Archive for December, 2018

Winter Solstice, Opening Hours and Sober Fairies

Friday, December 21st, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So here it is, Winter Solstice, everybody’s having fun… which means we are knee deep in the debauchery of Saturnalia and bang in the middle of the shortest day – Wayne, our own Lord of Misrule, has this year eschewed his ‘must wear shorts on the shortest day’ tradition, on the grounds of Health & Safety or was it perhaps common sense, you choose.

By all accounts the sunrise this morning in London was at 8.03 and it will set at 15.53 this afternoon, which gives us less than 8 hours of daylight today. In truth, it feels like the sun has been well over the yardarm for a lot of us for much of the last week as I’m sure you can confirm – the prospect of the days now getting longer is but a blessing!

So, aside from the deep midwinter and longest night celebrations, what else have we got to look forward to over the next week or so? Obviously a full calendar of football fixtures this weekend and all through next, sadly without that other Abbot of Unreason, Mr Mourinho, who has yet again trousered a fortune for failing – he’s laughing at all of us, you do know that? Hopefully we will see the back of drone disruption and hope that this will not now become a ‘thing’ – air travel is potentially risky enough without added perils. Hopefully the government will take a well-earned (?) break, have a word with their constituents, their families and their friends and finally get it through their heads that the time for name calling and petty point scoring is over, and that when they get back it will be 2019 and we will be out of Europe well before the next solstice – those are my wishes…

And of course, we have Christmas. We’ve mentioned it before, counted out the hours for you last week and now we’re a whole lot closer. Our last courier deliveries for arrival before the 25th have gone, it’s all down to bodies in the shop now – only 4 more sleeps I’m told. So, with time of the essence and a shopful of people right now, I’m going to have to bulletpoint the rest of this epistle, I’m afraid…

• We’re open until 8pm this evening, 10am until 8pm on Saturday, 11am until 3pm on Sunday and then Christmas Eve we open at 10am with the shutters coming down at 5pm
• We will then re-open on Saturday 29th December from 10am until 8pm, Sunday 30th December from 11am until 3pm and then New Year’s Eve we will open at 11am and close for the last time in 2018, at 6pm
• We are then closed until Saturday 5th January when we will have a short foray into retail from 12pm until 6pm before life returns to normal on Monday 7th January…
• We will have wines open all weekend and they will be:
• FIZZ: Domaine de Landrau Crémant de Loire Rosé – £15.99
• WHITE: Alma Larga Godello 2017 – £16.99
• RED: Casa Silva ‘Cool Coast’ Pinot Noir 2016 – £17.99
• SWEET: Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 – £15.99
• PORT: Krohn Colheita 1996 – £33.99
• NAUGHTY: Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur – £20
• SPIRITS: our usual selection of gins and other treats

And so, that’s probably it from us. As we will be closed at the end of next week, this will be our last missive of 2018 and so it just remains for us to wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and to thank you all for your custom throughout the year. Hopefully, Drinkember will not be leading into Dry January but if it does, see you in Feb!

We’ll leave with the three wise questions from Mr Neville John Holder:

Does he ride a red nosed reindeer? Does he turn up on his sleigh? Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?


Christmas Boxes

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

48 Conservative MP’s submit letters of no confidence but only 29 of them are brave enough to admit they have sent such a letter; Boris we imagine did send one but he’s been unusually taciturn of late, sitting there on the fence… and then Theresa only goes and survives the vote anyway before promising to step down later on; now that this monumental distraction is over with, can someone please focus getting a deal done? Oh, hang about, recess starts next week until the New Year but never mind, 60 working days until the end of March should be more than enough to settle all our futures!

Elsewhere, Spurs miraculously survived in Europe but promise to be knocked out early in the New Year and suddenly Sky fall out of love with two wheels and TUE’s – I feel there is more to this story but time will tell.

Oh, and it’s Christmas soon. As we’re counting working days, how does 9 more until the 25th sound? And that’s for us who are working weekends, you chaps are probably looking at just four or five more, I would imagine? Or if I were to say only 76 hours of trading until 5pm on the 24th, would that capture the imagination?

Should you be wondering, here are our hours for next week and beyond:


It’s all very well being open for all this time but what are you going to buy when you get here. With this in mind, we’ve arranged a few cases for Christmas Survival…

THE CHRISTMAS CLARET CASE – 6 bottles + gift box + tasting notes = £120

Château Béchereau 2015 – Lalande de Pomerol
Chateau Béchereau has been family owned since the early 19th century and has vineyards in Neac on excellent clay soils. This Lalande de Pomerol is a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc (20%). Half of the wine is fermented in stainless steel before ageing in oak barrels for 12 months; the other half is fermented in oak. This has given us a medium bodied, modern claret with a good balance of black fruits, toasty notes, some sweet spice and those tell-tale silky tannins that we love about Pomerol.

