Archive for July, 2017

Big Brother is watching you!

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As I sit here by the pool, 30 degrees registering on the mercury, a sea vista to the front of me, the rolling hills behind me and a Tinto de Verano to my right, a wave of nausea nostalgia washes over me as I wonder what is going on back in Blighty.  No television here, no English language radio, the buzzing and clicking of cicadas only supplanted by the whining of mopeds, the shrieks from the tennis court and the gentle popping of corks…

Is there anyone left in Wimbledon Park, I wonder?  Certainly, when I joined the airport queue at 4pm last Friday there seemed to be a lot of people in front of me and very soon double the amount behind me.  The flight was full but fortunately no unaccompanied teenagers were booted off, nobody tried to open the door at 30,000 feet and we departed well within the 38 hour delay record that was in the process of being set by Thomson up in Aberdeen.  Arrival was suitably sun drenched and sweaty, the hire car was a ‘similar’ model to the one we had requested and thus smaller of course, whilst the offer of extra insurance and a GPS was dismissed by my wife with some very agricultural language not usually heard on the Costa!

By Saturday, happily ensconced in the hammock, it was time to review activities back in Arthur Road, via the newly installed antler mounted CCTV cameras that Wayne didn’t know about until now (assuming he can read this email whilst out on his bike).  Initially I thought I had the screen on pause: no cars were passing, no pedestrians hoved into view, nothing stirred.  Then Wayne wandered across the shop, put some beer in the fridge, stood in the doorway surveying his domain, shrugged, turned around and went back to the counter where, I suspect, the Tour de France was being surreptitiously viewed.  At this juncture I fear I might have dozed off for an hour or two, a combination of a un-chlorinated chicken luncheon and such desperately uncompelling viewing but, when I awoke at around 6pm your time, there was Wayne, once again in the doorway, followed by the same shrug and, entertainingly, a very Jackson-esque moonwalk back to the counter!

Thus it would seem that there is someone left in Wimbledon Park, his name is Wayne and he’s keen for customers or, at the very least, a dance partner!

So, as I said, in the absence of television and English language broadcast I can only guess at what has been making the news this week, so here goes.  Trump has tweeted something inflammatory that has caused the Republicans to bury their heads in their hands once again; a footballer, talented but no Ronaldo, has been sold or potentially sold for 40 times Gary Lineker’s salary; we are struggling in the cricket; some scare story about Brexit, probably linked to border crossings, as it’s holiday time; articles about how boring/exciting Jordan Spieth/Chris Froome/Joe Root is; Theresa May; Jeremy Corbyn; Southern Rail; Lady Di…. am I close?


Having watched enough CCTV footage to convince me, I have decided that Wayne can take an early bath this Saturday, and in fact every Saturday through until the end of August.  So, he will be closing the doors promptly at 7pm tomorrow, and the 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th August too – you have been warned!

Before he closes, however, he will be busy selling spaces on our 6 week Wine School that starts at the beginning of October (details attached) and will also be tasting a couple of wines with all you lucky punters still in SW19.

The white this week is one we haven’t had on taste for over a year, which is very surprising since it’s a wine that oozes summertime: Leira Seca Alvarinho e Trajadura Vinho Verde 2016, Minho, Portugal – £11.49.  Alvarinho and Trajadura are grown on the sloping banks of the Minho River, which is the natural border between Spain and Portugal.  It’s as deliciously crisp as you’d imagine with lemon and lime citrus notes, lovely stone fruits flavours and a crisp long finish.

Staying in northern Iberia but at the eastern end, the red of choice this week is Celler de Capçanes Mas Collet 2015, Montsant, Spain – £13.99.  Once you’ve crossed the French Border, skirted around Barcelona and hit the outskirts of Tarragona, take a hard right into the hills and you will hit the region of Montsant after about 20 minutes.  Its relative proximity to the French border means that Carignan and Grenache are still very much in charge here but not without a fine showing from Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aged for 9 months in barrique this is deliciously rich, smooth, balanced, polished and frankly, utterly delicious.

And that’s it from me for now, it’s hot and I need a swim.  If anyone is in Arthur Road today or tomorrow do pop in and see Wayne, have a glass of wine and a dance and don’t forget to wave at the deer on top of the beer fridge!


Wayne & Alex

PS if anyone owns a small business, read this link, I think we’ve all been there!

The Park Vintners Gender Gap

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Running a wine shop seems sometimes to be a series of ebbs and flows, known jobs and unknown jobs.  Clearly there’s the usual, buy wine, sell wine, chat with customer bits as you’d expect. Then there is the other stuff.

This week, as expected, Alex completed our quarterly VAT return, Elaine from Z-Group came and checked that he’d put all his decimal places in the right place and had the correct receipts.

Unexpectedly, Wayne found himself wielding sandpaper and paintbrush to protect the flaking window ledge from the weather.

