Archive for June, 2019

Glastonbury, G20 and Question of Sport

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

A question posed yesterday by one of my oldest friends (and I mean that both in terms of age and length of service) is one that has been confounding the greatest minds since the dawn of time: ‘So, why can’t English top level sportsmen perform under pressure?’ 

In case there was any doubt as to what he was referring to, I believe the pasting the England cricket team received on Tuesday was probably top of his list.  Comments such as ‘crumpling under the weight of expectation’, ‘putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure’ and ‘not being as good as we thought we were’ were all good suggestions for our failure to achieve.  The suggestion that we could try cheating was met with stiff opposition and it was crudely pointed out that we’d probably bottle that too.  The observation that 5 of the World Cup squad were born outside of England was merely used as an example as to how infectious the English condition can be – imagine how different life wold be if Ben Stokes had stayed in NZ?

So we need a win on Sunday, against the minnows that call themselves India followed by another wine against the land of Mr Stokes’s birth.  Easy, two form teams gearing up for the final four – what could go wrong?  Paul, our correspondent from Lords on Tuesday, was keen to reiterate to us in his report that England were ‘utterly pants’ that day; so, providing we avoid being pants, everything should be hunky dory!

Keen to avoid any work/cricket/lengthy sporting discourse, Wayne spent the first chunk of this week mingling and networking in Tuscany.  It was the AGM of the small buying group that we are members of and, this year, it was being hosted by one of the Argentine wine producers.  Whilst keen to travel to Mendoza, the ‘fly on Monday, return on Wednesday’ nature of the trip made it more sensible for the winery to decamp to Europe.  The irony of drinking Malbec in the Italian sunshine whilst enjoying the asado was not lost on him. 

However, the absence of any Italian wine at all did feel a little bit like an opportunity missed.  Apart from that, I’m told that he has seen things that he will never be able to unsee and the ‘what goes on tour stays there’ line has been used more than once.  Suffice to say, any winery that has different cigar matches for their wines is definitely not one for the fainthearted.  Apparently we need to ask him about ‘the somersaults’…?

But he was back in time for our tasting last night.  We had the pleasure of hosting Rachel from Domaine Treloar last night, or perhaps more accurately we provided a location for Rachel to host her fabulous wines.  I think it would be fair to say that it was a brilliant evening and the wines were singing.  The great news now is that Rachel will be back to do it all again on Thursday 17th October at 8pm – tickets are £20 but don’t dally, I suspect some of the guests from last night might sign up to do it all over again!

Meanwhile, our crusty friends have gone down to Glastonbury to re-discover themselves.  Admittedly the crusty appellation is probably no longer appropriate as they now all have posh jobs in defence and science but, back in the day, they were definitely fence climbing, friends of Swampy and New Model Army.  Anyway, back in 1989 the Pyramid headliners were Suzanne Vega, Elvis Costello and Fela Kuti; 1999 brought us R.E.M., Manic Street Preachers and Skunk Anansie; 2009 was the turn of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band and Blur and now, in 2019 we have ‘the’ Stormzy, The Killers and The Cure.  Wayne wants to go back to 1989 and I quite fancy 2009 – what’s your vote?

Wherever this weekend happens to find you sheltering it will definitely be from the sun we are told, Saturday being sun day and Sunday being cloud and sun day.  Both days will, however, be Scorchio! (Fast Show 1994-1997, just in case you weren’t feeling old enough already) and as a result we’ll be opening some cooling refreshers tonight and tomorrow.

Dressed in cooling white linen we have the gently charming Château Mercian Yamanashi Koshu Sur Lie 2017 – £17.50.

With a winemaking history dating back to 1877 Chateau Mercian is now Japan’s leading winery although we accept that Japan is not an enormous wine producer, its annual 22 million bottles is less than Moet & Chandon’s annual sales.  Koshu is Japan’s very own grape variety, having been grown there for around a thousand years although DNA research at UC Davies has determined it to be a descendant of Europe’s vitis vinifera vine species.  We found this to be light and fresh, a little floral and with a lovely dry finish.  Excellent with some sashimi, or a seafood paella but just fabulous with some pan-fried mackerel in the sunshine!

For the redder amongst us we will be toasting the weather with a glass of chilled Rechamante 2016 – £14.99.

Hailing from Orense, in Galicia, this is a cracking red.  Made mainly from Mencía Grape variety, it is light, fresh and fruity.  The fruits are a mixture of red and dark fruits to this taster but there is no doubting its juiciness.  Dangerously easy to drink, only 12%, and bound to be a tasty partner to whatever you happen to be cooking this weekend.

