Archive for August, 2019

Alex is back, Reading and Negotiation

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, another watershed weekend is upon us. 

As the summer holidays stumble to a close, we have the last Bank Holiday of the year until Christmas and, by all accounts, it’s going to be a stonker.  3pm on Saturday afternoon we have forecast of 29 degrees here in town, 26 degrees down in the southwest and even 23 up in Northumberland; southern Spain will be 27 Celsius so, frankly, you might as well save your air-miles, and the planet at the same time, and just set up a gazebo on the common.

Given the state of play over the last few weeks it didn’t seem possible that it could get even quieter here in Wimbledon Park but quieter it has definitely got and it would be fair to say we are starting to become very envious of anyone who is able to work from home/work remotely.  One of our friends has been happily sending snaps of the view from his Greek island hideout, with his computer in the foreground and the caption ‘today’s office!’  – since we have but the view of Melrose Avenue from the shop and never have the chance to work from home, his humble brags have not been received too favourably!

Has the news taken a snooze, too?  Well, Boris is taking his 15 minutes of fame very seriously, travelling Europe, talking a lot, putting his feet on the French President’s table and hopefully becoming a negotiator of the stature of a Mandela, a Kissinger or a Roosevelt rather than a Trump!

Following on swiftly from A-level results, GCSE’s came out yesterday.  This was immediately followed by the entire 16 year old population of SW19 decamping to the Reading Festival armed with supersized portable chargers, a sleeping bag, definitely no alcohol and definitely no books – no reading at Reading apparently!  The Foo Fighters are headlining on Sunday, we still remember being teenagers when Dave Grohl’s first band was in its pomp – what on earth was their name again?

Cricket continues to delight and despair us – and also scare us just a little bit too.  Funny old weather yesterday but we managed to get some wickets although it seems that the Smith replacement, Labushchagne, should possibly have been in the starting eleven anyway.  Still, as we all know by now, anything can happen in Test cricket.  Football is all over the shop with Liverpool and Arsenal the only premiership teams with a full tally of points and Chelsea just above relegation whilst Fulham seem to be loving being back in the Championship. 

And of course, as you all know, Spain’s classic cycling race, La Vuelta, starts its journey on Saturday.  They’ve got a quick stop in Benidorm on Sunday, so if that’s where you happen to be holidaying, keep your eyes open for men in lycra.  Keeping with La Vuelta, it’s nice to know that at least one Englishman will wear the red jersey this year – Chris Froome received the 2011 jersey this week after the original winner was finally disqualified for doping.  For the win this year though, Alex is wildcarding with Rigoberto Uran whilst Wayne is backing Primoz Roglic so avoid putting money on either of these two!

Elsewhere, there is still plenty of talk in the trade about younger drinkers not drinking.  As discussed previously, in a survey last year of 10,000 16-24 year olds, 29% didn’t drink at all, which is a 10% increase of non-drinkers over a decade.  However, in a bit of a blow perhaps to Seedlip and their ilk, ‘they don’t see the point in alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits, preferring a glass of water if they choose not to drink.’ Drinks Retailing News 16-08-19.  It seems that some of those surveyed, those between 16 and 18, shouldn’t be drinking anyway but that’s a conversation for another time….

The ‘good’ news is Alex is now back from his travels and Wayne can have a day off.  If you can get him to stop talking about how good the olive oil is in Jaen, how great the ham is in Salamanca and how cheap the wine is in Carrefour he might pour you a tasting sample and let you get a word in edgeways.  Five euros for a brilliant Godello, four euros for lovely Verdejo – yep, thanks mate, very interesting but you do realise you were buying these wines in the country of production, that whilst VAT in Spain is 21%, excise duty is currently nil and you haven’t even factored in transportation costs to the UK!  Of course the wine was cheaper there, you muppet – why do I have to remind you of this every time you go on holiday!?

When he does eventually pour you a glass there’ll be a choice of two, as ever.

The white will be, in fact, a rosé.  It has come to our attention that we are now here at the rear end of August and we haven’t had our best seller on tasting yet. 

So, step by and have a taste of Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2018 £14.99 (6 for £78).  This Chateau is a 400 year old vineyard in the heart of Provence.  Its red soils are rich in minerals, giving it an edge on the quality stakes amongst its neighbours.  This edge was recognised in 1955 when the estate was designated “Cru Classé”.  A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff 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.  Oh, and it’s very suitable for vegans!

Staying in France, we will visit Beaujolais for a change and for a light red, suitable for chilling.  Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ 2018 – £10.99.  There’s been a quiet revolution going on in Beaujolais, some of the smartest burgundy winemakers have been buying up parcels of land, Co-operatives have been merging, and there has been a quality revamp too.  This wine is from the villages of Jullié and Emeringes, and grown on the sandy granitic soils that produce the best Gamay.  Tender, round and fruity as you’d expect from a pure expression of the grape variety.  Awesome with a plate of charcuterie, but actually really versatile on the food front, so do experiment!