We found ourselves writing some tasting notes, doing a couple of deliveries but also wondering why a photograph of a signature is less acceptable than a scanned signature to the finance industry. Ultimately we bought a stamp and sent a real signature!

Importantly though, we have no glaring pay gaps that the government feels we need to share with the newspapers. Despite the myriad of jobs and responsibilities both of us are paid at the same rate. Very much an equal opportunity employer is Park Vintners, with no gender pay gap at all. Rufus the spaniel regards himself very much as a volunteer, definitely not an unpaid intern! He is very happy to keep an eye on the back garden in exchange for the occasional ear scratch.

In sporting endeavours, the cricket was a complete debacle, with South Africa running amok to level the series. England’s selectors have turned to Essex batsman Tom Westley in the hope of some runs.

In the footie, England beat Scotland 6-0 in their opening game of the Women’s Euros. No gender gap in Scotland then, but perhaps the English men’s team should watch and learn!

In the golf, The Open has started at Royal Birkdale with many hopes on young local boy Tommy Fleetwood.  It seems Dustin Johnson finds favour with the bookies, though Wayne thinks it could be Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson providing the excitement on Sunday. But what does he know about golf?

In real sport the most open Tour de France in years is drawing close to the Champs Élysée. Will Chris Froome win his fourth tour or will Romain Bardet give France their first winner since 1985, when Bernard Hinault was victorious?

Unexpectedly, we have four places on this week’s Cheese & Wine Tasting.

Thursday 27th July at 8pm – £20 per person.

Let us know if you’d like to come along and join the fun.

After this one, the next Cheese & Wine Tasting is Thursday 5th October.

Wine School

It may feel like ages but September will be here before you know it and with it the start of the new term of Wine School.  For those of you who don’t know about this we’ve attached some details but, in a nut shell, over the course of six weeks you will learn about and taste around 6o wines.  You’ll fall in love with Chardonnay once more, discover life beyond Malbec and be able to spot a corked wine from 5 paces.  You’ll do a lot more than this obviously and all for only £150.

Sign up today, before you go away.

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

£150 per person.

Wednesday 25th October off for half term.

Currently we have plenty of spaces left, so tell your friends too!

Tasting this weekend

With a nod to the crowded skies filled with departing holidaymakers this weekend we thought we’d crack open a bottle of the Max Ferd. Richter Zeppelin Riesling 2015 (£14.49). Crisp, zesty apple and peach flavour with a finely focused slate character, typical for the vineyard  this is great as an aperitif wine or with light seafood and poultry dishes but, more significantly, is a great wine to persuade people that Riesling is an enjoyment not a punishment!

In the red corner we’ll be opening Castello di Luzzano Umore Nero Pinot Nero 2015 (£15.99). It’s a new listing, we’ve been looking at Pinot Noir’s from Italy for ages and struggled, if I’m honest, to find one we were happy with. Little did we know that the entire time this was right under our nose and we’d just never tasted it!

So come and enjoy a glass with us this evening or tomorrow whilst you book up your seat for the Wine & Cheese tasting next week!

Le Volte, Bastille Day and London Cure Smoked Salmon

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The week has continued as last week left us, with difficult choices having to be made between tennis and cycling on the television, but you’ll be pleased to learn that somehow we’ve managed. We saw Andy Murray go out in pain and Roger Federer’s incredible form. We also saw the beauty and pain of the Tour as it wound through the Dordogne with Maciej Bodnar out in a breakaway for 200km, only to get caught 200m from the line. Brutal, and now the Pyrenees!

Following up on a story we originally discussed in January 2015, Dippy has left the building! Yes Dippy the dinosaur has now gone on tour and been replaced at the Natural History Museum by ‘Bluey’ , the four tonne blue whale skeleton who has been awaiting his spot in the limelight since 1891. All comes to he who waits!

We read that London Cure Smoked Salmon has been given the coveted Protected Geographical Indication status by the EU, the same protection that Parma Ham, Whitstable Oysters or Champagne enjoy. The irony of our reading this whilst our elected representatives debate the great repeal, preferring to score ideological points off each other rather than join together in the national interest, was not lost. Good news if you’re a smoked salmon producer in Newham, Tower Hamlets or Hackney though!

Something that amused us very much this week was Andy Serkis reading out President Trump’s tweets in the voice of Gollum – have a look for it.

Meanwhile, in this corner of Wimbledon Park, rosé has been leaving the building in some volume, Wayne has bought more posh wine – I particularly like the look of the new release of Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 2007 – £45.50.

But the one I really wanted to tell you about was the latest release of Le Volte.

Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2015 – £23.99 (Six bottles for £120), this year is a blend of 67% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Sangiovese fermented in steel and then aged for 10 months in a mixture of second use barriques and cement tanks before release.

