Archive for May, 2018

Juniper-infused fug and International Chardonnay Day

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This morning we are viewing the world through a rather wonderful, juniper-infused fug!

As we all know, Thursday has been the new Friday for a number of years now and never more so than the Thursday night before a bank holiday or a school holiday – oh look, last night was both of these. Add a Gin tasting with Danielle from Sacred, the award winning spirits house in Highgate, into the mix and you have the perfect cocktail for a cracking night out!

What did we taste? I feel this could almost be used as a brain training quiz for some of our guests but I will spare their blushes and give you the list of Sacred products we enjoyed:

• Classic Gin
• Gin with zesty notes of fresh Pink Grapefruit
• Gin with exotic notes of Cardamom
• English Spiced Vermouth
• Rosehip Cup
• Negroni
• English Whisky Liqueur

And I think there were perhaps some water biscuits too and even some tonic water but I could be mistaken… either way it was a cracking night and deeply informative, thank you Danielle.

Fully aware that only 14 of you were able to squeeze into the shop, we won’t continue with our list of things you missed but will just mention that, of the selection above, we normally only sell the Classic and Cardamom options but we took a bit of stock of the others for this event. So, if anyone fancies a bottle of something different, come and have a look!

What else has been going on this week? Thanks to GDPR, what was once a metaphorical broom cupboard crammed with almost 1,000 people, many of whom were looking at their phones, looking in the wrong direction or permanently out of the office, is now a rather more comfortable veranda filled only with people who want to listen to our chunterings. A bespoke group of wine intellectuals, if I may be so bold, thank you for staying put!

I spent much of yesterday afternoon getting distracted by research on the Kantar website, the initial hook being that we Brits apparently spent £193 million more on wine last year. Disappointed that this extra cash hadn’t been spent exclusively on Arthur Road, I then read on to discover that a new category to me, Non-traditional Sparkling Wine was the biggest growth area in 2017 with 21.6% growth, based largely on consumers desire for cheaper alternatives to Prosecco.

Cheaper alternatives to Prosecco, oh my days.

Apparently, Asda’s ‘Progrigio’ costs a fiver and tastes a million bucks…

And then I read on. ‘Heavy’ sparkling wine drinkers, where ‘heavy’ equates to five or more glasses per month, are more likely to enjoy going out; entertaining; paying more for the finer things in life; and making sure they look good – for example, they are 72% more likely than the average UK adult to ‘never leave home without makeup’. I immediately double-checked with Wayne but he carefully restricts himself to 4 glasses a month, allowing him to eschew the war paint.

So, on the one hand we’re looking for ever cheaper fizz, and by all accounts drinking more of it, whilst at the same time doling out more cash going out and living the high life – and I thought we were all broke and drinking less – the joy of when stats and market research collide!

The take home for me here is that consumption isn’t really shifting, the increase in spend in 2017 is largely down to own brand and supermarket, super-cheap wine – imagine if we could just convert 10% of those drinkers to better quality wine….

Alongside the wine story was a story about food and drink fads. Apparently, avocado’s are still seeing growth if slower than 2 years ago; quinoa too. Kale and coconut oil are starting to noticeably dip whilst pineapple sales are growing extraordinarily quickly. Fancy pop-up cafés specialising in Hawaiian pizza, Piña Colada and retro upside-down cakes will be all over the place before we know it – you heard it here first!

In other news, Liverpool have gone to Kiev, the cyclists have gone into the mountains and after a sun filled week, the first test at Lords started under grey skies on the wicket and general gloom off pitch. People we thought guilty of murder or attempted murder have been found guilty of murder or attempted murder and Donald has put world peace on hold, for now.

And yesterday was International Chardonnay Day – although we didn’t need any more help after the Gin – so we have decided to celebrate it today by cracking open a bottle for tasting.

