Archive for August, 2017

Precious Things

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well I’m back, did you miss me? I’ve been on a road trip with my family and have learnt (and in some cases re-learnt) several things over the last fortnight. My kids concept of time is completely dependent on their environment. It would appear that time spent in a swimming pool zips by quicker than a trip in the Tardis, whilst time spent in the car seems to move more slowly with every minute being an hour like endurance. On the other hand the Alhambra really is beautiful, houses really do hang from the cliffs in Cuenca and oysters are as magnificent with Muscadet as they ever were.

Enough about me, how are you? Has Wayne been looking after you? He certainly doesn’t seem to have done much round here, just handed me the keys this morning muttering something about going for a beer with his father-in-law.

I see the football season has started in my absence, Huddersfield certainly seem to be enjoying themselves!

Vuelta a Espana is on, I didn’t see any yet, but I’m sure Wayne will have kept you up to date. It ends up in Cuenca today so I’ll relive a small part of my holiday!

Tomorrow sees the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup with England facing New Zealand in Belfast. Come on the Red Roses!

I’ve had a quick scan of the news this morning and the most interesting item I saw was that Mike D of the Beastie Boys has taken a job as a sommelier, helping to choose the list for a new Hollywood restaurant Hearth and Hound. Fight for your Right (to Chablis)!

In Germany, a supermarket in Hamburg took all the foreign products off the shelves in a bid to make a point about diversity. We thought it a brave move for a company to make, but a fine point well made that life would be poorer without Italian lemons, Spanish olive oil, and French wine…

Wine Course

Still some places left. Term starts Wednesday 4th October here at 8pm. £150 buys your seat at the table where you’ll taste around 60 wines, discuss their differences, and a whole lot more besides.

Precious Things

We still have a bit of Chocolate Block 2015 (£23.99 each or 6 for £120). It’s the first vintage where all of the fruit is from Swartland. A blend of 71% Syrah, 15% Grenache Noir, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cinsault and 1% Viognier giving us the rich and polished wine we’ve come to expect from Boekenhoutskloof. Don’t be shy, it won’t be around for ever.

Bank Holiday Monday – As usual we will be closed for the Bank Holiday.

Tasting This Weekend

Well I’ve been very keen to retaste the Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Pinot Noir 2014 (£21.49) that we bought recently. It’s from Nelson and we were really impressed the first time we tasted it in May.

So while I’m at it why don’t we go for the full Nelson and try their Chardonnay too. In which case, the white corner will be from the Upper Moutere in the shape of Spencer Hill Latitude 41 Chardonnay 2014 (£20.99).

If you’re planning grouse one of these should be perfect.


Wine in School, Tastings, and the Big Brother House

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Isn’t that sunshine glinting off your phone annoying? Doesn’t the sun know you’re trying to read something?  If only it would pop behind that puffy white cloud for just a minute.

This week I have had my annual communication with your colleagues, and am now armed with a lengthy database of people who are in the escalation business.  Some of you have returned from your travels, I have heard tales of the nightlife in Avignon, the beauty of Ljubljana, and the romance of a shipwreck bar in Cyprus.

I have also had communication from abroad. Alex wrote, wondering if his hat might be more useful on his head than in the window. I have heard nothing since sending the photo demonstrating how fine a job it was doing in the window.

One of our international correspondents checked in with tales of gales and monsoon rainfall in Adelaide, I found myself wondering of the similarities between Adelaide and Wimbledon Park last week.

Otherwise, I have had a number of lengthy conversations with the alarmingly large number of people who seemed concerned that my gas and electricity supplier may be overcharging. Despite assurances otherwise, they like to call everyday just to check I’m happy.

In a surprising turn of events, President Trump has been in the news this week. The man that takes no holiday, has returned from his golfing holiday sacked his business advisory councils, and wiped $5bn off the value of Amazon with one tweet. If only you could do something constructive with a tweet!

So how did the opening weekend of the Premiership fair for you? The large number of goals scored gave me comfort that Arsenal might not be the only team with a lacy defence. Elsewhere in football, Astana proved they should stick with cycling losing 5-0 at Celtic in the Champions League playoffs.

