Archive for October, 2018

Be Excellent To Each Other

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It has turned a bit fresh in the mornings perhaps but it seems incredible that we’ll be putting the clocks back this weekend, doesn’t it? If you’re stuck for something to do with the extra hour I might suggest having a spin through Richmond Park, the colours are turning really rather splendidly.

We received an email this week, it was an apology. Intrigued, I read it all the way to the bottom so surprised was I to receive an email apology. It turns out there was good reason for being sorry, they’d sent us an email from a sister company, in direct contradiction of all the GDPR rules.

Let me explain, a company we’re on the radar of, let’s call them ‘Only Booze’, continually try and sell us in-depth industry studies and annual subscriptions. So far we have managed to resist their temptations, cynically viewing the in-depth study of ‘Big Seven Booze Trends’ and it’s £600 ex VAT price tag as perhaps less relevant to our small local wine shop.

So to get to my point, it seems this sister company, let’s call them ‘Only Clothing’ also seem to offer in depth industry studies and annual subscriptions at exactly the same price as Only Booze. Interestingly, the latest in depth study they offered us was entitled ‘When Things Go Wrong’ for which they apologised.

In a similar vein Trumpolina, who only last week was making jokes about a Republican Congressman convicted of assaulting a Guardian reporter, has this week taken a very different approach to civility. He is suggesting that “Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective,” and called on the media “to stop the endless hostility”. Sadly, I didn’t see the speech so can’t tell you if he blushed, even a little, when he said it. Seems to me even Fake News is now so yesterday, you don’t even need to make it up. It’s a good job he doesn’t think restarting the Cold War will fix global warming. Err…

In Brexit news this week, UKIP MEP’s may have had their best ever attendance record in Strasbourg as the Parliament announced the transition payments and allowances for clearing their desks and offices by the 29th March. All good things come to an end, it would appear, but not before a pay off!

In wine news this week there are all sorts of snippets. A bottle of 1945 Domaine Romanée-Conti sold for £424,000 last week, undoubtedly a great vintage but you can’t help but wonder if it’s getting a bit long in the tooth? Still it’s the most expensive bottle of wine, ever. England’s grape harvest is looking fairly sensational, only a winemaker can mess it up now! Most excitingly though, there is talk of a new train service that could link London and Bordeaux in less than five hours. It seems to me that’s a proper sit down lunch, in Bordeaux, in a commutable time. What’s not to like?

Finally, a 20 year old in Selkirk has been ordered to carry out 90 hours unpaid work after admitting hitting himself over the head with a wine bottle, drawing blood and knocking himself out.

Wine School
Although we’re only a short way into the current term, many of you have been asking dates for when we’ll run Wine School again. We’ll start on Wednesday 6th February and run the six week course over seven weeks skipping 20th February for half term and finishing on Wednesday 20th March. We’ve held the price at £150 and you’ll taste around 60 wines. (An absolutely spiffing Chrimble present!)

New Wines
We’ve bought some new wines this week. Domaine Cherrier Sancerre Rouge 2017 (£22.49) is not something we generally go for, but to be honest this was so tasty we didn’t want to miss it. (Apparently that’s known as FOMO, we are reliably informed by young people). Also Vieux Chateau Gaubert 2010 (£26.99) a delicious Graves from a great vintage that’ll be very tasty should you be planning some roast beef in the near future. On the white front, the new vintage of Zeppelin Riesling 2017 (£14.99) has finally landed.

Tasting this Weekend

Having mentioned it above I propose opening the proceedings with Max Ferd. Richter Zeppelin Riesling 2017 (£14.99) before moving swiftly on to De Martino Legado Carmenère (£13.99) which could be just the ticket with that Roast Pork on Sunday (make sure the oven is hot for first 20 mins so the crackling is crisp!)

Bill and Ted were right “Be excellent to each other”

