Archive for June, 2017

How’s your week been?

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How’s your week been? Ours hasn’t been bad, we’ve had a couple of meetings, tasted and listed some new wines, been to the pub. Mostly though, we’ve been moving boxes and catching up with Glastonbury on the interweb. We’ve enjoyed Foo Fighters, Chic, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Warpaint and couldn’t help but wonder if Liam Gallagher is growing up in his old age. Anyway, that’s enough of last week, looking onwards and upwards sees a jam packed agenda.

You’ll have seen the Wimbledon branded cars driving around on their practice runs the last two weeks (I’m sure they used smaller cars in the past, maybe saving on hotel rooms?). This can of course mean only one thing: Wimbledon fortnight is upon us! The Co-op will have sold out of all useful lunch items for the next few weeks so Alex and I will be on the microwave stew or Uncle Ben’s rice packs. More strawberries will be consumed in SW19 than the rest of the country, and Murray will likely have a five setter that’ll make us all late for supper. Sadly we’ve had no luck in the ballot this year, so we’ll be joining a queue at some point if we can manage it.

Greatest race in the world starts this week too. Saturday sees the start in Dusseldorf, a 14km time trial mostly along the Rhine, so nice and flat. It may well see Chris Froome take some early seconds out of the Grand Classification contenders.

I’m excited about this year’s Tour (isn’t he always?) as it’s a different kind of terrain to the last couple of years. Starting with tomorrow’s time trial, the penultimate stage is a time trial too, and there are quite a few long, relatively flat stages that should give us breakaways to cheer. Whilst all eyes maybe on Froome, Quintana, Porte and Aru for the GC, keep your eyes out for Simon Yates, a very strong contender for the White Jersey this year. You’ll recall his twin brother Adam wore it last year. As always, stay upright and avoid the motorbikes for three weeks to stay in the mix!

There is of course, to accompany your breakfast, a British & Irish Lions vs All Blacks fixture too. I’m not sure I should comment much after last week’s debacle but I am enjoying Mr Gatland’s continual confounding of the armchair team pickers. Farrell and Sexton have got to be an exciting prospect, surely?

Anyway, I started off by saying we’d bought some new wine so, moving swiftly on, I’ll tell you about the Volcanico Pais 2015 (£15.99), from Chile, or perhaps Samurai Shiraz 2016 (£10.99), which apparently tastes “like Australian sunshine and Ninjas” though I’d suggest black raspberry and eucalyptus is closer to the mark. It may be that Pinot Noir is more your thing, in which case I may mention Domaine Faiveley Mercurey La Framboisière 2015 (£23.99), which really does have a strawberry like character to its fruit, particularly in such a fine vintage as this.

I’ve mentioned three very different wines from three very different grapes and three very different countries. Want to know more about their differentiators?

Sign up to our Wine School

Autumn Term runs Wednesday evenings 4th Oct- 15th Nov with half term on 25th Oct.  

You’ll taste around 60 wines and the six week course costs £150.

Drop us a line or phone 020 8944 5224 to book your place.

If you are of an impatient nature then do not fret. We will have some wine open to taste this weekend, as usual.

We’ve had a look and none of our German wines are from Dusseldorf so we have instead decided to open a red and a white from the Pyrenees, made by an Englishman who is married to a Kiwi. We think that covers nearly all the bases, so roll up to the podium Domaine Treloar.

Domaine Treloar is a small family run estate based in Trouillas and we think they make possibly the best wines in the Roussillon. You can read more about them here:

In the White Jersey will be La Terre Promise 2015 (£16.99)Named after the Bruce Springsteen song “Promised Land”. A natural wine made from Macabeu (Viura), Grenache Gris and Carignan Blanc. Nothing is added during its conversion from juice to wine.”

Whilst the boot of the Commissars red car will be stocked with Le Ciel Vide 2015 (£11.49) Named after a Bruce Springsteen song “Empty Sky” which, for us expressed most clearly the memories of September 11th. This unoaked red is made from Syrah and Grenache.”

That’s it from us folks, have a great weekend!

Hot off the press!

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, this week we’ve seen Andy Murray angle for a few extra days of Peppa Pig and training, rather than tournament play in the torturing heat.