Château Belle-Vue 2009 – Haut-Medoc
“Very classy nose here of minerals, currants and hints of freshly cut flowers. Full-bodied, with super silky tannins and a beautiful combination of ripe fruits and bright acidity. Tension to this. Juicy. Best ever from here. (4/2012)” 93 points. James Suckling.

Chateau Cardinal 2015 – Montagne-St-Émilion
Within the prestigious satellite appellation Montagne St Émilion, Château Cardinal’s 10 hectares of vines average 30 years of age. Here Merlot, with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, grows on argilo-calcaire. Winemaker Sarah Boireau has fashioned a seductive, well-balanced claret with delicious spiced plum fruit, rounded tannin and a lovely finish. Plus it’s suitable for vegans and meat-eaters alike!!

Château Deville 2014 – Cotes de Bordeaux
This is a classic luncheon claret from the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. Medium bodied with plummy dark fruit, a little earthy cedar wood spice and just enough tannin to keep it honest. Just the ticket with a ham, cheddar and pickle sandwich on Boxing Day!

Château de la Coste 2015 – Margaux
Château de La Coste is the second wine of Château Paveil de Luze, one of the oldest properties in the Médoc. It is situated in the northern part of the Margaux appellation with vineyards dating from the 17th century and has been owned and run by the Barons de Luze Family since 1862, with Marguerite and Catherine de Luze representing the sixth generation. The 2015 is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot Noir and 5% Cabernet Franc. It has a complex bouquet of scents including blackcurrant, leather, liquorice, tobacco and plum is followed on the palate by bold, rich dark fruit flavours and a long finish.

Chateau Relais de la Poste ‘Cuvée Malbec’ 2014 – Cotes de Bourg
This has deliciously dark blackcurrant fruit, appealing with a hint of violet too, and is frankly really tasty but with a bit more weight and juice than a normal Bordeaux. It is really quite unusual to find a 100% Malbec in Bordeaux which is what made us try it in the first place – and we found a gem.

THE FRENCH CHRISTMAS CASE – 6 bottles + gift box + tasting notes = £125

Champagne Comte Decrion Esprit Noble Brut NV, Champagne
A small Champagne house that flies under the radar in many respects, despite having been around since 1933. A traditional blend of a third each of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and aged on its lees for a minimum of two years we think it offers excellent quality and value. Decent fruit and bready character, a soft, fine, creamy mousse and a decent finish.

Domaine Alexandre Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2016, Burgundy
The 13 hectare property is in the small village of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne just north of Chablis. This Cuvée is from the estates oldest vines, around 60 years old and planted by the current winemaker’s grandfather. It is an excellent, elegant Chablis with a nice richness from the old vines and a good, lean minerality.

Domaine Lebrun Pouilly Fumé 2017, Loire
About a million years ago, when we sported Oddbins polo shirts, we used to sell lots of this wine. The bottle has lost its distinctive orange label somewhere in the intervening years but the wine has lost none of its quality or verve. Gooseberry, grass, minerals, lemons and limes all crop up somewhere between the start and the nice long finish. Tip-top classic Pouilly Fumé!

Domaine Cherrier ‘La Croix Poignant’ Sancerre Rouge 2017, Loire
In the past we have been a bit wary of Pinot Noir from the Loire, sometimes feeling we were missing the subtleties others saw. This however is a totally different kettle of fish. These chaps have done a marvellous job here with excellent ripe, red fruit character a slice of minerality and some real Loire character – spot on.

Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Rouge 2016, Burgundy
Sourced from 5 parcels spread throughout the appellation with vines that date back to 1962. The grapes are hand harvested, sorted and pressed on site in Mercurey and are then brought to the domaine cellars in Nuits-St-Georges for aging.
“Purity is the hallmark of this sleek red, whose vibrant structure marshals the flavors of cherry, raspberry and currant to a lingering conclusion. Balanced and focused, this fades gracefully with berry, orange zest and spice notes.”
*Smart Buys* 93 points Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator 31/5/2018

Château Milon, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015, Bordeaux
The classic Saint Émilion blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc from 25-30 year old vines. After fermentation the wine is aged in oak barrels for 12-15 months which of course adds complexity. Fabulously rich and velvety on the palate with damson fruit, a touch of liquorice and a super, silky finish. Medium to full bodied, an absolute joy with Côte de Boeuf.

We have found that people tend to revert back to traditional favourites at this time of year hence the heavier focus on French wines. However, we do of course still have our monthly £60 and £100 cases available and indeed we also have wines from all over the world – Torrontés from Argentina, Pais from Chile and Sparkling Shiraz from Oz, should that be more the way your boat floats!