That’s about it from us for this week – I’ve attached details of the upcoming tastings and also the details of the Wine School that starts again in October – have a read, see if you fancy any of them, drop us a line – easy.

Oh and the solution, perhaps, to the ‘why can’t English top level sportsmen perform under pressure?’ conundrum.  Stop watching.  Watch the women instead.  3-0 to England last night in the World Cup quarter finals and a penalty saved.  If you get the chance to see the third goal on highlights then it’s definitely worth a watch.

Stay fresh!

Be excellent to each other!

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, we started the week with a debate on the BBC that was arguably no debate at all. It was quite possibly some of the worst TV I have watched, with five clueless buffoons all talking over each other and not answering any of the questions put to them by the viewers. Some wags suggesting that it was like an ancient boy band reunion of ‘Fake That’ and ‘Worst Life’ amused this commentator.

Anyway, the target audience seemed to enjoy it but I’m not sure that was you or I, dear reader. The next day they had a secret ballot and kicked out the only member who had an idea. The secret polling then kicked out the only chap who had no hair – seems harsh but that’s politics!

Talk then returned to getting back at the patronising one with spectacles for some previous stitch up. Amber gambler had warned against it in the press but, as she was supporting the follicly challenged chap, nobody listened. Votes were lent to the Foreign Secretary, who can’t remember the nationality of his long-suffering wife, and that was sufficient to exclude the patronising chap.

Which brings us to where we are now. Fake That’s five members have been whittled down to just two, we’ll call them ‘The Reclaimers’ for they’ll walk 500 miles to get a vote from party members and they’ll reclaim Brexit, because well, it means Brexit. So look out at your country fairs, where tweed and a blue rinse reign, for the man that dances the Morris may indeed be Boris!

As it dawns on the country that a choice between buffoonery and Marxism at No.10 are now the options, many may chuck their lot in with Chukka, who now liberally sports an orange pocket square.

Meanwhile, Brussels continues its preparations. Planners, influencers and logistics experts have all been involved, and the day is fast approaching.  You guessed it folks, the Tour de France starts in Brussels on July 6th. . As we read about the contestants literally falling over themselves to make it more interesting, let’s just celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first TDF victory of Eddy Merckx, Brussels born and bred.

Big Eddie has announced his initial England training squad for the Rugby World Cup in September and some corners of the press seem surprised at the exclusion of players who’ve not played since December. I thought we’d already discovered that having a large number of caps hanging up in the shed didn’t necessarily make you the best person for the job ad infinitum.

In the cricket world cup there are some big scores and thrilling games, also a bit of controversy with 5 players getting away so far with hitting stumps without dislodging bails. We’re halfway through now, so catch some if you can.

In the footie World Cup, Scotland head home after squandering a 3-0 lead over Argentina, whilst also being at the cruellest end of goal line technology. England went through, top of their group after straight wins.

We’ve been busy with Cheese & Wine this week, a private one on Wednesday for a group of chums, and then one of our regular Cheese & Wine evenings last night. As we’re getting along to the end of the season, with just a couple of places left for Thursday 18th July,we thought it expedient to come up with the dates for Autumn.

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – £20

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – £20

Thursday 28th November – Cheese & Wine’s Greatest Hits for 2019 at 8pm – £20

If Cheese & Wine is not your thing we also have these…

Thursday 17th October Domaine Treloar at 8pm- £20

Thursday 5th December Champagne & Fizz at 8pm – £30

If you’re already busy on all of those dates, we’re sorry you’ll miss out on the fun!

Wine School

As Alex mentioned last week, summer is coming and you’re all going to disappear for large chunks of July and August. Give yourselves a reason to come back, if you leave it till September there’s a risk that the Wine Course you meant, but forgot, to sign up for before you went away is now subscribed.

Six Week Wine School –

Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person – Full details attached, unless we forget!

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll be wearing white shirts with Domaine Lebrun Pouilly Fume 2017 (£17.99). 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.

We’ll be wearing red shorts with Lopez de Haro Gran Reserva 2010 (£21). After conducting extensive tastings, our in-house team (Alex and I, sacrificing ourselves again!) selected this silky little number. A blend of Tempranillo and Graciano aged for 30 months in oak barrels, it has complex berry, coffee and vanilla notes and a lovely velvety finish. A tip top Gran Reserva delicious with that pork chop you picked up at the Farmer’s Market for the barbecue on Sunday.

