Archive for January, 2019

Globally, it’s still a mad world….

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Blimey, it’s been beastly cold, what? Who’d be an Eskimo? 

Mostly this week we’ve been wishing we were a little bit more Australian, or at the very least in Australia for a little bit – 26 Celsius at the moment, and it’s midnight, admittedly with 78% humidity, but currently a double figure temperature is something we can only dream about.  Plus, the prospect of a long weekend in the sun, celebrating Australia Day with a barbecue and a cold one in hand, feels like something we’d be so much better at doing than standing here, in the persistent gloaming, with cold hands.

But stood here we did, with multiple sweaters and scarves on, feeling more Michelin Man than Pirelli Calendar, with fridges that felt warmer than the outside air and listening to Test match cricket direct from baking Barbados desperately trying to squeeze some warmth from the radiowaves…

Oh for godsake, stop moaning and cheer up, have a word with yourself.  This is meant to be the chirpy, end of week email that gets everyone through their lunchtime and reminds them that there is loads of fun to be had in Wimbledon Park as the weekend looms into view, not a diatribe on your wardrobe shortcomings plus it’s positively sweltering today in comparison – why don’t we look at what’s been going on in the world?

So, Tim Martin, the Wetherspoon equivalent of Michael O’Leary, has announced that from now on his prestige pubco (?) will no longer sell European wines or beers as a metaphorical two fingers to the ‘protectionist’ European Union.  They’ve already binned Moët and Prosecco last year, which for many people is no great loss, but now they are going to get rid of Pinot Grigio, Rioja and the rest.  Bold and impressive moves indeed but perhaps this stand against the evil European empire would feel more bold and impressive if he wasn’t planning to continue selling Stella Artois!

However, the one piece of sense that Tim did espouse was the suggestion that the government drop the duty on draught beer and thus encourage punters back into the pubs – whilst that’s clearly in his interest, I don’t think it’s such a daft suggestion.

Globally, it’s still a mad world.  Shutdown continues in the US and sadly nothing has changed really since last week; Greece and FYR Macedonia seem to be closing in on a name change agreement; Catherine Deneuve is selling her clothes and, in a supremely morally bereft move, three paintings attributed to Hitler are being auctioned in Berlin – where are the snowflake protests about this then?


Whilst Sydney swelters, the good people of Alloway on South Ayrshire woke up this morning with the mercury showing a quite Bahamian 10 degrees and a nice bit of drizzle. 

But why on earth do we care about the weather in the south west of Scotland?

Well, we’re not sure we do really but it does work as a clumsy lead in to the acknowledgment that Alloway is Rabbie Burns birthplace and today is his day.

So it’s all about haggis, it’s about neeps and tatties and Cullen Skink, about whisky and kilts and faux Scottish accents assassinating the Address to a Haggis; it’s about cultural appropriation in monster form and it’s all a load of fun.

Especially the whisky bit.  Serendipity was our friend last week, as a gentleman called Graham Hadley dropped in to see us.  We had never met Graham before but it transpires that he owns the trademark to the words ‘Mary Queen of Scots’.  I know, who knew?  Anyway, as a consequence, he was in town to support the launch of the film of the same name and at the same time pop around a few shops to see if anyone was interested in selling his whisky, again, of the same name.  We were one of those shops.  To be honest we were a little nonplussed by the whole thing – but being professionals that we are, we took a sample of his wares, obviously.

Introducing Mary Queen of Scots 12 Year Old Blended Malt – £35

This blend is produced for Graham by the Master Blender at Ian Macleod Distillers of Broxburn, near Edinburgh.  It comprises a minimum of 12 Premium Single Malts, all 12 years old, to reflect the 12 years in total which Mary Queen of Scots spent in Scotland.  We know that there is Glenfarclas and Glengoyne in the Blend but the rest remain the Blender’s Secret, which is quite standard practice. 

We sampled it after Graham had left, slightly concerned that it might be a bit of a gimmick and also unsure of how much it was going to cost – to be honest we were both slightly apprehensive.  However, we pulled ourselves together and gave it a try and we were very, very pleased. 

Quite dark in the glass, as can often happen with a blend, and really, really moreish.  A floral nose with sweet hints of heather honey is followed by a deliciously smooth palate with no sharp edges and plenty of warming floral character again and some characterful spiciness on the finish.  We thought it was absolutely delicious and perfect as a foil to haggis or as a suitably warming digestif, so we bought some so you could try it too!

