Archive for October, 2017

Small wine harvest and other horrors

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Words I thought I’d never write are just dripping off my fingertips: “England beat Brazil 3-1 to make it to the World Cup Final”. The fact that I am talking about the under-17 age group gives us much hope for the future, I’m sure it’ll be ultimately misplaced, but for the moment we’re very happy with “England beat Brazil 3-1 to make it to the World Cup Final”!

A few years ago Alex wrote in these very pages about the creeping insidiousness of a mysterious American conglomerate TorT Inc. (trading here as Trick or Treat UK Ltd). Using sugar based snacks they had become one of the most successful CAPERS (Cash Allowance from Parents’ Removal specialists). In order to keep you all well abreast of events, we felt it was time to check on their activities again. What we have discovered is, quite frankly, a bit alarming.

Pumpkins this year are fewer in number but larger in size, and most will again be used to hide part of the doorstep whilst handily up-lighting that cobweb on the front door. Not so many will be made into soup, curry or pie yet weirdly quite a few may end up in your latte!

Using the very latest in cyber technology (frightgeist.withgoogle), we thought we’d check out the Halloween Costume Charts. We were somewhat surprised to find this year’s most searched costume was Wonder Woman (someone really should take Harvey’s computer away), we were disappointed that more traditional Halloween themes of Zombie (No.9), Vampire (No.19) and Skeleton (No.22) seem to be falling out of fashion. We did wonder why 1980’s at No. 32 was more popular than the Devil at No. 35 but thought best not to delve too deeply, whilst at the same time, feeling slightly sorry for the 1990’s which could only manage 48th position.

There is some good news however, previously reported merger talks between TorT Inc. and The Fawkes Foundation have foundered. Magic Fountains will not be replaced by Sherbet Fountains for this year at least, more news next week…

A week or two ago we mentioned that France had a small harvest this year, and indeed it appears that this year’s worldwide wine harvest is the lowest in 50 years. Several newspapers reported the news in their own inimitable styles.

The Sun: “We’re heading for a wine shortage and boozy Brits are already freaking out!”

The Evening Standard: “UK could face prosecco shortage as European wine production hits 50 year low.”

The Weather Channel: “Bad weather to cause wine production slump”.

We’d just mention that so far we see no reason to freak out as an 8% fall in production is unlikely to cause a Prosecco shortage and we can always drink Cava instead! If all else fails we’ll get Alex to release some from his cellar. I think it’s the one he calls Cellar V.

Tasting this weekend

White wise, we thought we’d go with Boeckel Pinot Blanc Reserve 2015 (£13.79). It’s one of those whites that flies under the radar a little but is just delicious with some fish pie, a creamy mushroom risotto or a simple vegetable frittata.

In the red corner we’ll be having a guzzle on Le Malbec 2014 (£11.99). Hailing from the southwest of France this is perhaps a little lighter than its Argentinean counterparts and lovely with some wild boar sausages, we reckon.


Good news folks, that hour that went off on its travels in the spring is finally returning this weekend, dirty washing in tow no doubt.

Yes indeed it’s time for the clocks to go back this weekend so you can *stay up to watch the end of the late movie/ *throw a few more shapes on the dancefloor/ *enjoy the extra sleep. *Delete as appropriate

Don’t forget to charge or get new batteries for the torch and bike lights.


Living The High Life

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Fellow wine Lovers,

How was last night?  Did you have a Gin and Tonic?  Shame, you should have done – following on from last week’s collection of national and international ‘days’, yesterday was International Gin & Tonic Day.  As proof, here is a link: – I think the two things that surprised us most were the fact that this is not the first year that this has been a ‘day’ and we’ve missed a trick and , perhaps more significantly, that none of our Gin suppliers (two of whom are solely Gin producers) made any mention of it to us.

As touched upon last week, ‘day’ saturation point has clearly now been surpassed, there are too many ‘days’ in the year for us to keep up with, whilst paradoxically there are not enough days in the year for all the ‘days’…

Moving swiftly on.

‘About two grand’

This is how much the Posh and the Becks allegedly spent on wine on a recent date night.

Not a lot really – with a combined worth of about £500 million, that is really the equivalent of me taking my beloved out for a couple of halves of Amstel and a sausage roll.  They consumed, according to the sources, a bottle of Chateau Margaux 1995 (nice choice, Victoria), a bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc 2012 (a trifle young, David) and a bottle of Chateau Lafleur 2006 (now that’s more like it, a bit of age and development).

Now, various commentators have tied themselves up in knots about the size of the bill et cetera but what we have to admire is a midweek date night that involves three bottles of wine, red wine no less, and not a glass of Prosecco in sight.

Beckhams – consider yourselves high fived!