The lucky winner this year is De Wetshof Estate ‘Lesca’ Chardonnay 2017 – £14.99
Named after Danie de Wet’s wife, this is a lightly wooded Chardonnay, exuding lively aromas of citrus, green apple and butterscotch on the nose. With the elegance and intensity of great white Burgundy it has a complex, racy palate of lemon, peach and ripe apple flavours with nutty and mineral notes. Stonking value and an all-round food matcher.

With every white there oft comes a red and this week is no different. Failing to find a Red Chardonnay on our shelves (a job for next week Wayne, you love buying new wines whilst I’m away!) we have decided instead to open a bottle of Alpataco Malbec 2017 – £13.99, which will tasting nothing like a white wine, I can assure you.

From Patagonia, the most southerly wine producing region of Latin America, lying to the south of Mendoza and Las Pampas, this is country where they eat steak three times a day, drink Malbec and ride horses – very much like Wimbledon Common. A fabulously smooth mouth-feel, this is a fresh and fruit laden wine that carries vanilla and caramel notes from ageing in small oak barrels and might just work with that barbecue we are all planning!

That’s it from us, apart from a little bit of admin – as is our wont on Bank Holiday Weekends, we will be closing at 6pm on Saturday 26th May and will then be closed until 11am on Tuesday 29th May – if you don’t want to end up suffering through a bottle of Progrigio, I suggest you come and see us before then!

Here’s to a sunny weekend,

All in the pink

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’d like to put it straight out there, right from the off: there’ll be no ‘will they, won’t they’ with us. We shall not be going to the Royal Wedding. Much as we may have liked a day out in the sunshine in Windsor, our hearts would have been here with you in Wimbledon Park, so we declined the invitation, our offer to supply the wine was rebuffed and we’ll be open as usual. We may have cucumber sandwiches for lunch though!

We have been following the preparations with interest and are as excited as the next guy about who the designer is likely to be. We’ve long followed the sartorial choices of Elton John who’s performing at the knees-up, Alex has the suit down as being a Prada, whilst Wayne is thinking D&G the more likely supplier. Song wise, we understand Rocket Man to be one of Harry’s favourites. Talk of all the guests being issued with Elton John style spectacles for a panoramic photograph are said to be wide of the mark.

The bride-to-be was originally to walk down the aisle to the music from the King and I but, after a quiet word from Prince Charles, we understand it’s more likely to be a Mark Knopfler tune. Whether it is a song from Local Hero or the Princess Bride is currently unclear. Our sources seem absolutely convinced that the first dance was chosen by Harry and will be the Fatboy Slim mix of ‘I See You Baby’ by Groove Armada. If anyone can get a vimeo of the Queen grooving along to this there’s a glass of wine in it for them!

So how many weddings have you been to where your team has been in a play-off, local derby, or a cup final? How will Prince William, President of the FA, play it? Given the timing of the game, is it feasible that he can deliver his Best Man’s speech and then hop into a waiting helicopter to drop in at Wembley? Will he be at Wembley and deliver his Best Man’s speech by Skype? Or has he had to knuckle down like the rest of us and just be sneaking glances at the game on his phone? For all those missed games in the past, I really hope it’s the helicopter option!

Talking of football, we see the Guv’nor has picked an England team for the World Cup and most commentary seems to focus on the fact that they are the third youngest team we’ve taken to the competition. Alex may still be smarting from not being picked to go on the Rugby jaunt to South Africa, but I’m sure he won’t mind a jaunt in goal if you just want to get the average age up!

In real sport, the Giro d’Italia is grooving along very nicely, showing us some lovely parts of Italy to visit in the future, 16% climbs on cobbles, sunshine, rain and motor racing circuits. Most importantly we have an Englishman in the lead and he’s winning stages in style, too. Simon Yates is racing like a boss, with defending champion Tom Dumoulin in second and Chris Froome some 3 minutes or so behind in 12th place.

Tasting This Weekend
At the risk of jinxing everything, we thought we’d turn the white corner pink this weekend and open up Chateau de L’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie Christine’ 2017 (£14.99 or £78 for six). A Cru Classé Côtes de Provence Rosé that many of you have been familiar with over the years. We think this vintage is particularly tasty, so come and have a taste, see what you think.