Finally news reaches us that Bill & Ted 3: Face The Music is now in production, so in their words: Be excellent to each other!

Rain, Raspberry & Rhubarb

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Alex has been holding forth this week, to anyone that will listen, about the joys of being old – and he should know.  The prospect of varifocals, varicose and various niggling ailments all sound too exciting to have to wait for and that’s before he came to his punchline – the older you are the more memories you have, providing you can remember where you put them of course….

So, with memories in mind and a Friday email to write, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane and see what we had written in the mid-June emails of years gone by.  My main purpose for this was to see on how many occasions we had mentioned the weather being rubbish for the time of year because, with our rose tinted peepers on, we oft forget.

So without further ado, the opening lines of our emails for the last 8 years:

17th June 2011

It had to rain really, it was Ladies day at Ascot.  Standing on Wimbledon Common on Thursday morning, gazing at an extremely bespattered, but nonetheless happy dog, a bizarre thought crossed my mind – I don’t have enough wet weather/monsoon clothing.  In June.  The week before the tennis starts.

Hurray, it was just as awful in 2011 as now – vindicated!

15th June 2012

Queens tennis in the afternoon, Euro football in the evening, US Open Golf following on from that – it’s already a busy weekend in Park Vintners World (new theme park coming soon), before we’ve even thought about selling any wine!

No mention of rain, plenty of sport though, funny that….

14th June 2013

Undoubtedly the most important news across the desk this week was that Mighty Boosh are to reform and play Festival Supreme at Santa Monica pier. Any chance of a London gig guys?

A shameless pitch by Wayne for some free tickets.

13th June 2014

So here’s our problem, we don’t have enough tellies.  The Test match starts at 11am, during which time Wayne wants to watch the Criterium-du-Dauphine cycling, then Queens wakes up for the tennis, now without Mr Murray.  At 2pm the US Open golf starts its day and then later on we have World Cup football.  Oh, and did I mention the Men’s Hockey semi-finals?

Sport and tellies – no obvious connection to wine here.

12th June 2015

So, I sent him off into the big city yesterday, with a bag full of corporate gifts, an oyster card and his mobile phone, which we had cross checked as being on and unusually, not critical for battery.  It was a lovely day, as you all know, so he had his shorts on and I really didn’t expect him back in a hurry.

Slightly surreal email this one, relating to a supposed striptease in St Pauls by one of our staff members….

17th June 2016

This week has been fun hasn’t it? Write the a-board put it out in the sunshine, watch the rain wash it off and repeat. Seven or eight times a day.

Hooray, it’s raining again!

16th June 2017

So here’s a question – what’s in a name?

So here’s the answer, you really don’t want to know…

15th June 2018

It’s been a funny old week, starting off in acrimony over the G6 ½ at the weekend. The take home being that Trumpolina seems to think that Europeans don’t buy enough bullets, and that Justin Trudeau is economical with the truth. The picture tweeted by Mutti Merkel seemed to sum it up, though our in house art expert insists that comparing the picture to renaissance art is a bit wide of the mark.

No weather or wine or sport in the opening lines – what were we thinking?

And now here we are, the 14th June 2019 – Wayne has been wearing shorts, valiantly and varicose free, for the last two weeks but yesterday even he snuck back into his Levi’s – those jokes about summer starting and finishing in February seem a little too prescient now.

Don’t blow your nose!

Not one but two sportsmen have been caught out doing just this over the last few days.  The Chris Froome incident is well reported and we wish him well of course – I have to say though, 35mph is a two-hands-on-the-handlebar speed for me.  Meanwhile, in the cagey world of UFC, fighter Donald Cerrone suffered a broken nose during a bout in Chicago.  In order to try and clear some of the airways between rounds he blew his nose and this clearing caused his right eye to swell shut immediately.  Not a photo for the faint-hearted, I’d suggest.

High street royalty

One of the biggest wine retailers released their full year figures yesterday, without much to cheer about.  Having shown some fairly epic losses over the last 12 months they aimed to reassure investors by suspending final dividends (?) and talking ‘positively’ about selling 200 of their branches – they seem to have 210 in total according to their website. 

So, suspend the divs and sell all the shops – not sure why you think there’s a problem?!  Still, at least they are in ‘advanced talks’ with multiple bidders over this sale.  However, if it doesn’t complete they will continue trading through December before starting afresh in 2020.  To our minds, these ‘advanced talks’ don’t sound quite as ‘advanced’ as advanced often means!

