the trusty Volvo with a bootfull of red, white and fizz, some beer and a couple of nice bottles for the best man and ushers.  It’s what we do.

So if you, or anyone in your near vicinity, are planning on getting married soon and are looking for top notch wedding wines, we really should be involved.  We’ll match wines to food and to budget; we’ll then arrange a tasting of these potential wines with you, which is always the fun part; we’ll advise on quantities and potential pitfalls and we’ll deliver in the trusty Volvo.  It’s what we do!

What else do we do?

We run a shop – as I think most of you know!  The other day a chap called Tom walked in to this shop of ours and we had a chat.  Tom is a product designer and has come up with a rather novel and interesting approach to wine preservation that rather appealed to us.  He was going to send us some notes about his product but I suspect is up to his eyeballs in silicon and glass somewhere in his lab, so I’ll try and give you the gist.

In simple terms, it’s a redesigned bottle that you pour your bottle of wine into.  You then pour and drink from this, as you would normally, and when you have finished for the night but not finished the wine, there is a clever plunger action that expels all the air, thus preserves the wine.  I tasted a bottle that had been in this contraption for 7 days against a bottle of the same wine that had been opened 5 minutes previously and I have to say there was barely anything between the two wines – in fact the 7 day old one I slightly preferred!

The product is still being road tested, which is where you come in.  On 10th March, on the Friday evening, Tom will be in with a wine that has been in his product for 7 days and we will taste it against a wine we will have opened that evening – the same wine, of course.  Ideally, we’ll do a white and a red dependent on how many prototypes Tom has available and it would be great if you could come and help us taste the wines and give your opinion.  Don’t worry, we’ll remind you again over the next few weeks but thought it might be good to introduce you to the concept now.

It’s called eto, by the way, and here’s the website:

eto | wine preservation decanter

Decant | Serve | Preserve – eto: wine preservation decanter. For wine as fresh as the first pour; tomorrow, next week, and beyond. Coming soon to Kickstarter.

And when we’re not doing that, what do we do?

My business making clothes out of cheese has gone bust – Turns out that fromage frays.

The first of Wine and Cheese tasting of 2017 went off last night with all the usual hitches.  Having done over 40 of these now, this is still Wayne’s best joke by far but, apart from this, it was a fantastic evening.  If you didn’t manage to get a space here yesterday, we still have a couple of seats left for the next one on Thursday 30th March and 6 places for the one on Thursday 25th May.  Both start at 8pm and both cost £20 per person – bring a joke.

And finally, what do we do at the weekend?

We open bottles of wine to help ease away the worries of the week.  This week we’ll be opening a white from Chile and a red from Portugal.

Aromo Viognier 2015, Maule Valley, Chile – £8.49 – We really rate this wine and have been selling it for almost 10 years now, one way or another.  Consistently great value and great quality this has lovely peachy-apricot fruit characters and a nice crisp finish.  Mellow and ripe and a great foodmatcher.

Ciconia 2015, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal – £10.49.  A Ciconia is a kind of stork that settles on the plains here.  There’s no bird in the wine though, it’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Aragonez.  Plenty of berry fruit on the nose, spices and rich dark fruit on the palate with a bit of grip from the Touriga.  Something rustic on the grill would complement this nicely, perhaps not stork though…

And that’s us, done!

Cheese Wine and Chewie

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

If I may be so bold, might I suggest that this half term week seems to have instigated a small return to the normal?

There have been school trips, Instagram photos of mountains with snow on them, sports in the park and cinemas visited. Internationally, Mr Flynn has discovered that if you get caught telling porkies to the boss there are consequences, and we all suspect the kids could have warned him!

Future Star Wars movies may be in jeopardy though, due to reports that Harrison Ford maybe about to lose his pilot’s licence. As we went to press, despite several attempts, we had been unable to contact Chewbacca.

On the sports front we have No Nations Rugby this weekend (or a rest week if you prefer!), Arsenal managed their usual capitulation to Bayern Munich, and in a surprise move it would appear Barcelona used the same playbook. Joe Root is the new Alastair Cook, and as we move closer to winter testing, Mercedes have announced former Ferrari whizz, James Allison, as technical director. Clearly they’re keen to hold on to that world domination thing they have going on!

In wine news, Cliff Richard’s estate, Quinta do Miradoura which has been on the market since last year has just seen €3 million knocked of the price. If you have a spare €6.5 million under the bed you can snap up 11 bedrooms with sea and vineyard views, private pool and tennis court and all the winery and equipment too. Form an orderly queue!

