Archive for February, 2018

Chicken, Fashion Week and Wine

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Those of us who have lived in the area for a while are, I’m sure, fully aware of South West London’s fondness for fried chicken.  There are a plethora of different shops where you can get your fix, Morleys, Roosters and Chicken Cottage to name but a few. There has even been a four episode Channel Four documentary on the subject.

You can imagine then the shock that has radiated around the country as The Colonel himself has had to close most of his shops due to a lack of chicken. We saw some stories of a Bargain Bucket changing hands for £100 in Sussex. Whilst we love the entrepreneurial side of the chap selling, and also the purity of the economics, we do question if it is still a bargain!

It seems the problem comes down to The Colonel switching his logistics supplier from a specialist company to one that was just cheap. Don’t Have Lorries, having won the contract, just didn’t know what to do next. Good news though folks, looks like the fowl up is nearly solved now, so if Kenny’s Fried Chicken needs a wine with it this evening we’d suggest a Viognier!

Rumours that Chicken Cottage is to become Chicken Villa are, so far, unconfirmed.

Elsewhere in the news it’s been a busy week for the Queen. Spotted first at London Fashion week sat in the front row (too short to model apparently) with Anna Wintour.  Then midweek she popped up again at the Brit Awards. We always suspected she was a big fan of Rag ‘n’Bone Man but how wrong can you be, she was spotted in the mosh pit of International Band of the Year, Foo Fighters! We suspect there’s a chance of fake news on this, but really love the idea of Her Maj getting her rock on to ‘The Pretender’.

Performance enhancing drugs in sport is something we’ve talked about in the past… curling…really? Words fail us.

The latest ‘wine is good for you’ news, suggests that drinking red wine may be good for your oral health. It’s those polyphenols again we understand, though not much was said about the acids and sugar, so we’d suggest staying with the paste and brush until more work is published!

This weekend sees the return of the Six Nations rugby. Friday evening sees France host Italy, whilst Saturday’s early game sees Ireland host Wales in what could be the game of the weekend and England travel to Murrayfield to face an unchanged Scottish team for the Calcutta Cup.

Also the weekend sees the start of the Spring Classics in cycling, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Saturday.

Wine & Cheese Tastings

All the dates are about half filled now, so do check your diaries if you want to join the fun. All start at 8pm and cost £20 per person. Dates below:


Thursday 19th April

Thursday 17th May

Thursday 21st June

Thursday 19th July


Tasting This Weekend

We’ve mentioned a few times that we’ve been out to a tasting, it’s that time of year in the wine trade. We also know that you all imagine us swanning around in our blazers at some livery hall swirling large glasses of red liquid then turning up at the shop late with black teeth, glazed eyes and a half empty pack of tic-tac’s. Whilst some of this may be true, it is also true that some of the booty from our foraging shows up occasionally too.

With that in mind, the white corner this weekend will feature Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2017 (£20.99). Domaine Naturaliste are a small Margaret River winery where the wine is made in a low-intervention manner by Bruce Dukes. We thought this was cracking with a real layered complexity and fabulous balance of fruit and texture. Deliciously elegant, a great partner to a plate of sushi but, frankly, very tasty on its own too.

In the red corner, we’ll make no apologies for taking a second trip in a fortnight to Tuscany. We’ll be opening Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2014 (£23.99), a stunning wine, elegant with smoky black cherry fruit character and aa great finish. Organic and enormously keen on their sustainability, Salcheto were the first company in the world to have certified the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine (according to ISO 14064 standard, in 2011).

A song for this weekend must be Louis Jordan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens’


Dogs, Skeletons, its downhill from here

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Has it really been a week since we last spoke?  God grief, the time has just flown past in a flurry of bad weather and divisive rugby results.  We received a certain amount of criticism last weekend for failing to mention the Winter Olympics starting – much as I’d like to say I was saving it for a special feature this week once some events had actually got underway, I would be talking through my hat and that would never do.

So Winter Olympics, why should I watch you?