Hottest day in June since 1976, they said. “In 1976 I was wearing short trousers and no tie” said Wayne. Plus ça change!

A couple of weeks ago we touched upon the fact that there was a British & Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand happening, and that breakfast was a difficult time to watch rugby.  Well we’re on the eve of the First Test. Six games of practice in the provinces has seen the Lions on the right side of the score line 4 times, and they appear, to this commentator, to be growing in confidence.

We’ve now looked at the squad that’s going to excite our breakfast tomorrow morning and, frankly, are somewhat concerned at cereal spillage. Whilst we’re a bit surprised to see George North making the sandwiches, we’re quite excited to see how the game pans out, with what appears, in some corners, to be a controversial team selection. So, set aside the Rice Krispies, we think this game could be more suited to three Weetabix!

This week we had The Queen’s Speech, only without pomp and circumstance! The crown arrived, not on one’s head as one might expect, but in its own car, atop a cushion to be placed in front of Her Maj. so as not to spoil the day. More of a Queen’s post-it we thought. Apparently, it has absolutely nothing to do with the diary clash with Royal Ascot and lots to do with random, unplanned elections, just like in 1974.

In our own attempts at avoiding pomp and circumstance we’ve seen that no matter how hard you try, a bicycle helmet cannot ride a bike without the relevant person attached to it.

Anyway, with all this setting out agendas we thought it wise to do the same.

Wine School – Autumn Term

Wednesday 4th October till Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 8pm.

£150 per person.

Wednesday 25th October off for half term.

Wine Tastings

Thursday 5th October at 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20

Thursday 2nd November at 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20

Thursday 30th November at 8pm – Christmas Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20

Thursday 7th December at 8pm – Champagne & Sparkling Tasting – £30

Tasting This Weekend

We’ve dug out our old Linguaphone cassettes and, after laughing at Wayne’s accent, put them away again. That said, the wines this week will all be speaking French, even if Wayne isn’t!

The coin blanc will host Les Grands Presbytères Muscadet Sur Lie 2014 (£10.99). Winemaker Nelly Marzelleau’s first vintage was at the age of 18 and she’s definitely got the hang of it, as you’ll taste here. Wild yeast ferment, old vine grapes, and many months of ageing on the lees all combine rather nicely to give us a lovely crisp drinker.

A la derrière de porte rouge will be Cotes du Rhone Villages ‘Le Coteaux’ 2014 (£10.99), a deliciously brambly number that is very tasty with all manner of barbecued items.

Au milieu we’ll be sporting a delicious pale pink number that goes by the name of Chateau de l’Aumerade (£13.99 each, or £72 for 6), by a long shot our best-selling wine of the year.

We think all three would make a great partnership to a spot of Glastonbury watching on the TV. Wellies are, of course, optional.

Bon Weekend!

We Need To Talk About Sherry

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So here’s a question – what’s in a name?

Take the name Terry, for example.

In the worlds of media, entertainment, music, literature, chocolate and Archbishop’s Special Envoys, we’ve got Terry & June, Terry McCann, Terry Thomas, Terry Hall, Terry Pratchett, Terry’s Gilliam and Jones, Terry’s All Gold and Chocolate Orange, Terry Wogan, Terry Nutkins, Terry Waite, Terry O’Neill, Terry Christian and Teri Hatcher.  Hooray.

Whilst over in sport we’ve got Terry Butcher, John Terry, Ross Terry (who he?), Terry Griffiths and Terry Venables, to name but a few.  Many of them were household names for large parts of their careers but equally as many of them are now consigned to history.  I asked my son to name someone called Terry and he came back with Terrymasalata.  Thanks.

Conclusion: Terry’s not a fashionable name anymore but does that make it any less good?

How about we try Jerry/Gerry next?

Gerry Adams, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Gerry Anderson, Gerry Francis, Geri Halliwell, Gerry Rafferty for the G’s, whilst under the letter J we have Jerry Bruckheimer, Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Springer Jerry can, Jerry Maguire, Jerry Rice, Tom & Jerry, Jerry Dammers, Jerry Garcia, Jerry Hall, and of course, Jerry Lee Lewis.  I didn’t ask my son this time but yet again a lot of old timers in there who don’t necessarily cross the younger generations path.