‘About a hundred and fifty quid’

Yesterday was a tough day, one of those days that you’re all very lucky to be able to avoid.  But don’t show us too much pity because in fact we brought it all upon ourselves when we invited João from Sogevinus to pop in and see us.  João has the unenviable task of trying to sell Wayne port and he does this by pouring samples into glasses and then waving them under our noses before we taste and spit them out.  Or at least I spit them out, I couldn’t possibly comment on Wayne’s activities…

The ports all came from Kopke, a smaller house but as we well know, smaller does not diminish quality of course; they were established in 1638, is the eldest Porto wine export firm and is considered one of the leaders  in the “Porto Colheita” category.

So, what did we taste?

Kopke 10 year old White (half) – £23

Caramel, peach, soft and not as sweet as I expected at front, caramel again sweetens into the length and persistent peach stone fruit.

Kopke 10 year old Tawny – £22

More red fruit character, touch of cinnamon and nut, soft sweeter attack, milky coffee and red fruits, touch of warmth in finish, very classic winter warmer.

Kopke 30 year old White (half) – £52

Real dried apricot attack, lovely balance, coffee, nut brittle, layered and really long finish

Kopke 1987 Colheita – £75

Textured, soft and sweet but not aggressively so, cream fudge without the sugar, reddish fruit, touch of spice but overall impression is of elegance.

Kopke 20 year old Tawny – £42

Red cherry and chocolate on nose, interesting celery note too, spice more mocha notes on palate lovely intensity without sticky out warmth. Nice and long. Touch of cloves on palate too

Kopke 1967 – £150

Furniture polish, redcurrant, clotted cream, star anise, sweet but drier than I expected attack, red fruits, creamy toffee, butterscotch but a certain amount of power to it. Decent length.

We haven’t bought any of these yet (but have offered them to the Beckhams) but our favourites were definitely the Colheita’s – Wayne enjoying the elegance of the 1987 whilst Alex appreciated the power of the 1967 – and frankly a bottle that is 50 years old for £150 is very hard to beat in our view!

The rest of the day passed in a blur of VAT returns and hunger pangs – who knew that tasting port in the morning gives you the munchies – and now we reach the weekend and for many of our younger readers (!), half term.

It’s only a week off (or two weeks if you pay the right people) and if your lives are anything similar to mine, a glass of wine or two is the only way to get through.  With this in mind, this evening we will be opening a couple of bottles for tasting:

The white corner will be inhabited by Hubert Lamy Bourgogne ‘Les Chataigners’ 2012 (£26.99). The estate is based in St. Aubin (probably the best of them if we’re honest) and this Cuvée comes vineyards above the village on limestone soils. A real bobby dazzler of a wine, and if there is such a thing as value in Burgundy, this is surely it.

Red wise we’ll be tucking into Chateau Tanesse 2010 (£13.99) a cracking drop of claret from Cadillac, Côtes de Bordeaux. From a great vintage, this is a winning blend of 49% Merlot 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and a splash each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Time for a roast on Sunday?

We promise to stop doing this soon, but will just sign off with the news that today is the 8th Edition of #globalchampagneday.

Perhaps we can help?

That Was The Week That Was

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We had a cast around this week, wondering where to start with this  commentary. Friday 13th seemed a rather obvious place to start, a successful horror movie franchise from the 80’s rumoured to be getting a reboot, but right now Hollywood seems a subject best avoided.

We had a brief look at the news and discovered that Trump wants “the Nuclear Arsenal to be in tip top condition”. Only to be immediately trolled by Arsene Wenger stating “Arsenal may sell Ozil and Sanchez in January”.

Then a thought struck me, hadn’t someone on the radio said it was National Curry Week? I’ll have a look into that, surely everyone likes a curry and it can’t be too controversial to talk about. Oh, how wrong can you be… it turns out that one of the nation’s favourite curry styles, Korma, is not the mild creamy dish that we all thought. Korma actually means ‘braising’ or ‘slow-cooking’ and can come mild or spicy! It’s not just National Curry Week though folks, it’s also Chocolate Week. Who organises this, surely it makes more sense and fun to make those two separate weeks?

Wool Week has been running for eight years, so if your curry isn’t hot enough you can put on a sweater. Why not take a walk down to the library because it’s also National Libraries Week, and National Braille Week. I have to say, I think Braille and Libraries make a better partnership than Curry and Chocolate. We then spotted the Arthritis Week and Dyspraxia Awareness Week and decided we were full up, we had 7 weeks in a week, and even the Beatles only managed Eight Days.

Positively marvelling at our impressive, if slightly uncharacteristic, time management skills in fitting so much in our week, we decided to look at today Friday 13th. Apart from being an impressive Horror Movie franchise of 12 films and a computer game, it is also a day that has sparked enough fears of bad luck that it has a personal phobia: Friggatriskaidekaphobia!

Friday 13th October 2017 is also World Egg Day, so you know what to have in your lunchtime sarnie. Randomly it is also National No-Bra Day as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and if you don’t believe us, you probably already know its International Sceptics Day.

Given how crowded just one week in the diary appears to be, we do wonder how effective they are. Did you hear more about Curry or Arthritis this week?