Red wise we’re assuming there may be a spot of outdoor cooking action and will open Barton Rouge 2013 (£8.99) a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz from South Africa that will be delicioso with all manner of seared food products on the grill (gas or charcoal).

Iron Man Missing, Bacchus and Gamay Noir

Friday, May 11th, 2018

こんにちは Wine Lovers,

What can I tell you about the Land of the Rising Sun? It is ancient, modern, charming, crazy, full of tradition and kindness but also has young, trendy sub-cultures. Almost impossible to describe in a holiday newsletter, let alone one that is supposed to be about wine. If you ever get the opportunity to go, I would urge you not to pass up the chance.

In other holiday news, Trumpolina and Kim Wrong ‘un are going to visit Singapore in June, whilst big Eddy has announced the chaps he’s taking on his South Africa trip with him. A surprise inclusion for many was Danny Cipriani but, on reflection, he’s worked hard at Wasps and probably deserves a trip to the South. Tottenham have managed to book a European Tour for next season, whilst at Arsenal no one will know where anything is, due to a change of management.

Back to business then, we note that Rolls-Royce have announced ground-breaking plans to build an SUV. I can imagine that the CEO’s of Volvo, Range Rover, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford, BMW (don’t they own Rolls?), Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan, Skoda, Seat, Audi, Jaguar, Peugeot, Renault, Kia, Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes, Lamborghini, Bentley and Jeep are kicking themselves, wishing they had thought of the idea. None of them have named theirs after the world’s biggest diamond though…

In other news, it appears that the Iron Man suit from the 2008 film has gone missing. We couldn’t help but wonder if an impending Royal wedding was just a coincidence. Can you think of a more awesome outfit for a stag night than Ironman?

In wine news, we understand that Dom Pérignon and Lenny Kravitz are in collaboration. It’s unclear at this stage if the Dom is going to come in a mirror glass bottle and purple fur jacket, but we’re hoping so! Full details in September, we’re told.

Tasting this Weekend

We’ll celebrate Wayne’s return by opening a white from Essex. New Hall Vineyards Bacchus 2017 (£13.99) is a cracking, summery white with a lively elderflower character from some of the oldest Bacchus vines in the country, grown in an area originally planted by Romans’, not far from Chelmsford.

Wearing the red jacket will be a Gamay Noir from Burgundy. Jean Loron’s “Jean” Gamay Noir 2016 (£13.99), a little richer than a Beaujolais, it’s a medium-bodied red with gently spiced dark berry fruits, soft tannins and a lovely fresh finish. Come along, and see how nicely these may fit into your weekend.

Wayne & Alex

And now it’s the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Hottest ever by all accounts. Take a brolly.

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Afraid you’ll have to put up with me again this week as Wayne is still single-handedly propping up the Japanese economy, whilst hopefully swerving any long term attachments to Hello Kitty merchandise.  In future I think I should read his applications for annual leave more diligently, as this is starting to feel a bit more like he’s on a sabbatical!  Oh well, as long as he brings us all back some Sake…

So we have struggled on bravely without his wit and charm to keep us going and, as a result, the weeks have just flown by and suddenly I’m writing the Friday email once again.

The essay plan for this week’s message reads, in no particular order, thus:

Giro.  Liverpool/Tottenham/Arsenal.  Elections.  Sainsbury’s.  Bank Holiday.  Weather (that always crops up).  Wine (as does this).  Fun spirits.  New Listings.  UKIP Black Death.  Japan.  There should probably be more but this is a good start.

And now to put some flesh on the bones.

In spite of the fact that our principal cycling correspondent is still on a bullet train somewhere the Giro d’Italia starts this weekend.  Now I lived in Italy for a while in the 1990’s and spent most of my days in the upper half, predominantly in Tuscany.  It is fair to say, I have never actually ventured south of Rome unless Sardegna counts.  Anyway, suffice to say my southern Italian geography is a little loose, I still occasionally reference the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and my children groan.  However, I bet none of you know that Israel is part of the Republic of Italy?  Well, it is for three days apparently, as the greatest cycling race on earth is starting there – that’s a long way back to Rome, even if you have been on the watt bike!