Half Term, Tissues and Mad Cows

Friday, October 19th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,
Boof – and here it is, half term already and the countdown to Christmas commences! 66 days, since you ask and we’ve already sold our first six box of Bollinger for the festivities! If you deduct lengthy half term holidays from this figure then by the time we get them back into uniform there will only be about 50 days – it’s practically here, have you ordered the turkey?
I know we’ve talked about this before but as we’re in the midst of another month of charity-influenced abstention so the media is having its usual field day promoting alcohol free gins and the like. We actually hear of one made in Ireland, by a 16 year old as part of her D of E project, that is called Driver’s Gin. What a great name, we thought, smart, simple and catchy. What we also thought was how can a 16 year old create such a drink? Surely, to make it authentic, one needs to taste it and know exactly what’s missing and how to replicate it which relies on many years of immersion in Gin and Tonic and Martini’s which we’re hopeful she hasn’t had – we expect she had help…
Equally, as discussed last week, in a world where we are told the 16-25 year olds are drinking less or nothing at all, why do we need alcohol free gin? To our mind the market for Seedlip and co is to Gin drinkers who on this occasion can’t drink gin but if they could, by golly they would. If you’re not a gin drinker in the first place, you’re certainly not an alcohol free gin drinker – perhaps the market is potentially more fragile than we are led to believe?
It’s not often I get caught reading the Economist but the combined influencers of becoming a bit bored with Rolling Stone of late and my father trying to make me read grown up articles led me there. In the absence of sports pages or jumbo crosswords, I was starting to panic a little until I found an article titled ‘Pinot or pot? Cannabis v wine in California’ – my sort of story.
And it’s a great read, if you get the chance, particularly if we also take into context what has happened in Canada this week. Some Californian winemakers are bemoaning the fact that their previously cheap grape pickers have now decided to go and work for the cannabis farms that pay better and guarantee work all year round – the joy of democracy, freedom to work where you wish! Slightly more scary is the idea that sommeliers are offering ‘wine and weed’ pairing classes – I was always led to believe by my more wayward pals that mixing booze and bong was a recipe for disaster!
Anyway, well regarded drinks writer and generally well informed pundit Andrew Jefford, sums it up well, we reckon: “Cannabis drinks may become the leading medium for recreational consumption.”
Now, that’s the sort of alcohol free drink we’d be more interested in trying…
Away from the Economist, we have been rueing the day that we decided that the £3,000 entrance fee was too much to justify joining Wimbledon Park Golf Club. However, any members who are reading this, if you need help with any windfall spending we can think of 850 ways to put it to good use!
Brexit. Yeah, we know, move on.
No place for Cipriani in the England squad, yet Ashton and Hartley still get a place on the bus? I can already hear Eddie Butler, Mike Aylwin, Stephen Jones and wee Stuey Barnes sharpening their knives.
Mansize tissues are no more as Kleenex bows to public pressure to remove the sexism from nasal hygiene – I always thought they were called mansize because men had bigger noses? Certainly, I remember them being an aspirational product as a young boy but apparently I was wrong in oh, so many ways.
Mad Cow disease is back, violent crime and murder is at a new high, the clocks go back in just over a week, Alex is playing golf whilst I’m stuck at work and, as discussed, there are less days than we thought until Christmas – time for a drink I think….
We’re going to have a Second-Go-Saturday since this week we finally received the Albariño that we were meant to have on tasting last weekend – I’m sure you remember but, just to refresh your memories, it’s called Eido da Salgosa (£14.99) and is a wine Alex tasted a little while back and amongst other notes wrote ‘it should be on our shelves’. Well, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and delivery shenanigans it now is – come and taste it whilst you can!!
For the red, I’m going to stay Iberian and unleash another of our new listings – Quinta do Espinho Colheita 2014 – £14.99. A classic Douro blend with lovely brambly fruits, a touch of liquorice, a hint of oak and a really decent, long finish. Definitely a wine for this time of year…
So come in and taste the wines, we’re both here on Saturday so service has the potential to be 1.5 times better, the music roughly the same and jokes noticeably worse!
And with that, I’m gone.

Cake and Wine

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Who knew ‘Greek Barolo’ was going to be so popular? Wayne’s feeling very smug. Having spent more years than either of us will admit to nagging Alex about Greek wine and space on the shelf, we’ve bought some, sold it all and now there’s space on the shelf!

It seems someone has had their finger in the pie at Patisserie Valerie, as this week forensic accountants were called in to establish exactly what has caused the £20m hole in the numbers. Now, call me old fashioned but even for a posh cake shop that’s been around for 92 years, £20m buys you an awful lot of Rum Babas.

We’ve been involved with the accountant a bit this week, last year’s accounts, this quarter’s VAT blah blah blah but we were also discussing the business going forward, as you do. You can imagine our horror then to read headlines that suggest our future maybe in some peril.

“Nearly 30% of young people in England don’t drink” doesn’t make for happy reading from this side of the counter. Looking closer at the study you notice that by young they weren’t joking, some 22% of the people discussed aren’t even legally able to buy anything other than tonic water or Biltong in our shop! We do think over the years it’s become much harder for under age teenagers to buy alcohol since the licensing laws changed, so probably that is leading to wholesale behavioural change.

‘Quick Alex, lets diversify. There’s a golf course around the corner, should we have a chat with Big Bertha?’

“Slazenger may be more appropriate Wayne, and the street already has a tennis shop.”

It would appear some light fingered ne’er-do-well has made off with Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France Trophy. The naughty folk on the Pinarello stand left it unattended and, before you could say “Geraint get the beers in”, it was missing. Talk that the police would like Messrs Froome and Quintana to help them with their enquiries is wide of the mark, apparently. If anyone gets offered a big blue fruit bowl with gold trim, or even a cuddly furry lion toy please email the guys at Sky.

In a quick sports round up its an international week in football so nothing interesting there. (What not even Faroe Islands vs Azerbaijan?). Over in Formula 1, despite decades of competition, Ferrari seem to have lost their tactical nous. To close the cycling season, ‘Ride of the Fallen Leaves’ or Il Lombardia is this weekend. All those involved are looking forward to eating cake and letting the hair on their legs grow back for the winter. Finally, those of you who like to watch a swinging stick and a lawn with sand holes should get yourselves down to Walton Heath Golf Club for the British Masters, it’s just down the road.