All very diverting but so what, I hear you say.

The other day we were ruminating on the perpetual failure of one of our favourite tipples, Sherry, to achieve everything it promises and step out of the fortified wine shadows into the limelight.  It’s a glorious drink, much beloved of the wine trade and their friends but it struggles to spread its appeal further.

Which got me to thinking, is the suffix ‘–erry’ to blame?  Does having an ‘erry’ in your name create a certain impression that perhaps relates to bygone times or naffness?  Blackberry, no longer the force in handsets that it used to be; cross channel ferry, now superseded by Eurostar; Mary Berry – exactly…

Let’s face it, how many famous people called Sherry can you name?  We thought we had one with Wimbledon Hockey star and Ed Sheeran girlfriend Cherry Seaborn but as you can see, she is actually called Cherry, so that doesn’t work; really the only famous Sherries are Pale Cream, Sweet and Harvey’s.

Anyway, our ruminating came to nothing, short of deciding that perhaps it could rebrand itself, losing the ‘–erry’ and becoming Sh-auvignon Blanc or Sh-rosé to improve sales, which was clearly not very helpful.

More helpful was Wayne’s idea to join in with Sherry Festival 2015 2016 2017 which has been going on for the last week or so and culminates this weekend.  His strategy was quite simple – put up a Sherry display in store, decorate the window with Sherry based memorabilia, wear a Sherry related polo-shirt and open lots of Sherry.  I like this man’s approach and that’s why he’s my business partner!

So, on show this weekend we will have:

Equipo Navazos Fino En Rama (37.5cl) – £10.99

Fernando de Castilla Classic Manzanilla (37.5cl) – £7.99

Fernando de Castilla Antique Palo Cortado (50cl) – £34.99

Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado (50cl) – £30.99

Fernando de Castilla Classic Oloroso (75cl) – £14.99

Cesar Florido Cruz del Mar Cream (37.5cl) – £8.99

Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado (37.5cl) – £8.99

Pedro Ximenez Colosía (37.5cl) – £15.99

What a spread, I can’t wait!

Interestingly, whilst everyone claims to prefer the dry styles and be somewhat dismissive of the sweet styles, referencing old ladies and blue rinses usually, our best-selling pair are the Moscatel and the Cream!  Nowt so queer as folk, as Wayne might say.

Please come and join us any time today or tomorrow, see if you prefer the sweet or the dry and help us in our crusade to save Terry and Jerry and, above all, Sherry!!


The Perils Of Being Early, New Hall Bacchus and Powers Merlot

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Aaaaagh – the folly of writing the blog the evening before…. sometimes nefarious goings on in the darkest hours of the night can come along to make an absolute nonsense of what previously seemed half decent!

So, with time pressing hard, we have decided to plough ahead with what we wrote and be done with – the orginal email, written on Thursday, is below in normal font, our edits from today are in italics, let’s see how we get on…

Not wishing to get political but who saw that coming!

Blimey, that was more prescient than we intended. 

Moving swiftly on, in spite of all the Champagne corks popping last night, it would seem that the Champagne houses, particularly the biggest beasts such as Nicolas Feuillatte, are struggling a little.

They are the third largest champagne brand in the world, and reportedly last year sold 10.4 million bottles the world over, a drop in sales of 4%, or 400,000 bottles, on the previous year.  In money terms this was a loss of €13 million.  Now, apparently, this drop in sales was “solely” due to the “marked decline” in UK volume sales of Champagne – no mincing words there and one has to wonder where these sales have gone.  Talking to our chap from Thienot the other day, he too mentioned that the British market has become a harder nut to crack over the last few years, with sales growing very slowly and the bigger brands acting more aggressively.

Small growers haven’t reported similar declines, for example our favourite Moutard chaps produce somewhere in the region of 560,000 bottles per annum, perhaps it’s them who have taken the Feuillatte sales….

Happy with all of that – the facts haven’t changed since yesterday.

Or perhaps it’s Laura?