This weekend the proper sport kicks off again with the start of the Vuelta a España. Saturdays start sees a team time trial in Nîmes (I know, I thought it was in France too!). Will Chris Froome win this race as well? If he does, he’ll be the first person in 39 years to do the Tour de France/Vuelta a España double. Alberto Contador is retiring after the race so look out for a stage win from him, and also both of the Yates brothers are racing with Orica Scott putting out a very strong Grand Classification team. Pull up a chair!

In wine news this week we learned that Sarah Harding has been hiding bottles around the Big Brother house, and that researchers at the University of Graz have discovered a glass of wine helps with writers block. This is obviously something that would come as no surprise to either Dylan Thomas or Ernest Hemingway!

Congratulations to all the students receiving their A-level results this week. I know many of them shouldn’t be reading this, but please Mum & Dad, do convey our congratulations. We may have been using quill and parchment when we received our exam results but it still seems like yesterday.

Wine School

Still some places left. If you’d like to taste around 60 wines, learn about wine and have some spare evenings on a Wednesday do come and see us. Cost is £150.00


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
04/10/17 11/10/17 18/10/17 01/11/17 08/11/17 15/11/17


Cheese and Wine Tastings

There are still a few places left on each of these dates. £20 per person saves your place!

Thursday 5th October at 8pm

Thursday 2nd November at 8pm

Thursday 30th November at 8pm


Tasting this Weekend

We thought we’d start the weekend off with a drop of Monte del Frá Soave Classico 2015 (£13.99). One of those wines you may have drunk on holiday as it is from that beautiful part of Italy near Verona and the lakes. This one is made from 100% Garganega (rules state minimum 70%) grown at 150m on volcanic soils. Aromatic, with blossom notes and a crisp dry slight nuttiness that is really versatile food wise.

Staying with the food versatility theme, the red jumper will be sported by Percheron Old Vine Cinsault 2016 (£8.39). Don’t let it’s small price tag lead you astray, this is cracking glass of wine from gnarly 60 odd year old bush vines in the Western Cape. It is medium-bodied with soft tannins, savoury fruit character and spice to finish. An elegant wine that’ll go with almost anything food wise.

Smile, Thyme Square and Vouvray

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we’ve seen psychopathic joggers, crazed world leaders trying to out crazy one another, and children arrested in Iran for dancing Zumba. Now, I don’t know about you but it seems to me everyone needs to calm down, take a deep breath and count to five, or maybe just join Alex by the pool for a glass of something fresh.

Perhaps this from Spike Milligan will help.

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.


I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.

When he smiled I realized I’d passed it on to him.


I thought about that smile, then I realized its worth.

A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.


So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.

Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!


In sport, the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicked off, with England giving Spain a thorough 56-5 drubbing, whilst Ireland beat Australia in a 19-17 thriller.


I see Big Mo is in his last track 5000m tomorrow night before plans to move up to Marathon running. I can’t help but wonder if Mrs Mo knows just how long his Sunday morning runs are going to be now!


Premiership Season kicks off tonight with Arsenal hosting Leicester. Elsewhere it seems Chelsea and Manchester United are still looking for players, and Danny Rose is unhappy with his pay at Spurs.


In other news, Groundhog Day the Musical is playing on Broadway at the moment. On Tuesday evening Bill Murray was in the audience, as he was on Wednesday. If you’re reading this from New York, the show is at 8pm this evening, and tomorrow.


As has become something of a tradition whilst Alex is on holiday I have bought something new. By way of departure from the norm, it is a beer rather than an exciting Italian red.


Adrian from Belleville Brewery dropped by with my new purchase yesterday morning. Thyme Square Saison (£2.60 33cl can) is one of their seasonal brews. It pours a hazy orange in the glass with herby and citrus aromas.  On the palate it is fruity with some herbal notes, the weight of a wheat beer and a lovely refreshing finish that isn’t bitter at all. A lovely summer brew that’ll refresh the farmer in all of us!


Talking of exciting Italian reds our latest allocation of Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2014 mysteriously arrived during Alex’s absence too. So if you think a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Cabernet Franc (15%) that just happens to be one of Italy’s most iconic bottlings might be up your street, just let us know and we’ll see what we can do.