You start  half way through the night and then finish up around midday, which makes life difficult for us here as, generally speaking, our most successful sport watching is done under the cover of work, and when work doesn’t start until 11am, well, it’s tricky.  And I’m not sure I’ll ever be to thank you enough for sucking me in last Sunday morning to watch the mixed curling, Canada v Switzerland that finished after 1am – the merciless ridicule that I received from wife and children when I told them of my antics will leave scars; for the record Canada won this round robin match and then proceeded to meet Switzerland again in the final and beat them once more but of course, I knew that would be the case, having been following them from early on… which meant I hadn’t anticipated the fact that the Canada’s ladies would be bottom of the table today after three sessions!

The joy the Winter has over the Summer version is to introduce us to sports that we have never tried ourselves.  If you went to school in the UK you will have done a variety of athletics, there is a definite chance you will have been in a kayak, on a bike, kicked a football, swam a length or played bows and arrows – none of the Summer Olympic sports are alien to us, we can sort of imagine doing them.  Fewer of us can imagine the skillset needed for biathlon and ski-jumping or the mind-set needed for the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton – and here-in lies its viewing appeal.  I was gutted when Elise Christie flew into the barriers and failed to get the medal she so deserves but when my son asked what had happened I couldn’t really tell him what had gone wrong, he just had to watch it for himself.

And then we have the commentators.  With the summer version we seem to land up with industry stalwarts who are used to being at the business end of a microphone and who are dab hand at painting a verbal picture whilst giving incisive commentary.  Watching the Men’s Slopestyle Final (highlights this time, it didn’t finish until 2.30am on Monday) such stalwarts were definitely missing – plenty of ‘wow, that was amazing’, ‘I don’t know how he did that’, coupled with ‘he really won’t be happy about that jump’ made me feel more like I was eavesdropping on some keen amateurs armchair punditry in the pub rather than profound professional commentary – but you know what, their enthusiasm was infectious.  When one of the commentators  put his neck on the line and said, after a fall on the first run, that Red Gerard was going to struggle to medal because he was too light to cope with the cross winds you just knew he hadn’t read the Book of Gaffes to Avoid when on Air – Gerard won Gold!

And of course we’re all about the Skeleton today – could you have told me anything about Dom Parsons yesterday?

So, there you have it, thoroughly engrossing when it’s on, sometimes too engrossing when it’s on late at night and we’ve still got just over a week left – get involved!

Spring Festival

As discussed last week, our four legged friends are front and centre today as we celebrate Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog.  Unlike some of the local pubs, we are yet to stock Snuffle Dog Beer (chicken flavour) or other such dog friendly dog drinks so we’ll have to limit our dog based recommendations to the following wines this weekend:

Mimi Méthode Traditionnelle NV – £12.99

Predominantly Pinot Noir with the merest splosh of Pinot Meunier and a delicate dab of Chardonnay, this fizz has been regaining in popularity as the lights seem to be coming up at the Prosecco party and people are looking to get their kicks elsewhere – the label has a young lady with her pet pooch in her arms, hence the dog theme.

Dog Point Chardonnay 2014 – £25.99

The 2014 Chardonnay reveals a pretty perfume of honey-drizzled white peaches, orange blossoms, marzipan and ginger with savory wafts of struck match (sulfides) and baking bread.  Light to medium-bodied, taut and with a wicked backbone of racy acid, it gives a great intensity of citrus and savory flavors and great length.  Drinking window 2016-2022.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, 30th December 2016

I think the canine link is self-evident here – and as our red we have:

Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2015 – £20.49

From the same stable as the mighty Sassacaia, this wine is made from the estates younger vines.  The wine is matured for 12 months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels. This vintage is a particularly fine one for Tuscany.

A round and delicious wine with bright fruit and fine tannins.  Medium body, lovely flavors and a fresh finish.  Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.  91-92 Points

James Suckling, October 20, 2017

Again, it’s the label that has a dog on it, in fact two hunting dogs chasing down a spot of cinghiale for the Sunday roast!

We’ll have the white and the red open for tasting this weekend so do come and join us for a sip or two, they are both truly wonderful examples!

Right, I’m off to catch a nap before midnight – 12 bouts of curling to get through before this time tomorrow, who’s with me?

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. Groucho Marx

Yes, Thursday 15th February is too late…

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Time to raid your piggy banks; it’s an expensive week coming up.