We do of course have all our other whiskies available too, should you fancy something single malt or smoky – here’s what we have in stock:


Ardmore 1998 – £70.00

Royal Brackla 1999 – Connoisseurs Choice – £60.00

Tomatin 12 Year Old – £41.75



Bunnahabhain 11 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00

Caol Ila 13 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00

Finlaggan Old Reserve – £32.99


Ledaig 12 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00


Linkwood 15 Year Old – Distillery Label – £65.00

Benromach 15 Year Old – £60.00

The Glenrothes Whisky Makers Cut – £54.00

Strathmill 2002 – Connoisseurs Choice – £50.00

Benromach 10 Year Old – £37.99

However, if you would prefer your drinks to be less highly spirited this weekend then rest assured we’ll have a couple of bottles of wine open to try too which will work perfectly with your haggis tonight or even your barbecue tomorrow:

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2016, Mendoza, Argentina – £14.99

Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Argentina.  Its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes.  This Chardonnay has citrus and tropical fruit notes, gently underlined with vanilla from the oak, which is delicately balanced with both fruit and freshness.

Imperio Reserva 2011, Valdepeñas, Spain – £10.99

This is made by Bodegas Navarro Lopez, who have been making wine in the area since 1904.  Absolutely classic old school style Tempranillo, aged and rounded, with a colour heading to brick at the rim, liquorice and balsamic aromas combining with vanilla and spiced rich fruit on the nose.  Berry and cherry fruit flavours with spice again and a smooth satisfying finish – enormously food friendly but equally as fab as a glass of wine on its own!


Usually something we are record-breakingly poor at, so don’t get used to this… Anyway, as a warning we will be opening later next Tuesday, 29th January.  We’re going to steal some warmth in the West End as we have three supplier tastings to charge through – we will be back in the shop for 4pm, hopefully with a sheaf of tasting notes and teeth that aren’t too black

So, that’s it from us for now, come in and taste wine or whisky or perhaps both and marvel at our impersonations of Bibendum whilst we stand awestruck at your impressions of the Ploughman Poet!


Fellowship of Wine Lovers (Wimbledon Park Chapter)

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And never has this felt truer. The Fellowship of Wine Lovers (Wimbledon Park chapter) seems to be going from strength to strength this month, in spite of Wayne’s attempts last week to persuade us all to give up eating meat and grow their hair whilst riding a unicorn or something. Yes indeed, the potency of our 6 for 5 offer has brought plenty of you out of the woodwork, although I suspect most of you were quite near the surface anyway, and has even encouraged a few of the January abstainers to stock up whilst the going is good.

And how long will the going be good, now that’s a question?

At least in December the raging uncertainty we felt every time March 29th 2019 was mentioned could be allocated to the ‘let’s worry about that next year, for now it’s Christmas’ pile but now the press countdown is in days rather than months. As ever the media is paying close attention to two subjects of particular fascination to the British public – house prices and holidays. Apparently the housing market is stagnant at the moment (isn’t it always at this time of year) and if you’re planning on driving to the continent this year you might need to get all the stuff we used to have to need to get 20 years ago when we drove to Europe. An International driving licence apparently takes 5 minutes in the Post Office whilst the Green Card could take up to a month to get from your insurance company, which seems odd considering you can set up a new insurance policy in about half an hour. All this doesn’t seem so bad really to us but perhaps we have a vested interest in being positive since over the next few months one of us is planning on driving in Europe more than once, one of us is planning on buying and also selling some property, and one of us just likes going on holiday…

The real battle we’ve faced this week is to find some news that doesn’t involve the obvious Westminster based shenanigans. Late night tennis, a new planetary diet that threatens to turn us all into walking mung beans and a 700kg pet crocodile mauling it’s owner to death didn’t seem worthy of further investigation. The USA is still in shutdown, which just serves to remind us that political madness, intransigence and an inability to negotiate with your opponents is not just for these shores.

So, if we can’t tell how long the going will be good, might we suggest we just seize the day and take control of our own destiny – and what better place to start than getting some wine in and not paying for all of it, especially before the duty increases at the beginning of February (yep, that was hidden in the midst of the autumn statement).

6 FOR 5 – as Wayne explained last week, it’s a remarkably simple mechanic but I’ll go over it again just to be sure. Choose 6 bottles of wine, or beer, or a mixture of the two and you’ll only pay for five of them. A straight 16.6666666666666666666666666666% discount in effect but one that we shorten to 16.66% since our till only works to 2 places. It also works for fizz but that is true all year round so needs less limelight but doesn’t work with the posh cuvees or spirits unfortunately. Come into the shop and we’ll walk and talk you through it.

The other thing that the Fellowship of Wine Lovers (Wimbledon Park chapter) seems to have become increasingly engaged with is wine tasting. We have already had about a dozen enquiries for private tastings and February and March are starting to look quite crowded. However, amongst all these private do’s, we are still offering our Wine & Cheese evenings too.

