Archive for July, 2019

Winding down for summer

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, this week has been a lot less about tennis and cricket than last week. Fear not, we’ve gainfully employed ourselves with stocking up the shelves, pushing the broom round the shop followed by a Cheese & Wine tasting. Oh, and the Tour de France, which has been really rather thrilling so far, the first time since forever that the first twelve stages have rewarded us with twelve different winners.

But of course the appearance of the Tour de France really is just an outlying signal, warning of an impending disappearance. The world was in black and white, Wayne was at school and the end of term was definitely signalled when French lessons evolved into discussions as to who was following the Tour de France. Bernard Hinault was the man then, winning in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982. Indeed his final victory in 1985 marked the last French winner of the race.

So, end of term is rearing its head, with Prosecco parties in the park, letters from the headmaster and thoughts of ice-cream.  This weekend sees an abundance of festivals too, with George Ezra, Lana Del Ray and Snow Patrol at Latitude, whilst Kraftwerk, New Order and Hot Chip do the business at Blue Dot.

So, are you staying local or going somewhere nice? Reading the press, it doesn’t sound like you’ve booked with Thomas Cook, so perhaps the A303 is going to be a tad busy at points. Pop in and take a case of rosé and bubbly with you, it’s going to be a great summer.

Elsewhere in the world,  Facebook may be about to be fined $5billion for privacy violations with regard to Cambridge Analytica antics, whilst half the world gives free access to their photos for a Russian app to age them twenty years. Face recognition technology in free development!

Otherwise, just when you thought he could go no lower, Trumpolina finds a longer stick to scrape the real depths of the barrel, turning to outright racism at a rally in Carolina. Whilst on the subject of incompetent fools, Corbyn and May tried to out-racist each other with institutionalised anti-Semitism and Islamophobia taunts. 

May is, of course, about to be replaced by another incompetent fool, which looks likely to be Boris who strangely chose to wave a kipper about at the final hustings. Urban Dictionary: “to be done or stiched up like a kipper, clearly means to be duped or tricked by false information that was there for all to see”

On the plus side, we’ve been informed that our water will be clean and the planes will still be flying in the event of a no deal Brexit!

In the realm of the ‘drinks and drinking’ media it feels like some of the grown-ups have gone on holiday and the student interns are running amok.

Pernod Ricard are introducing a “premium alcohol-free dark spirit” which will have sweet vanilla, spices and oak cask wood flavours, retailing at around £25.  A £25 bottle of rum includes an £8.05 donation to the exchequer in the form of duty, plus the VAT of about £4. This new alcohol-free drink at £25, just the £4 of VAT. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see some alternatives to a glass of Highland Spring for those who prefer not to drink, but it just seems some of our trade are starting to take the margin-mickey. Twenty five quid seems a lot of cash for flavoured water to put in your ginger ale!

Wine School  

We’ve sold over half the spaces now, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun do give us a shout.

Six Week Wine School –

Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person

Future Tastings

WINE & CHEESE

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 (Half Sold!)

What Are We Tasting This Weekend?

We’re going to suggest a glass or two of Fleurie Cuvée Sept 2018 (£14.99) in the red corner, possibly lightly chilled as next week looks likely to be a scorcher.

Sporting the white golf shirt with an open collar will be Domaine Landrat-Guyollot Pouilly Fumé ‘La Rambarde’ (£20.99), it may have nothing to do with Northern Irish Golf but it’s a real winner.

That’s it from us this week, be nice to someone, help a stranger and come and taste some wine!

Wine: more or less?

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

20% of UK adults now do not drink alcohol and of those that still do, 47% have cut back their consumption.

Now here’s a question for you – how many of you have ever taken part in a survey?  Or perhaps more correctly, how many of you have taken part in a survey that hasn’t just disappeared into the miasma of data harvesting but has actually been used for a ‘greater’ good, where you can actually see the fruits of your labours and say, ’yes, I’m one of the 47% who has cut back, I remember that question well!’. 

For me, I think the closest I ever get to one is when a local newspaper makes me answer ‘one simple question’ in order to gain access to an article online.  Or when one of our suppliers wants to find out if we’re happy with their offering via survey monkey.  Or when Amazon is feeling overly needy.  Never have I been asked by Euromonitor, MORI or Mintel for my august opinion.  Clearly they already know my thoughts.