This Saturday is, according to our sources at Mumsnet (don’t ask…), WORLD GIN DAY.  Now in its 9th year it is a global celebration of all things Gin on the second Saturday of June.  I know, we’d never come across it before either, so thanks MN (see, we even have the lingo… what have we become).

Anyway, back to Saturday.  World Gin Day, yattedy yattedy ya.  A simple idea of getting people together all around the world with a legitimate excuse to drink some gin, whether it’s in a cocktail, G&T or neat.  Nice.

This all seems good but I have a feeling the wheels are about to come off…

And now for the bit that makes us seem clever-clever when actually we’re not.  Months ago we asked Laura from Little Bird, the gin of Peckham, to come in and do a tasting with us, and of course, you – what better way prepare for Saturday than to have some rehearsal gins on Friday evening.  Clever-clever, if we’d had any inkling of the existence of World Gin Day before 5pm on Thursday…

Laura will be here from about 5.30pm for a couple of hours and is under strict instruction to parry any political comments or questions with the words ‘try some of my Gin, it’s delicious!’

Laura has, unfortunately ,had to duck out of tonight’s tasting, citing personal circumstances but promises to be here in two weeks time, Friday 23rd June – don’t worry, we’ll remind you!  Apologies all round….

Oh, and to explain the slightly obtuse ‘Or perhaps it’s Laura?’ comment above: it would seem that whilst a glass of Champagne used to be the aperitif of choice in many restaurants, bars and hotels in the past, it is now more common for a cocktail or spirit based drink to be the choice before a meal, and Gin is leading this charge.

So, yes, it’s Laura.

Yep, that works still.

eto update

If you signed up to the eto newsletter beforehand you will already know that the chaps went live at midday on Tuesday.  You may not know though that they fulfilled their funding needs within 32 hours!  Astonishing.  You can still sign up and join in the fun and the really great news is that the project will go ahead.  Pob lwc!

Lots of sport this weekend, so be warned that Alex might be distractedly trying to coordinate Rugby/Cricket/Tennis watching whilst ensuring Wayne doesn’t get distracted by the Criterium du Dauphiné – who will win?!

So, Gin is over the yardarm at 5.30pm, Alex and I will be at the top of the queue… see you there!


Wayne & Alex

Still good news about eto and we can re-use this last gin bit in two weeks time.

However, this does leave us short on what to taste this weekend.  We, of course, will have our usual range of gins open should you still want to rehearse in time for tomorrow. 

On the wine side, as we missed the whole of English Wine Week in the fog of half term, we have decided to open New Hall Bacchus Reserve 2015 (£12.99) which comes from East Anglia, the posh name for Essex it would seem.  Anyway we find the gentle elderflower notes really quite more-ish so don’t be backwards in coming forwards.

For the red, for no reason better qualified than we quite fancied it, we have Powers Merlot 2012 (£13.99) which has voyaged all the way from Columbia Valley, Washington and is a constant reminder of how polished Merlot can be!

Finally, all next week we will be tasting and talking about Sherry here in the shop, as part of the Sherry Wines Sherry Festival 2017 – come and grab a copita!

That’s it from us – we’ll be opening later on Tuesday just so you know, we’re in town for a tasting over lunchtime but we’ll be back by four.

Edit done.  Press send.

Provincial Barbarians, Lambrusco and eto Decanters

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week finds us all celebrating the beast that is half term. Unless, of course, you’re in the middle of GCSE’s in which case, stop reading this and get on with your studying, you’re not even supposed to be reading this!

For those of us not involved in exams there is plenty of sport to look at this weekend. It all kicks off during your breakfast on Saturday,  as the British & Irish Lions kicks off in style against New Zealand’s Provincial Barbarians at 8.35am our time. Somehow breakfast seems a bit early for rugby to me, but maybe that’s because I’m used to watching it in the pub!

At the Oval we have Sri Lanka and South Africa slogging it out in the ICC Champions Trophy (cricket if you were wondering).  The tournament started Thursday (with England beating Bangladesh by 8 wickets) and culminates with the final on Sunday 18th June.