Dates were released last week but I just thought I would remind you that the first of this year’s series takes place on Thursday February 14th at 8pm, here in the shop, £20 per person.

Fully aware that occasionally people have other things to do on this date we have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest that has been shown – a combination of being the last Thursday before half term coupled with the perfect excuse not to go out for a set menu with dozens of other couples trying not to argue on this day, of all days, how could you? means that places will start filling fast – we can only fit in 12 of you in total, so if you fancy it give us a call 0n 020 8944 5224 or respond to this email – don’t tarry!

Tasting this weekend

The Creation wines went down magnificently last weekend and we are looking to get some on the shelves soon. The one issue with showing wine samples is that you can’t buy them on the day so this week we are back to normal, as it were.

So the white corner will be populated with Castanzu Vermentino di Sardegna 2017 (£10.79) a crisp dry white from Sardinia that is a splendid partner to frito misto, fish and chips and a gnocchi pesto.

For the red corner we’ll drop in on somewhere enjoying warmer weather than us. Flametree Shiraz 2016 (£18.99) from Margaret River in Australia would be a great partner to some beef short ribs and horseradish mash, or peppers stuffed with lentils and rice.

That’s enough from us for this week, stay warm and upright!

What is January to you?

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A Happy New Year to you all, we’d like to wish health and happiness in abundance with just enough stress to help you appreciate the good stuff more.
Has anyone got any good resolutions going on? At this end of the wire we’ve had Wayne resolving to find a new joke and Alex promising to laugh at it should it happen. Sadly, both seem a bit pie in the sky but we’ll struggle on.

So what is January to you? For us it’s a big VAT return, large gaps between customers and a fair chunk of tastings.

Veganuary certainly seems to have worked for Greggs, whose vegan sausage roll has taken up nearly as much column space as Speaker Bercow.

Dry-January is something we try not to encourage for obvious reasons. If you’re giving it a go, we’ll wish you luck and welcome you back with open arms when you’re ready. Should you have a hankering for a fizz Friday we’d just ask if you’ve tried our alcohol free sparkler Bees Knees (£5.99).

Ginuary is definitely one we like the sound of. For a start, it’s inclusive for all the Veganuarists – there’s definitely no animal slavery in a bottle of Gin. There is also plenty of variety of gins, mixers and cocktails. How about Sloe gin and ginger beer perhaps? Or maybe a ginger martini to ward off this cold weather (Try a slug each of Kings Ginger and Hepple Gin shaken over ice, then served with just a splash of blood orange juice and a twist of peel too!) If you don’t have a cocktail shaker that protein shake bottle will do the trick perfectly well.

Tanuary we believe involves heading somewhere warm and sunny for a month, appealing certainly, but not practical with the commute. Worth investigating in retirement, we suspect.

Danuary involves wearing red sweaters and eating cow pie, the very antithesis of Veganuary!

Fanuary is, apparently, similar to Movember, don’t ask…

Tri-January we think may involve entering and training for a triathlon. You’ll know better than us if that’s likely to be your thing but do give us a wave if you see us when you’re out training.

Try- January is another version we like the sound of. Try something new each week would be our thoughts, be that a new vegetable, a new magazine or a new radio station. Wayne tried the vegetable salsify for the first time this week, there’s a new compilation album, Step Forward Youth on Greensleeves, that’s definitely worth a listen for the reggae lovers amongst you, it certainly made us feel warmer.

We’d also suggest trying one of our Cheese & Wine evenings. We’ll try four cheeses with seven wines all for £20. Sound good? Here at the shop from 8pm on the following Thursday evenings…

Thursday 14th February

Thursday 14th March

Thursday 25th April

Thursday 23rd May

Thursday 20th June

Thursday 18th July

Book your place promptly as they tend to fill up fast!

January Jollies
As has become our custom we are operating our annual January ‘Buy six bottles and you’ll only pay for five of them’ deal. That’s a whopping 16.66% discount that we like to think of as a thank you for your continued support, rather than a cynical ploy to get you in the shop in this quiet month. As usual we’ll make exceptions on spirits and the posh champagnes for operational reasons.

Closed – Monday 14th January – All Day
We’ll be at a big supplier tasting all day on Monday 14th January so the shop will remain closed. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Tasting This Weekend

In the spirit of Try-January we will be opening some fine samples this weekend.

Alex met a chap from a South African winery a few months ago and he very kindly arranged for us to receive some samples. It’s top, top quality wine from an estate founded on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge near Hermanus. We’ll taste a Chardonnay, a Reserve Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Syrah/Grenache blend all from Creation wines, named the Most Wine Innovative Estate in South Africa at the 2016 Great Wine Capitals of the World Awards.

These are just samples so we don’t have any stock but, depending on your feedback, we could do soon!