Anyway, the reason I ask is because I often wonder who is actually being door-knocked by the man from the market research company?  Is there a hardcore of form fillers out there who make a small income being professional vox pop providers?  Are the surveys only carried out mid-afternoon on a Tuesday when a lot of people are at work?  If so, when they ask the question ‘do you watch the BBC soap Doctors?’ affirmative answers dwarf negative and  the front page of The Mirror the next day informs us that more than 90% of the British public watch afternoon soaps.  Clearly not true.

If you are a serial survey subscriber then do come and talk to us – we’d love to hear your secrets! 

End of impromptu market research bit.

In the world outside of wine, because by all accounts there is one, life meanders on.  Trump slags off a man he has never met and then proceeds to slag off the PM too whilst Boris somehow gets blamed for the aforementioned civil servant’s resignation.  Confused?  Don’t worry; there’ll be a new outrage along shortly.

In the other world outside of wine, we are facing Blue Tuesday next week.  Having had all available devices streaming the cricket, the tennis and the Tour de France all this week, the 16th July will find us bereft – Wimbledon and the World Cup will have wrapped up on Sunday and the cyclists are taking a rest day on Tuesday so, if you want great, undistracted customer service, that’s the day to choose – we’ll both be here, eager and attentive!

However, within the wine world, we hear of the latest easy way to spend 30,000 euros, with a distinct whiff of the emperor’s new clothes.  A Bordeaux producer, Liber Pater, has announced that their 2015 vintage consists of just 550 bottles and each of these will leave you pocket change from £27,000.  I do wonder if the vineyard has taken the Mintel report a little bit too seriously when it confirmed that whilst the 47% have cut back, they are now spending more per bottle – seeking quality over quantity – but it’s still a bit of a leap for most of us pricewise! 

And the wine?  Well, we know nothing about it really – it’s made using local Castets, Tarney-Coulant and Pardotte grapes which are not the first names one reels off in a Bordeaux grape list.  Oh and they are intensively planted, at almost double the density per hectare than normally allowed in the region and then vinified in clay amphora, with no use of oak.  To the uneducated, and I very much include myself in this realm, this actually sounds like an effective recipe for cutting costs.  Use unfashionable grapes, plant them shoulder to shoulder to increase potential yields and then save money by avoiding buying expensive, hand-made oak barriques.  Oh and it can’t be labelled Bordeaux as a consequence of all this so is merely a Vin de France… next time I moan about the increasing cost of Sassicaia and other Super-Tuscans I’ll remember to wind my neck in!

Local news

And by local, we mean really local, 126 Arthur Road local.

As discussed last week, we have various dates for your diary well worth noting and booking before you abandon ship for the summer hols.

Places are starting to fill up on the next Wine School, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun, do give us a shout.

Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person

If however you can’t commit to a six week course, here is a brief overview of what is going on over the next few months, in the evenings when the summer is over and watching boxsets just feels like brain atrophy…

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –

DOMAINE TRELOAR WITH RACHEL TRELOAR – £20

Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING – £30

Our annual journey through the world of fizz and Champagne – will the same people turn up this year we wonder!?!?

Plenty to choose from there – drop us a line if any of them tantalise!

This weekend

After many weeks of waiting we finally have Cretan wine back in stock and more than last time.  Not content with just having the delicious Assyrtiko we now also have a red, Kotsifali and a small quantity of a wine called Dafni, more on that another time.

So, as is our wont, we will be opening the Assyrtiko and the Kotsifali tonight and tomorrow.

The Assyrtiko has a definite floral character, refreshing minerality and chalky texture that makes it a truly delicious foil to lightly fried white fish or seafood whilst the Kotsifali is indisputably a classic of the vineyard of Crete. Spices and red fruits with an elegant mouthfeel and a piquant aftertaste make it a deliciously fresh drop, not too weighty and seriously good with lamb kleftiko or a bit of fried cheese.

Lyrarakis Vóila Assyrtiko 2018 – £14.49

Lyrarakis Kotsifali 2018 – £12.50

That’s it from us for now – come and taste some Crete sunshine in a bottle and sign up for a tasting or two whilst you’re here.  We’ll leave you with one final thought – if 47% of us have cut back, is it not possible that 53% of us are now pulling more corks than ever?