Liverpool made it to the CL final.  Will they be able to emulate Tottenham and beat the mighty Real?  Either way, Kane will claim the goals.  There will be no fairytales as Arsenal let Arsene down to another Madrid team – apparently there are younger chaps out there who thought the team was named after Mr Wenger, bless.

Local elections took place.  Wimbledon and Merton stayed much of a muchness, Wandsworth didn’t fall for Jeremy’s charms and UKIP had such a poor showing that their General Secretary likened it to the Black Death.  I would love to know how much they spend on media training?

Sainsbury’s and Asda getting seriously intimate whilst the rest of us wonder how they can possibly commit to a long term relationship.  The soundbite they wanted to catch the headlines was the promise to cut prices but the actual soundbite was the CEO singing songs from 42nd Street – ditto that media training question?

And now it’s the early May Bank Holiday weekend.  Hottest ever by all accounts.  Take a brolly.  We are fully prepared her though with oodles of Provençal perfection in the beautifully shaped bottles of Chateau de L’Aumerade 2017 (£14.99 or 6 for £78).  We even have a few bottles of Whispering Angel 2017 (£20.99) if you fancy seeing what all the press fuss is about.

Should Rosé not be your thing, we have all our Sacred Gins back in stock (Classic, Juniper and Cardamom), the Bonal Gentiane-Quina (£14.99) season will start again this weekend (mix with tonic and plenty of ice – delicious) and should you be in the market for jazzing up your bottle of fizz we can suggest Foxdenton Raspberry Gin (£14.99) or Chamberyzette Aperitif a la Fraise (£16.99) – neither of these need fizz but it does make it a longer drink and this a longer evening!

Back to wine now.  Frequently, whilst I am on holiday, Wayne has had moments of sheer devilment when he decides to list wines that we have previously not carried or have considered listing but never pushed the button.  In the past I have risen above such shenanigans when he vacates the premises but this time I said to myself ‘why not?’ and, since there was no one else here to tell my why not, I did.  I know right, who’s the boss?!

Just two new wines, I didn’t want to overdo it, you see:

The Rude Mechanicals Three Monkeys GSM 2016 – £12.99 – we first tasted this over a year ago, tried to order it but it hadn’t arrived from Australia yet and promptly forgot about it.  Until I remembered this week.  A classic blend of 67% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 13% Mataro from the Barossa Valley this is to my mind the style of blend that put Australia on the map – their version of the classic southern Rhône wines.  We found it really appealing without being blowsy and in your face and a real tasty mouthful for 12 and a bit quid.  Barbecue anyone?

Sepp Moser Zweigelt 2015 – £12.99 – an organic red wine from Austria, I know it’s just what you all keep asking me for.  Ok, maybe not but we will persist.  A hint of oak and juicy cherry, berry fruit and a lovely summery freshness – it’s not selling Italian Pinot Grigio that gets us out of bed in the morning, it’s selling esoteric flights of fancy such as this.  If you want to try it for yourself then rest assured it will be open this evening and tomorrow for your delectation.

Whilst on the subject of weekend tasting, as stated, I’ll open the Sepp Zweigelt as a red and for the white drinkers, following on from the huge success we had with the Accomplice a few weeks back, there will be a bottle of Flametree Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon 2016 – £15.99, from the wonderful Margaret River in Western Australia.  Lime, lemongrass and stonefruit notes on the nose whilst some lees stirring has added texture and minerality to the palate.  Shrimps?  Barbie? Don’t come the raw prawn with me, sunshine!

Well, it seems like I’ve manged to get all the salient points into some sort of order and the punctuation isn’t too bad (!) so I think my work here is done but for a last couple of things.

We’re closed on Monday, because it’s Bank Holiday.

We do sell ice and beer and other things too but this weekend I feel Rosé will run the show.

Enjoy the sunshine!!