Snowfall in in Europe has been less than the record breaking January dumps but there is no sign of a thaw it seems , plus a good base in most resorts means that there will be plenty of skiing going on as the majority of lifts and runs are open and avalanche risks are low.  With the prospect of sunshine rather than snow there will be ample opportunity to sunbake whilst having a cheeky drink up the hill – 250 euros for a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge NV in Val d’Isère will have you shifting around for loose change down the banquette…

Half term of course is more expensive – at least when the children are captive behind the heavily locked gates of school they seem less capable of burning through your wallet.  Come half term though and suddenly they need lunch, entertaining and pocket money –the brutes.  Check the pockets of that overcoat you haven’t worn for a few months, there might be a tenner in there….

Valentine’s Day.  A day that should be about the expression of free love and true romance, which aren’t currently tradeable commodities, is apparently going to have us all spending in the region of £650 million, according to Mintel.  If we can get just 0.1% of that business we’ll have filled our coffers sufficiently to cover skiing drinks and long exeat!

On Saturday we have ample opportunity to wager heavily and empty our wallets over and over again in the rugby as Ireland battle Italy at 2.15pm and England introduce Wales to the delights of playing outdoors at 4.45pm; we will already have staked our Valentine’s money on the Tottenham v Arsenal goalless draw and our only hope of any return should be in the Scotland v France match on Sunday but unfortunately the odds are rubbish!  My bet this weekend – a draw in Dublin at 125/1 seemed the only offering actually worth filling a slip out for… just imagine, this time next year, we’ll be millionaires!

Then we have a feast day on Tuesday as we gorge ourselves silly on blinis and caviar and smoked salmon and other such hedonistic delights in preparation for our metaphorical 40 days in the wilderness starting on Ash Wednesday…

However, if your choice of worship is not so much Christian and more traditional Buddhist or Taoist then you will be waiting until Friday for you festivities as we usher in the Year of Dog with all the gusto and Champagne a New Year that arrives on a Friday should receive!

So, pick your pastime and spend accordingly unless you’re like Wayne, then you’ll be celebrating all of the above so it’s definitely time to raid your piggy banks – it’s an expensive week coming up!

That’ll be £650,000,000, please

Whilst you won’t find me in the corner of a crowded bistro whispering sweet nothings into my loved ones ear on Wednesday 14th February, I will of course be having a bottle of bubbles, or a bottle of wine, or a bottle of both at home with my wonderful wife – but what will it be I hear you clamour?

Well, very high up on the wish list is a small bottle of Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin (14.99) and a bottle of Herbert Hall Brut (32.99) to make a very British, lightly pink hued version of a Kir Royale as it were – I might keep a bit of gomme syrup nearby just in case the tartness of the gin and the dryness of the Kentish fizz are a stop too far and it needs a drop of sugar syrup to soften out the edges – I’ll happily experiment.

On the wine front then, I will skirt around the Rosé option, largely because my wife will thump me if I bring it home (not a fan) and partly because I will have just drunk a bottle of fizz and half a bottle of gin… but don’t let me stop you from enjoying a nice bottle of Château de L’Aumerade Cuvée Marie-Christine (13.99) to bring back some summer sunshine!

A refreshing glass of one of either The Accomplice Chardonnay or The Accomplice Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (both 8.99) seems an appropriate toast to my partner in crime before moving onto a delicious bottle of Château de Belleverne St Amour 2016 (12.99) from the heart of Beaujolais, Le Cru des Amoreux as it likes to call itself!

At this point I will need to put a stop to the tippling because I will have to go to work but again, don’t let me stop you….

Tasting this weekend

With all that’s mentioned above I think we’ll open The Accomplice Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and the St Amour – the rhubarb gin is open anyway and you’ll just have to trust us on the Herbert Hall front, it’s fab.

Should none of our Valentine suggestions tease you then do remember that Champagne is always available.

Equally, should any of our sport betting tips fail to appeal, you can always still bet on Scotland, Italy or France winning the grand slam at 1,000-1 apparently!?


February and the 6 Nations

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Say hello, wave goodbye.

A warm welcome to February, the year’s shortest month, filled with Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, half term and the Six Nations.

Whilst we greatly appreciate that the shortest month comes directly after the very, very longest month there is an argument that perhaps, post Brexit (!), we should consider reallocating days/month to make January about 14 days long and then add the surfeit of days into July and August.  This would work for everyone – all the cold days in January could be exchanged 1:1 for sunny days in the height of summer; the summer holidays would now be longer; the New Year resolutions would now only have to last for a fortnight and obviously February would be closer to Christmas.