We are dead chuffed to discover the impeccable timing of the 6th National Wine Week, which runs 28th November till 4th December. Although disappointed we didn’t find out earlier, both Park Vintners and Wayne’s birthday fall in that week, so I suspect a bottle or two will be opened!

In other wine news it looks like France had the smallest harvest in 60 years. Those late April frosts really did the damage in Bordeaux, whilst the really hot spells in August wreaked havoc in the Languedoc. Throw in a storm or two in Champagne and you have a 19% drop overall on 2016! Italy will be top dog this year it seems.

Tasting This Weekend

Given the Korma controversy we couldn’t help but choose a white to go with our previous understanding of the creamy curry and taste Reserve de Gassac 2016 (£11.99). It’s blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Marsanne should be just the ticket.

Running the show in the red corner will be Uitkyk Pinotage 2014 (£14.49).  Back after an enforced absence due to it literally missing the boat from South Africa, it’s an elegant style that will be comfortable with a Rogan Josh, and no slouch with that barbecued leg of lamb that might just happen on Sunday!


Wayne gets the blues…

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It seems to me that there are many things wrong with the world. State police spending their Sunday beating unarmed citizens over a difference of view, another random man with too many guns shooting random innocents at a concert and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar all, rather sadly, spring too easily to mind.

The dishonesty of shrinkflation on bags of Maltesers, Minstrels and now even Jaffa Cakes all by producers who prefer to think we’re too stupid to notice. Walnut Whips without their walnut, how ridiculous.

A wrong that caught my eye this week is wine related.  French born, London based entrepreneur Aymerc Bruneau unveiled the first blue fizz made from French grapes at the Frieze Art Fair.  When I started to read this I thought “ah, maybe it’s some sort of performance art or publicity stunt”.  I read that the colour was inspired by Yves Klein’s trademarked ‘International Klein Blue’.  But then I saw “We created Eden with elegance in mind, artistic spirit in soul and art-de-vivre in essence.”  It is really quite sweet, (38g/l residual sugar) so that you can drink it over ice and it is claimed to taste better than champagne.

It’s blue! How on earth can something with blue dye in it be better? I’m not sure the wine world is any better off with this launch, but it is the first time Frieze Art Fair has been plugged in our missive, so maybe it is performance art… Anyhow a bottle will set you back £45 or a Jeroboam (4 bottles equivalent) £315. Even the maths is dodgy for an overpriced WKD!

Suffice to say we haven’t managed to find any fridge or shelf space for it.

However, we did find some shelf space for a plethora of beauties this week.

First up, and one Wayne is particularly excited about is Kalin Cellars Cuvée CH Chardonnay 1995, Sonoma County, USA (£40). Those of you with good memories may remember we had a bit of the Cuvee W last year and were just a little upset when it ran out.

Kalin Cellars make small parcels of wine from a selection of other people’s vineyards and then release it as and when they think the wine is ready. Robert Parker wrote: “Terry Leighton is one of California’s two most talented winemakers … (Kalin wines) are the wines of a genius. These wines are worth every effort to find in the marketplace” For our five pennyworth, we’d just say they are how Meursault used to be before all the oxy problems started to rear their ugly heads in the late ‘90’s.  This is from Charles Heinz Vineyards in Sonoma County and is absolutely stunning, rounded and dry, nutty, oatmealy and honeyed, really long in the finish, and still fresh as a daisy. A bargain!

The nagging worked, and we can tell you that the Thiénot Brut NV (£32.99) is back by popular demand. Still as delicious, still not as famous as it should be, and still the Champagne that kicked Möet out of the 2013 Oscars party!

We’ve also listed our first XO Cognac (although it didn’t turn upon the delivery today – Monday they promise me!). Alex, with his love of hip hop and Grime music, was very keen to go down the Hennessey route, but when Wayne pointed out that there is much less Grime in Wimbledon Park than when we worked in Clapham, his voice was heard above the din.

Delamain Pale & Dry XO (£95) Established in 1759 Delamain is one of the last family-owned Cognac houses. They specialise in aged cognacs and this XO is a blend of 25 years old Grande Champagne cognacs, each one was aged separately before blending and ageing for another two years. Complex and powerful with floral and vanilla aromas. Mellow and subtle on the palate with concentrated fruits and hints of liquorice and vanilla.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll kick off the red corner with a wine we think ideal with windy evenings and falling leaves, Antonio Camillo Morellino Di Scansano 2016 (£14.99), is a cracking red from near the coast in Tuscany.

In the white corner we’re heading to Austria. Turk Grüner Veltliner Kremser Weinberge 2015 (£17.99). Weingut Türk dates back to the beginning of the 18th century and consists of fifteen hectares of vines in Kremstal at the heart of Austrian winemaking. Franz says that his aim is to capture the positive energy of the sun in fluid form. We’re not sure if he’s managed that, but this is typical, peppery Grüner Veltliner. A spicy nose, crisp and refreshing, a Grüner Veltliner that offers drinking pleasure and finesse.

Thanks to Tom Petty for sound-tracking us whilst we learnt to fly.

Wayne & Alex