I’ll drink to that! ed

Sunshine and Strawberries

Friday, July 5th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re not sure if it’s the sunshine, an overdose of strawberries, or the impending school holidays but the world seems to have gone mad.

First up, we’ll point out that Chelsea have a new manager. They haven’t gone for a high flying winner of everything but for a club legend in Frank Lampard. His relative inexperience at managerial level, Derby County not making promotion, prompted quite a chat amongst ourselves here at Park Vintners Towers. We wondered if Chelsea had filled a managerial post, or just become the first club to enter the Post Managerial era. Given that there’s little to be done to change the team following their past transgressions, we can’t help but wonder if Frankie is just there to be cheerful and full of stories for the press conferences.

Secondly, this Tory leadership contest seems to be taking some bizarre twists and turns as we get ever nearer. BoJo seems still to be hiding from journalists at every opportunity, whilst threatening to remove the sugar tax. Meanwhile, JeHun is happy to talk to anyone who looks in his direction and wants to bring back fox-hunting.  Both of them have promised so many tax cuts and spending rises that John McDonnell’s spending plans seem almost grown up.

Talking of grown-ups, the MEP’s of the Brexit party proved that they were anything but; turning their backs during the EU anthem, disrespecting the young musicians performing it, also disrespecting all the people who voted by behaving like naughty schoolchildren and, for historians, drawing nasty parallels with an incident in the Reichstag in 1930. What on earth has happened to integrity?

Commiserations to the Lionesses, a valiant effort and certainly this commentator enjoyed watching. Commiserations to the Kiwis, no scratch that, well played England, onwards and upwards World Cup Cricket semi-finals beckon! I also say that the World Cup Rugby training squad was announced today, seems a bit of attention seeking by the big lads, jealous of the attention the cricketers are getting.

On the local tennis tournament front Harriet Dart has set herself up nicely for a run around on the grass with World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, whilst Nick Kyrgios was spotted out for a pint or two in the Dog & Fox this week. At this stage we’re unsure if it was a quick pint, or if he was out out. Anybody in Hemingways this week see him?

Anyway, proper sport starts on Saturday the Tour de France. Stage one being a jaunt around Brussels through the town where Eddy Merckx grew up, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first Tour de France win.

Who will win this year? Dunno, if I’m honest. Certainly not Froome or Dumoulin, unlikely Quintana who’s still looking for an opportunity to attack from last year. Geraint Thomas is certainly an option, but I wonder if Roman Bardet maybe worth a penny each way at 22/1 alongside a penny each way with Adam Yates at 12/1. The bookies certainly have Egan Bernal seems to be the bookies pick, even if Richie Porte thinks G is favourite.

Wine School  

Places are starting to fill up now, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun do give us a shout.

Six Week Wine School –

Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person

Future Tastings

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 remind you of the dates for Autumn. Some are already selling through.

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

Tasting This Weekend

With the Tour de France starting we had to go French this week. Add to that the warmth of the sun on our faces, a definite blue hue in the sky and the white jersey will be…

Domaine de la Combe Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Tradition 2017 – £11.39

Found in the village of Saint-Fiâcre, which lies nestled in the cradle of the Muscadet appellation, between the two rivers of Sèvre and Maine.  The slopes of these river valleys give the vines a unique exposure and lead to Saint-Fiâcre being considered one of the best sites. Wines are made from vines first planted in 1950’s – a rarity in the area as most are dug up after 40 years – with the latest planted in 2016.  After working in vineyards across the world, Pierre-Henri Gadais returned in 2016 to take over the Domaine from his father Christophe, to whom the previous owner – the local legend Nelly Marzelleau- had passed on the estate in 2009.

Charging up the Tourmalet in the boot of the Commissars red car will be Le Ciel Vide 2015 (£12.49) Named after a Bruce Springsteen song “Empty Sky” which, for us expressed most clearly the memories of September 11th. This unoaked red is made from Syrah and Grenache.”  The tasters at the recent Domaine Treloar tasting called this the most complex 12 quid wine they’d had, and ‘a real no-brainer’.

Lastly, police in London last week seized a staggering 461 cars for driving without insurance, that’s a June total of 1886! Let’s be careful out there!

Cheers s