Raspberry & Rhubarb

Foxdenton, our fruit gin suppliers, kindly dropped off some reinforcements this week, just in time for the sunshine.  The 35cl bottles are perfect picnic partners and should fly out the door once we’re all back in shorts and polo shirts…

Foxdenton Raspberry Gin – £14.99

Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin – £14.99

Wine School

So, we held our seasonal Rose tasting last night – as you can imagine we had the heaters on full and battened down the hatches to ensure a tropical feel and a thoroughly jolly time was had by all.  What’s this got to do with Wine School you ask?  Well, everybody who was on the tasting last night had signed up quite early on for the limited spaces available – we have, in more recent days and weeks, had to disappoint quite a few of  you who had been meaning to sign up but had forgotten to actually do the signing up bit.

Which is how this links with Wine School. 

Very soon a reasonable portion of you will be, quite reasonably, disappearing off to sunnier climes for the summer and will be in and out of Wimbledon for most of July and August, oblivious to the fact that the Park Vintners Autumn Wine School is surreptitiously filling up.  Fast forward to September and the risk is that the Wine Course you meant, but forgot, to sign up for before you went away is now subscribed.

6 Week Wine School – Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person – Full details attached, unless we forget!

Wine & Cheese

If you don’t fancy six weeks of school but would actually prefer one evening of wine with a side order of cheese, then the good news is that we still have 6 spaces left on the next event:

Thursday 18th July – 8pm – Wine & Cheese Tasting – £20 per person

Wine this weekend

It’s Father’s Day this weekend and as our representative father, Alex has chosen these two to taste.

Sonberk Riesling V.O.C. 2015 – £23.99 – as a wise man once said, ‘what son doesn’t think his father is a berk?’, and so this wine was created. 

Obviously that has no truth about it at all and in fact Sonberk is the name of a mid-sized winery in Popice, Czech Republic.  Located in Moravia, the largest Czech winegrowing region, the winery is considered by many to be one of the best in the country, producing elegant and noble wines.  Established in 2003 but with a history dating to the 13th century, the Sonberk vineyard is 45 hectares with an extraordinary view of the Pálava Hill.  This Riesling has a beautifully fruity nose with hints of blossom and honey.  The palate has notes of dried apricots, honey and spice with a fine minerality and finish and gives its German counterparts something to think about! 

As he is planning to barbecue on Sunday, no matter what happens, the Flametree Embers Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – £15.99 is his selection for the red.  Hailing from the marvellous Margaret River region, this is a cracking drop with aromas of violets, ripe black fruits and just a hint of chocolate and coffee.  Lovely and juicy in the mouth with lovely forward fruit this would be a real pleasure with that steak he is angling for, if anyone out there is listening?

That’s all for this week – let’s all treat the sun like a large golden Tinkerbell and show that we believe, not by clapping but by sporting shorts and t-shirts and suncream to encourage it to shine – who’s with me?  Oh, alright, back as you were….

Our best tip – don’t take sports tips off wine merchants…

Friday, June 7th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And so, with that end of term feeling in the air, with journalists all desperately punning H.E.Bates novels and looking up all the different interpretations and definitions of the word May, we come to the end of Theresa Time.

By way of a small adieu, we thought we’d round up some headlines and news items that have peppered her time as leader:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he agrees with those calling for Theresa May to quit over cuts in police numbers.

This first appeared on the BBC News on the 5th June 2017 and, we notice, this wasn’t the last time that JC called for her departure

Theresa May’s narrow election victory has resulted in swathes of politicians calling for her to resign.

As The Metro happily reminds us, on the 9th June 2017, Theresa hasn’t always had the support of her team.

The Prime Minister is currently entertaining MPs at her Chequers country retreat, where she has allegedly told them she will quit as Prime Minister on August 30, 2019.

On the 27th August 2017, The Star, amongst other more prestigious titles (but they all had paywalls!), actually comes up with the most accurate prediction of all.

On the 9th November 2017, The Express spoke to Jessica Bridge, of Ladbrokes, who said: May looks safe for now, despite her strong and stable government doing their best to prove otherwise, but savvy punters are struggling to envisage plain sailing for the PM until year end.  Ladbrokes (then) said the chances of Mrs May being replaced in 2017 are 5/1 but there are 7/4 odds of it happening in 2018, 15/8 odds for 2019 and 4/1 odds for 2020 or later.