On the golf front, Tiger Woods tough year got even worse when he underestimated the ‘may cause drowsiness’ line on his medication. Personally I’m not entirely sure what was gained by releasing the video of the incident, but at least a website somewhere got more hits…

In the tennis we’re at Roland Garos, where Johanna Konta’s clay gremlins struck again, sending her out in the first round, whilst Andy Murray is through to the third round to face Juan Martin del Potro. Novak Djokovic is hoping the presence of ‘super coach’ Andre Agassi relocates his mojo.

In real sports we’d offer our congratulations to Tom Dumoulin, who became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia, snatching victory from Nairo Quintana in a time trial on the last day. This weekend sees the Criterium du Dauphiné starting, always viewed as a bit of a warm up for the Tour de France so many of the big players are lining up. Va va Froome.

On the political front it’s all shouty, shouty, strong many, few stable, poorly rehearsed and hiding in the shed. Still, it’ll be over this time next week!

Wine wise, as has become a bit of a tradition whilst Alex is away, a couple of new wines turned up this week. Vigna Marina Coppi Sant’ Andrea Barbera 2015 (£21.99) is a wine we’ve been trying to get on the shelf for a while. They say “all comes to he who waits”, and this is a lovely polished and rounded Barbera with cherry and wild strawberry fruit and a lovely freshness to the finish. As an aside Marina is the daughter of Fausto Coppi, the first man to win both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year! The estate is run by Marina and her son Francesco.

Staying with an Italian theme, that Lambrusco we teased you all with a while back is here too. Villa Cialdini Lambrusco Graparossa (£15.49) is from an estate south of Modena owned by the Chiarli family since 1860. Since the construction of a state of the art winery in 2002 they have been producing top quality Lambrusco that is way more delicious and moreish than we imagined, and also the perfect partner to some barbecued chicken.

We’ve also listed a local Vodka (is 41 miles local?). Blackdown Sussex Vodka (£28.99) is the first Vodka to be produced in Sussex. Made from 100% British wheat grain, it is copper pot distilled, and then charcoal filtered seven times to create a smooth and refined Vodka, and finished with a hint of Sussex Silver Birch sap to add a delicate sweetness. The Silver Birch sap is tapped once a year in early spring and is sourced within the 40 acres of woodland which surround Blackdown.


We’ve just heard from Tom Cotton at eto. We promised to keep you up to date when the Kickstarter campaign happened for his wine decanter, so here’s what we know…

****Hot off the press eto launch date Tuesday 6th June 2017!!!****

eto HQ is excited to announce eto will be going live on Kickstarter at midday GMT on Tuesday 6th June….*klaxon*

There will be a limited number of etos at ‘Super Early Bird’ heavily discounted prices – they will be snapped up in hours – so don’t delay in choosing your reward! If you miss these specials don’t worry the Kickstarter price is still a bargain.

We have crunched the numbers and set ourselves the minimum goal we need to tool, manufacture and ship eto to the UK for final distribution. The minimum amount we need is £55,000 and our Kickstarter campaign will last 30 days.  But as we said those Super Early Bird & Early Bird specials when they’re gone they’re gone, so don’t delay!

NB Kickstarter is an all or nothing crowd funding site, so if we don’t make our goal there will be no etos produced.

If you want to get involved on Tuesday 6th, then sign up before hand to the eto newsletter at: in order to receive the link to the Kickstarter site on Tuesday 6th.

Those of you familiar with Kickstarter may prefer to search their website on the day. The choice is yours!

Tasting this Weekend

Attitude Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (£13.99) from the Pascal Jolivet estate will be holding court in the white corner, crisp with great concentration of fruit flavours, perfectly balanced with herb notes, a mineral touch and a crisp, vibrant finish. We’d suggest some sea bass with some roast Jersey Royals.

The red corner will be up till the early hours as it hosts Vivir Sin Dormir 2015 (£12.39) 100% Monastrell.  100% Organic.  A real favourite of ours, Monastrell, very much the main grape in Jumilla which is inland, west of Alicante.  Enormously appealing ripe red and spicy black fruits abound, with just a gentle grip of tannin.  Fabulous finish and a typically Spanish red – works with all manner of food choices, we were thinking perhaps something over coals…

Finally, we renewed our electricity contract this week, and are dead chuffed to announce that our lights are on, the wine is chilled and the till powered by 100% renewable electricity.

That’s it from us this week folks!