Tasting this weekend

Desperately clinging on to thoughts of summer, and having gone Greek last week, this week it’s all Y Vino España!
Assuming that our chum Jaime delivers, the white corner will be occupied by a shiny new listing in Eido da Salgosa Albariño (£14.99) about which Alex said “a really special mouthfeel. This should be on our shelves.” Mmm, not sure anything needs to be added to that, come and taste for yourselves.

On the red front we shall weigh in with Palacio del Camino Real Crianza 2015 (£10.99) a delicious Rioja Crianza that has fallen into our lap rather fortuitously.

Thanks to everyone who attended last night’s Cheese and Wine tasting, you’ll be pleased to hear the negotiations with the printer were successful, and it is behaving perfectly normally today. Technology making life better every day…

Leave your ego at the door

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, a gentleman walked into the shop yesterday, a gentleman who I had not seen for a good long while now and who very much had the air of a man of rest. Or a man of the road, one or the other. Anyway, I hadn’t seen him round these parts for a while and his manner of dress was more flower power and sunshine than SW19 chic.

“I’ve not been around for ages”, which I had already established and served to explain his dishevelled appearance, “and I haven’t seen any news for a while – what’s been going on?”

So I told him. I told him about one of the most powerful men in the world resorting to playground trash talk by calling one of his fellow countrymen a ‘traitor’ and a ‘scumbag’ and how diplomats the world over are feeling underemployed and thus almost obsolete I told him about cyber hacking and other web based derring-do. “Trump?” he said. “No, the other one this time but I think they have more in common than we’d like…”

I told him how 0.000003% of the population of the UK had succeeded in getting a Costa coffee advert banned for suggesting that a breakfast of a bacon roll or an egg bap might be a decent alternative to poorly-ripened avocado toast. Apparently the advert was banned because it was seen to ‘condone or encourage poor nutritional habits’. I hope that both of the people who filed the complaint get their senses of humour back soon. Speaking of banning things that ‘condone or encourage poor nutritional habits’, where does this leave McDonalds or Walkers crisps or Pizza Hut et al, I wonder?

“Snowflakes” he muttered.

And then I told him about leaving your ego at the door, about winning the Ryder Cup, about backing the underdogs. I told him about Mourinho and Pogba and Antonio Valencia and then reminded him about leaving ego at the door.

We then moved onto the world of adult drinking. “£850,000”, I told him, “that’s how much you would have got for your bottle of 60 year old Macallan from the 1920’s if you hadn’t drunk half of it making Rusty Nail cocktails with that hipflask bottle of Drambuie you won in the bottle tombola…”

And now that he was all caught up on the important events of the last few weeks, he strolled to back of the shop, removed the flowers from his hair and Birkenstocks, put on his Fred Perry and Levis’ and pretended to be ready for work – “Caffè corretto?” was all I heard as he wandered over to Saucer & Cup for a break…

So, Wayne’s back, bringing misty mornings, chilly evenings and bracing days. His return means it’s eyes down, no more holidays until Christmas, roast dinners, hearty stews and red, red wine. Which also means that as time goes by, we are likely to be tasting some of the more traditional autumnal wines, so this weekend we’re going to open a couple of Greek wines because we really, really like them and we’re not sure when we might be in a position to open them otherwise.

Ktima Gerovassiliou White 2017 – £19.49
In 1981, Vangelis Gerovassiliou started reinvigorating the 2.5 hectare family vineyard approximately 25km south-east of Thessaloniki. The vineyards are about 3 km from the sea, which borders the vineyards on three sides, tempering the warm summer days. This wine, a blend of Malagoussia and Assyrtiko, is a deliciously crisp citrus and peach flavoured drop with a splendid seam of minerality. Ktima Gerovassiliou is internationally recognised too – US publication Wine and Spirits Magazine has named them ‘Winery of the Year’ four times.

And the red is a wine we’re very excited about.

Markovitis Xinomavro 1999 – £28.99
So often wine needs to be fun, needs to be exciting and needs to get the blood pumping even before you’ve pulled the cork. So often it isn’t. This however had us at Chateau. This is mainly because this was the only word we could pronounce on the label since everything else, apart from 1999, was Greek to us. Thus all we knew when we tasted it was that it was almost 20 years old, that it was from Greece and, thanks to a bit of help from a friend, that it was made from Xinomavro. Great; very excited. Xinomavro can make really long lived wines and in fact can be really quite unapproachable at less than 5 years old unless you have a particular penchant for dry tannins, in which case 2013 Bordeaux would be a cheaper fix.

‘Greek Barolo’ is what our tasting notes came up with. A rounded, perfumed nose with classic hints of balsamic and violets whilst still absolutely fresh as a daisy, with integrated but evident tannins and a marvellous length finish. It’s not cheap but I reckon for the class of wine it is, it more than justifies its price tag and certainly justifies a herby leg of lamb from the butchers….

That’s all for now – swing by for a taste and a chat, we’d be delighted to see you!