Moving to the 1st May 2018, The Mirror offers another resignation opportunity:

The rattled PM faced growing calls to resign for dodging responsibility for the heartless policies that led to the wrongful deportation of Windrush family members.  And with her “shield” Ms Rudd gone after she stepped down as Home Secretary for misleading parliament on targets, Mrs May was left exposed to attack.  But she refused four times to say whether she would quit…

On the 23rd November 2018, reading The Telegraph, we finally get back to the issue that will finally sink her – Europe: Theresa May has refused to confirm whether she would resign if her Brexit deal is rejected by MPs, as she insisted that it was the “the best deal for the UK.”  In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Mrs May was asked three times if she would stand down but refused to provide an answer.

We now know where this chapter will end but do we know where the next chapter begins?  Let’s ask Ladbrokes again…

On 9th November 2017, these were the odds on who would be the next Conservative leader:

  1. Jacob Rees-Mogg 6/1,
  2. Boris Johnson 7/1
  3. David Davis 7/1
  4. Amber Rudd 10/1
  5. Andrea Leadsom 10/1
  6. Ruth Davidson 16/1
  7. Dominic Raab 20/1
  8. Michael Gove 20/1
  9. Philip Hammond 20/1

Then, on 6th June 2019, these were the odds:

  1. Boris Johnson 4/6
  2. Michael Gove 5/1
  3. Jeremy Hunt 8/1
  4. Andrea Leadsom 10/1
  5. Penny Mordaunt 20/1
  6. Dominic Raab 20/1
  7. Rory Stewart 25/1
  8. Sajid Javid 33/1
  9. Steve Baker 50/1
  10. Priti Patel 100/1

God help us all.

Fortunately for us there have been plenty of other things going on outside of politics.  As mentioned last week, we lost money on the Giro d’Italia; we also lost money on the Champions League; ideally Johanna Konta would have kept us in the Billecart-Salmon lifestyle we’re accustomed to but sadly not.  Having decided that most of the teams in the ICC World Cup are being offered too short, we took the West Indies as a bit of an outside punt and certainly some excitement and of course an immediate loss.

Our best tip – don’t take sports tips off wine merchants…

Perhaps most excitingly though, the FIFA Women’s World Cup starts tonight and we have a very real chance of making it deep into the latter stages of the competition.  We’ve backed England to win and with an outside punt on Australia – having looked at the bookies today, there is something strange about seeing football teams from Brazil at 25-1 and Argentina at a whopping 400-1!

Anything else?  Oh yes, it’s only WORLD GIN DAY again tomorrow (Saturday).  Not as complicated as it sounds, by all accounts, and one of our number certainly considers it to be Gin day everyday but has still taken tomorrow off just to be sure he doesn’t miss anything…

Suffice to say we’ll have our tasting Gins open, and ready for sampling – a reminder of our selection:

  • Elderwood English Gin – £33.00
  • The Eclectic Gin Society Original Blend – £35.00
  • Sacred Classic Gin – £35.00
  • Hepple Gin – £38.00
  • Bloody Ben’s Earlsfield Gin – £38.00
  • Sacred Juniper Gin – £38.00
  • Sacred Pink Grapefruit Gin – £38.00

If however Gin isn’t your bag, this weekend then we’ve got Rosé, White and Red open.

Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2018 – £14.99

The same Provence rosé that we’ve had for not sure how many years now and every bit as tasty.  A lovely pale salmon colour, with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish.  We think it is the perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with the Sunday papers and a deck chair!

Palacio del Camino Real Blanco 2017 – £10.99

A cracking blend of predominantly Viura with a bit of Malvasia and Grenache Blanc, grown in the higher vineyards of Rioja Alta.  Pale yellow in the glass, with lovely fresh aromas of stonefruit and citrus, framed with a touch of vanilla from a couple of months lazing around in the barrel.  A nice alternative to a light white burgundy we reckon.

Southern Dawn Pinot Noir 2013 – £14.49

From Marlborough, New Zealand, this is a wine we have had on the shelf pretty much since we opened.  I could give you all the guff about the soil in the vineyards, the angle of the slope the vines are planted on and the winemaker’s collection of 19th century corkscrews, but none of that is really relevant.  We sell this wine because we think it tastes brilliant: light with red cherry fruit character, a nice bit of age and a lovely fresh finish.

So come in and have a taste, be it gin or wine but, if you find you can’t manage it, Alex will be manning a stall at the Wimbledon Park Primary School Summer Fair on Sunday with many of the same tasting options available!

That’s all for now from us – have a soooper weekend!