Such a reallocation of days could also serve as a fillip to the economy, with the slow month of January exchanged for months of greater productivity later in the year; there would be more seasonal work available for longer, so we would approach universal employment, once again a financial bonus for the country.  With the extended summer we would now compete head-on with Mediterranean destinations for sunshine breaks and, following the Thomas Cook lead, could charge £20 for a sunbed booking – great for business and £3.33 for the Treasury coffers, every time.  If we can encourage 3 billion visitors to sit on a beach chair for just 3 days each then, by 2021, we could shore up the 30 billion NHS deficit using sunbeds alone; a billion visitors a year – how many kiss-me-quick hats and fish suppers would that involve, it’s a gift that keeps on giving and we haven’t even considered the 0.83 pence the HMRC gets from each plastic bag we have to purchase at the supermarket!

So we’re voting for 14 days in January – who’s with me?  Potential naysayers, likely to be anyone born between 15th and 31st, will get their birthday re-located to the summer, further away from Christmas and in the nice weather, something they’ve always yearned for!

I have the feeling that some of us, certainly where resolutions are involved, are already working on a fortnight long first month.  Supposedly, 3.1 million of us gave up booze on January 1st, which is 6 times more of us than have Hive Connected Heating (according to the British Gas adverts) which perhaps is a sign that we are substantially more likely to give up drinking than get suckered into remote controlled central heating, but I digress…

3.1 million took the pledge last month, a statistic gleaned from YouGov (a fount of many fun statistics) which is more than 5% of the UK adult population.  There are no statistics available for how many were still dry on Wednesday, and I suspect there never will be, but we can report, unofficially, a noticeable uplift in sales from 20th January onwards, and a definite acceleration the first few days of this week!  Congratulations to all of you that did the full month and a warm welcome back, what can we offer you?

Wine & Cheese Tastings

Well aware of your penchant for combining fermented grapes with curdled milk we published dates for our upcoming tastings over the next few months – response has been great, so here’s an update:

Thursday 8th February (next week!) at 8pm – only 4 spaces left

Thursday 15th March at 8pm – sorry, sold out!

Thursday 19th April at 8pm – good availability

Thursday 17th May at 8pm – good availability

Thursday 21st June at 8pm – good availability

Thursday 19th July at 8pm – good availability

So, check your diaries, we have someone booked for every evening now so we expect them all to sell out… As usual, to book, pop in or else call us on 020 8944 5224.

£20 per person.

Tasting this Weekend

We were out tasting this week and it seems that the Spanish islands are going to be the next big thing this year, the heat over wines from Etna cooling a little – and having listed the wines from the Mallorcan winery, Las Bodegas Maciá Batle, for many years now, we were quite excited to try some other wines.

Let’s just say, we are very pleased with our current listings and found the alternative wines we tasted truly delicious but very ambitiously priced – think Burgundy but wearing a sombrero…

So, we thought we’d open Maciá Batle Blanc de Blancs 2016 – £18.49 and show you why we like it – a blend of Prensal Blanc and Chardonnay; the Prensal Blanc is a local variety with a lightly herbal fruited character set off by the appley bite of the Chardonnay – delicious.

We also rediscovered the fact that Bordeaux from 2010 is also delicious.  We’ll open the Château des Demoiselles Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux – £15.99, just to remind you too!

Late News

Alex is always late, no doubt about it.  He hasn’t yet offered to resign though, but if he did I think I would let him stay, being half the business and all that.

Anyway, to reference YouGov for one last time, their question was thus:

The International Development Minister Lord Bates resigned and walked out of the House of Lords after being late to answer a ministerial question. (His resignation was not accepted). How often are you late?

Astonishingly, 47% of us said rarely and 19% never – that’s 2/3 of the population that reckons they’re timekeeping is almost perfect.  Only 7% confessed to being usually or often late, the same percentage as those who ‘didn’t know’!

Think of your friends, read those stats and never believe another poll!

Wales v Scotland; France v Ireland; Italy v England – I genuinely have no clue how the rugby will shape up this weekend but I feel it could be amazing!

Wave goodbye, Alex…