More seriously, in a sad day for Swartland wineries it appears that the Swartland Municipality is opening up part of the Paardeberg for sand mining. Despite a two year battle involving lawyers, local, regional and national authorities the Municipality issued two licences this month, and  with the precedent set there will be little to stop a multiplication of mining activity in what, until now, was one of the leading regions in modern South African wine.  Progress, eh!

Wine & Cheese

The February and April dates are sold out but we still have a few places each for:-

Thursday 30th March and Thursday 25th May.

As usual an 8pm start and £20 per person.

Tasting this weekend.

The sudden balmy turn in the weather hasn’t lessened our quest for some wine with sunshine running through them, and this week we’ll head toward the Mediterranean end of France.

Standing in the white corner will be our chum Domaine Antugnac Chardonnay 2015 (£11.99), a cheeky little number from the plateau above Limoux. No oak at all just sun ripened Chardonnay grapes and the tip top winemaking.

The red corner will be occupied by a charming new red called Jean. Jean Gamay Noir 2015 (£13.99) is a new discovery for us, lovely spiced cherry fruits and medium body. Come and give it a taste and let us know what you think.


There are just a few days until St Valentine’s Day – we consider it a community service to remind you all – let’s face it, getting in trouble on a Tuesday is less than ideal!

Friday, February 10th, 2017


Ayes to the left and noes to the right – not as easy as they say!

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So that’s it, is it? We’ve had a couple of days debating a series of ayes to the left and noes to the right and now the timetable is all ready for the action ahead. We’re expecting some hard knocks along the way and the possibility of some disappointment, too.

First off though, we’ll tell a remarkable tale of healing. This tale, whilst not as incredible as the idea of a former security guard becoming President or  a former property developer hanging up the phone in an apparent huff with the leader of another country, is nonetheless amazing.

No, no, no, readers, the Australian in this tale is called Eddie and the remarkable tale of healing is that of Joe Marler, who looks likely to start for the England rugby team despite suffering a fractured leg barely a month ago.  Tough as old boots, these rugby fellows!

The Six Nations starts on Saturday, with the action starting at 2.30 with Scotland hosting Ireland at Murrayfield. A chance for a comfort break and a quick visit to the wine shop before England stick it to host the French at Twickenham, at 5pm. We round off with Italy hosting Wales in the Sunday game, at 2pm.

In other sports, local giant killers Sutton United FC, having already squashed the cup dreams of AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United, are relishing their 5th round draw at home to Arsenal, who, in the form they displayed this week, must be terrified.

In proper sports, the Tour of Dubai is proving rather eventful. Mark Cavendish came 3rd on the opening days racing, having ridden the last 4km with a puncture. Then, on day 3, Andrei Grivko was kicked off the race and fined 200 Swiss Francs for punching Marcel Kittel. Kittel commented: “I guess Grivko had a coffee too much this morning”.

In other news, we find out that Francis Ford Coppola’s wines will be those poured at this year’s Oscars. In classic Hollywood understatement: ‘What seems logical to me is that if anyone’s going to provide wine to the Academy, it ought to be the Coppola family,’ Coppola said. ‘We were one of the earliest of the film people to get into the wine business; we have the most established, broad-based wine business of any film celebrity and, as a family, I imagine we have won as many nominations and wins as any.’  We understand around 2100 bottles will be consumed on the evening, not a bad sale, we thought!

Whilst we’re on the subject of wine, the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that we put some dates in the diary for some Cheese & Wine tastings. First up is Thursday 23rd February at 8pm and I couldn’t help wondering if it might make for a suitable gift for Valentine’s Day. £20 per person gets you a seat at the table , cheese, wine and crackers. Surely that’s more fun than a bunch of roses!

Whilst we’re on the subject of sweethearts, we couldn’t help but notice that Dame Vera Lynn is celebrating her 100th birthday by releasing a new album. It contains guest appearances by Aled Jones, Alfie Boe and Alexander Armstrong; stories of a follow-up featuring Bruno Mars, Billy Idol and the Bay City Rollers are unconfirmed.

We’ll be raising a glass to Dame Vera this weekend with Handcrafted Gruner Vetliner 2016 by Martin & Anna Arndorfer (£14.49). They are particularly lazy in the winery  and this delicious white wine is made with a real minimum of intervention: unfiltered, unfined, and with a gentle spritz. Fresh, with a real, life-affirming zestiness.

On the red front, we’ll go a little more mainstream with Boekenhoutskloof’s Chocolate Block 2015 (£23.99 or 6 for £120), a rather delightful little number that you may have heard of. This vintage, all of the grapes are from Swartland.

That’s it from us, Dame Vera deposing Pete Tong’s Classic House from the top of the album chart might be fun.

We’ll meet again!