Tasting this weekend


I’ll never get the Sassicaia past the budget committee, so thought instead we could put our tasting gear to action with another newbie, the Cours La Reine St Chinian 2015 (£10.99). From one of France’s oldest appellations, it has our old chums Grenache and Syrah in the blend and I can’t help but think it’s ideal for this time of year.


Vouvray Coteaux Les Tufiers Demi-Sec 2015 (£11.99) from the North Bank of the Loire valley is where we’ll be on the white front, for no better reason than I fancy it! A perfect partner to some sashimi, smoked fish, or maybe some tandoori fish kebabs on the barbecue.


Pop in for a taste and give us a smile!


Friday, August 4th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Week 2 of the Great Exodus of 2017 – nothing extraordinary to report from Arthur Road.

Alex reminds me from his hammock that, in the month of August, I can write pretty much what I please since most people’s inboxes have been left on their desk at work and the term ‘internet access’  becomes ‘no internet access’ once you get past Salisbury.

But what does one do with such a blank canvas, aside from stare blankly at it?

I could kick off with some trivia about how August used to be called Sextilis when it lived higher up the charts in sixth place rather than eighth.  I could then whimsy a little about how nice it would be if it was still at number 6 because that would mean there would be no January or February, which are terrible months filled with abstinence, cold weather and family birthdays!  I could continue the whimsy with the proposal that it would be great to celebrate Christmas and New Year with the knowledge that spring is only three weeks away and my closing argument would centre around the premise that, in a world that is becoming increasingly metric, a 10 month year would seem logical and if the US want to maintain their imperial measurements they can keep January and February and have ours too.

And that would be the first paragraph written.

After the whimsy I could then discuss what’s been going on in the world and I could start with The Guardian and a selection of stories that they’ve published in the last two weeks:

  • Heavy drinking will kill 63,000 people over next five years, doctors warn (24/07/17)
  • Booze is a joy – so stop criticising women for drinking (25/07/17)
  • Sport and sunshine fuel surge in UK supermarket alcohol sales (25/07/17)
  • Is it time to tackle Britain’s alcohol problem? (26/07/17)
  • Regular alcohol consumption could cut diabetes risk, study finds (28/07/17)

I’m still not sure which message The Guardian is trying to push here and I’m positive they don’t have a clue either but one has to admire their spread of clickbait.

Second paragraph done and still no mention of cycling but not for long…

For now I can mention my persistent sadness that I never seem to get a place in Ride London but hope that next year might be my time but in the meantime I’ll keep pinging myself round and around Richmond Park and down Sydenham and up Box and Leith and other places that Alex has never heard of… at which point I will realise that I forgot to stick my political joke in earlier about how if you had bought a pint of milk on the day Anthony Scaramucci was hired it would still be good to drink – one of many very good jokes going round about America’s best loved communications director.

And the order of the email won’t matter because it’s Sextilis.

I now envisage that I am on the home straight and need to start thinking about what I should have on tasting this weekend – in the blanc corner we have:

Domaine Morin-Langaran Cuvee Caroline Picpoul de Pinet 2016, France – £11.99

Picpoul: a grape variety that has been grown for years on the banks of Lake Thau, in sight of the famous oyster-beds of Bouzigues.  The vines bask in the sunshine, being gently aired by the salty breeze and thus this wine is unmistakably Mediterranean.  Domaine Morin-Langaran has been in the same family since 1966 and they produce a classic Picpoul, aged on its fine lees for complexity and the perfect match to shellfish (oysters perhaps?), grilled fish or just as an aperitif!

Château de Belleverne, Beaujolais Villages ‘La Basse-Cour’ 2015, France – £10.99

A lovely drop of Gamay this one.  A fresh, delicate and light wine with vibrant fresh strawberry aromas, a lovely freshness of red fruits and a lightness of touch on the palate.  People seem to be rediscovering Beaujolais at last, with good cause – we’d suggest popping a Brie in the oven and tucking in with some crusty bread!

And that’s the August email template done – a quick mention of the Wine School that starts on Wednesday 4th October and is a six week course over a seven week period and costs a remarkably sensible price of £150 and then a witty sign off and we’re done.  I’ll keep this format for the next few weeks and indeed for next year, just need to remember to tidy it up a bit before I send it….

Wayne & Alex