Saturday evening will find Alex and Wayne propping up the bar at The Hope on Wandsworth Common – an annual pre- Christmas tradition that never was meant to become a tradition but now somehow has… I suppose that’s how a lot of traditions start really but anyway, prior to our appointment with a pint or deux, we will have been busy in the shop (he hopes) and will have been wetting our whistles with the following:

• Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV – £45 (£35 if you buy six)
• Sylvain Dussort Bourgogne Blanc ‘Cuvée des Ormes’ 2016 – £21.99
• Domaine Cherrier ‘La Croix Poignant’ Sancerre Rouge 2017 – £22.49
• Krohn Colheita 1996 Port – £33.99
• Domaine de Clayou Coteaux de Layon 2017 – £14.99

I’ve already mentioned the Champagne and the red in the tasting notes above – the white, not so far. A classic white burgundy which is in fact the estate’s flagship wine. The grapes are hand-harvested from vines from 35 to over 60 years and the wine is aged for 12 months in barrels on the lees. The wine is racked off once and assembled in a single vat before bottling. This takes place at between 16 and 18 months, depending on the vintage. Delicate, rich and elegant, with good length, we reckon in a blind tasting it would easily be mistaken for a Meursault and this was awesome value for money.

The Port is terrible, you won’t like it. 1996 single vintage Tawny, aged in the barrel and bottled earlier this year… it’s over 21 years old, it must be out of date, I wouldn’t get near it, we’ll look after it for you, trained professionals and all that….

Finally, the Coteaux de Layon is a delicate sweet wine from the Loire made from Chenin Blanc and was a big hit at a recent cheese tasting – it’s light freshness serving as a nice foil to some of the creamier cheeses.

And if that doesn’t tantalise those taste buds we have got Gin, Whisky, Vodka and of course the Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur all open and awaiting your attention.

Nominate a driver and form an orderly queue, there’s a lot to get through!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas Liqueur, Sloe Gin & Bollinger

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’ve been beavering away this week, carry boxes down stairs, carry boxes back upstairs, drop them off at people’s houses, book couriers to drop them further afield. As a result, we have missed much of the shouty-shouty stuff going on over in Westminster. We heard there was a lot of fuss about legal advice being published but couldn’t understand why, given that the world, it’s mother, three monkeys and a giraffe had already stated which way they planned to vote.

And vote they will, as next week sees one of the most important votes in recent history. I’m surprised there’s not been more mention of it in the press if I’m honest, given the very serious impact it could have on people’s finances. We’ve been conducting a straw poll amongst customers and it would appear to be fairly finely balanced, so the question on everyone’s lips is – will they or won’t they? However, before we get to the Wimbledon Park Golf Club vote on Thursday, we just have to get past this vote on the Brexit nonsense.

We have been wondering how much all the hot air expelled on the subject is contributing to global warming? As I type this on a December day in Wimbledon Park, the temperature is a rather balmy (or barmy, you choose) 13˚C. I’m not so sure that’s normal for this time of year if I’m honest but maybe it’s the new normal.

For some, the world may have already ended. The O2 network spent most of the day yesterday without data services and hardest hit of all were our young people. Unsure how to communicate without Snapchat, Instagram or WhatsApp they have all become somewhat surly and sullen. It would all appear to be so unfair.

Talking of fair, don’t miss Alex at the Wimbledon Park Primary School Christmas Fair on Sunday. Do pop by and say hello if you’re there and perhaps buy a bottle of the Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur (£20) to get you in the right frame of mind.

It seems we may have scooped the BBC by about three years or more as Foxdenton’s Sloe Gin (£24.99) made it into the BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards. “Foxdenton claim a business heritage back to 1935, and are currently run by the descendants of the founding Major Radclyffe. With a definite affinity to the hunting-and-fishing end of sloe gin’s reputation, this is a rich fireside warmer or hipflask pull when out in the cold. Boozy, but not hot, on the nose, it wafts Battenberg at you, with lots of plum and glacé cherry fruit after the initial almond heft. Drunk, it leads with intense plum and plum skins, the fruit competing with marzipan. A rich, full mouth, especially given it is not one of the sweeter examples. Spicy pepper and coriander notes come in as well, as it finishes long.”

Told you it was good!

Wine School places have been flying and there are only three spaces left, so don’t delay if you’ve been planning to come! Details attached.
Christmas Gifts – I mentioned sending boxes above and that’s very much what we’re doing this week. If you’d like us to help with some corporate gifting or if Great Aunt Zelda in Putney deserves a Christmas box, do come and see us. It’s better done early rather than late from both a choice and success of delivery angle. Maybe a box of six Bollinger for £210?

Our Christmas cases are just about ready, the last wine arrived halfway through paragraph three above.

Tasting This Weekend
Bubbling over with enthusiasm will be Leveret IQ Brut NV (£15.99) a traditional method sparkler from New Zealand.

Wearing the white tuxedo you’ll find Meerlust Chardonnay 2017 (£22.99) recently declared one of the top five South African Chardonnays.

In the red velvet waistcoat we’ll be putting Lopez de Haro Gran Reserva 2010 (£21) which has complex berry, coffee and vanilla notes and a lovely velvety finish.


Wayne & Alex