We tried it a few months back and found it as rich, velvety and lovely as ever, but what really excited us was winemaker Axel Heinz’s comments:

“2015 was one those years that every winemaker dreams of having at least once in his career. The balanced season with a warm and sunny summer, but with a cool, dry weather during the harvest produced wines that perfectly denote the seasonal trend. Rarely do we find a perfect balance between the various components of the wine, from the deep ruby colour, to the crisp and fresh fruity hints with an ideally meaty texture, supported by silky, smooth tannins, devoid of any harsh edge.”

So there you go, a change from strawberries and cream, and something to tuck away in the rack whilst you sun yourself at the beach. Think of it as a post rosé treat!

Wine School

Taste 60 wines, do some blind tasting, finish on bubbly. Full details attached. Term starts Wednesday October 4th, beats reruns of Big Brother!

Tasting This Weekend

Today is Bastille Day so we thought we’d tackle something French. From the Loire Valley we’ll tantalise the taste buds with Domaine du Salvard Cheverny 2016 (£13.99), a scrummy blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc with the balance of Chardonnay just fleshing it out a little. Wearing the red jersey will be Jean Gamay Noir 2015 (£13.99), from acclaimed producer Jean Loron in southern Burgundy. Soft, light and fresh, yet rich and fruity with a little more weight than our Beaujolais.

What is covfefe, Precious?

Wine School, Burgundy, Rioja, Tennis, Tour de France and Ice!

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We Sell Ice.

And that’s about all you need to know from us for this week…

What a wonderful week! Tennis in full flow, Tour de France in full flow, Cricket from Lords’ murmuring on in the background, sunshine flooding through the window, five fridges spewing out heat as they go into overdrive but my god it’s all worth it when we open their doors and feel the whoosh of chilled air in our faces….

But this idyllic scene has not been without controversy.

Kyrgios,Troicki, Dolgopolov, Klizan, Lopez, Tipsarevic and Potapova are amongst the ‘retirees’ in the first round of the tennis – all £35,000 better off than they were on Monday morning.  Off the court Mr McEnroe has left Serena alone for a bit and stuck the knife into Novak, whilst Bernard Tomic has told us how bored he is – good to see that the force is still strong with the tennis super-brat!

Sagan knocks Cavendish off his bike.  Or Cavendish hooks Sagan on his brake.  Or they don’t touch each other at all.  Or they collide.  Whichever story you support the upshot is one broken shoulder, one expulsion, a knocked back appeal and now CAS have rejected any further action – so he stays out of the Tour and the trolls write disgraceful things on twitter about Cavendish and his family – almost makes one yearn for the days of drug cheats and illicit train journeys.

The cricket, as I said, murmurs on.  The South Africans removed early wickets and then decided to have a bit too much pasta at lunch time resulting in a lot of runs coming England’s way in the afternoon but remember, it’s only day one and it’s always ours to lose.

Away from sport, the sun has properly started scrambling our journalists brains and resulted in a spate of what can only be fake news:  Sir John Chilcot states that Tony Blair wasn’t ‘straight with the nation’ in the lead up to the Iraq War; Donald Trump has sent some ill-judged tweets; and Glastonbury blames part of the zero hours controversy on the weather being too good?

But whilst all this is going on in the big world, our little wine shop world continues to revolve happily.  We have spotted the occasional star in a Wimbledon stamped car, we have sold a few bottles of posh wine to the pre-tennis luncheon crowd and we’ve taken delivery of more new wines.

We’ve taken on board two new white burgundys – Domaine Seguinot Bordet Chablis 2015 (£18.99) and Jean Loron Vieilles Vignes Viré-Clessé 2014 (£17.99) both wines we tasted earlier in the year and now realised we needed to buy soon before Burgundy becomes as expensive as Bulgari.

We’ve bought a delicious rioja – Torre Demontalbo Crianza 2014 (£11.99) from Berry Bros & Rudd; we picked up a joyful Pinot Noir from Lombardia – Castello di Luzzano Umore Nero 2015 (£15.99) and also picked up a stunning Nebbiolo with a bit of age on it – Vallana Gattinara 2007 (£28.99).  They’re all here, we’re here, all we need now is you!

Wine School

It may feel like ages but September will be here before you know it and with it the start of the new term of Wine School.  For those of you who don’t know about this we’ve attached some details but, in a nut shell, over the course of six weeks you will learn about and taste around 6o wines.  You’ll fall in love with Chardonnay once more, discover life beyond Malbec and be able to spot a corked wine from 5 paces.  You’ll do a lot more than this obviously and all for only £150.

Sign up today, before you go away.

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

£150 per person.

Wednesday 25th October off for half term.

Currently we have plenty of spaces left, so tell your friends too!

Tasting this weekend

Having mentioned Jean Loron Vieilles Vignes Viré-Clessé 2014 and Torre Demontalbo Crianza 2014 let’s get some of that in your glasses and you can let us know what you think!

Some of you may have noticed the absence of any rugby talk.  For now, let’s keep it that way.  Next week though, depending on the result, you might hear more!

And just in case you didn’t get it the first time:

We Sell Ice – How cool is that?