And that’s it from us for this week.  Still got spaces on the Wine School and some of the Wine & Cheese tastings too should you fancy.  Also as a reminder, we will be shutting at 7pm tomorrow (Saturday) and will not be open again until Tuesday morning at 11am, bright and breezy and ready to serve!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine!

Dear OOOR (part II)

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Dear OOOR,

Here we are again, another week of August passed by in a whirlwind, several showers and a sunny Thursday. I discovered this week that you have a cousin OOAR – Automated Reply, who knew?  

First up, can you please pass our congratulations to everyone who received their A-level results this week. All that hard work and now the flush of excitement of something entirely new – Well done all!

Elsewhere, England harnessed the power of rain to improve their chances in the 2nd Test of The Ashes with no play whatsoever on the first day. Those refunds are going to smart!

On the political front, it is much more of the same old hubris from BoJo, the same old Jezza, despite the latest wheeze to get himself in Number 10. Win a no confidence vote, install yourself in No.10 then offer a new referendum AFTER a general election. Why not put it on the same ballot? That would at least save some taxpayers money on the organisational front. That said, his no confidence votes are like Nairo Quintana’s mountain attacks – much talked about but rarely witnessed.

The Home Office seems to think it a good idea to put warnings about carrying a knife on fried chicken boxes. Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “These chicken boxes will bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and challenge the idea that it makes you safer.” Now, I’m all for warning people about the dangers of knife crime and doing all you can to prevent it but surely I can’t be the only one that thinks this is, at best, rather stereotyping their target audience?

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. To celebrate this milestone there is an archive box set of 38 discs being released. Now, I know many of us just don’t have the time to relive the entire weekend, so it may be worth searching out a copy of the original album for a spot of nostalgia (maybe on Spotify or Deezer). Richie Havens ‘Freedom’ and the version of ‘Soul Sacrifice’ by Santana, just as they were garnering public attention, are both well worth checking out.

The only wine news of note is that a huge winery dating from the Crusades has been found under a house in Mi’ilya in northern Israel.  Thought to date from the 12th century it has two enormous treading floors for crushing grapes and could be the biggest in the Levant.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll carry on with wines from places you may spend a holiday. This week the white t-shirt will be sported by something a little special, one of our more esoteric wines. Las 30 del Cuadrado 2017 (£20.99). Hailing from Sanlucar de Barrameda, just around the corner from Cádiz on Spain’s southern coast, this is made from Palomino grapes grown on 70 year old vines. Wild fermentation on natural yeasts in old Manzanilla barrels gives this wine a really savoury character.

Meanwhile, the red swimming trunks will be worn by Cambria Benchbreak Pinot Noir 2013 (£27.49) from California’s Santa Maria Valley. It’s one of those really soft Pinot Noir’s that just scream ‘drink me’ from the moment you pour a glass.

That’s probably it from us except to say have fun to those who enquired about holiday drinking in Sardinia, the Marche and Portugal this week.

Cheers!

Dear Out Of Office Reply

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Dear OOOR,

I hope you don’t mind me using your acronym, but I feel we’ve got so close these last few days. I wanted to thank you for returning Barbara, James and Sarah to the fold, but at what cost? How many of our readers have you run off with this week?  

Will you let them know that the transfer window has slammed shut, with Arsenal getting a bargain in David Luiz, Newcastle’s medical team becoming much busier now Andy Carroll has joined and, despite much speculation, Danny Rose will be strutting his stuff on the Tottenham Broadway? Once again, Manchester United led the way as ridiculous amounts of money changed hands for players in the Premiership, whilst teams in the lower divisions are going bust. Do you think it’d make any sense for the lower leagues to get more cash and maybe act as some kind of academy process? Anyway, let them know the Premiership season starts this evening, Liverpool and Norwich first up.

Will you also tell them that the England cricket team have spent the entire week in the nets practicing defensive shots? They were definitely found wanting in the first match of The Ashes.

I suspect they’d be quite interested to hear that despite Conservative members voting for Mr Johnson to be their leader, they seem to have ended up with Mr Cummings instead and we’re sure he’s not even an MP.

India has cancelled the special status of Kashmir and the price of smart winter woollies are expected to rocket. Jokes aside, I’m not sure how ethical blocking all forms of communication are, the cynical part of me might find the government has things they’re trying to hide.

It seems Kermit is in charge of the railways as the UK train companies made complete fools of themselves this week. On Wednesday they announced their decision to pull out of the European wide Interrail scheme. By Thursday they were so happy with the decision that they reversed it. Nice work!

In France, those purveyors of the ‘naturally’ blue wine that we have discussed in the past are now under investigation by the French authorities. It appears that chemists at the University of Toulouse have detected E133 which is the same blue dye used in Blue Curaçao, if found guilty the sentence for putting additives in wine is two years jail and a €375000 fine. You heard it here first!

While I’m chatting with you, did you see that scientists at the University of Glasgow have invented an artificial ‘tongue’ that can detect the differences in whiskies with over 99% of accuracy.  A selection of different whiskies and ages were used in the testing and it could distinguish the different ages, the different barrels and the different distilleries.  When I read stories like this I do wonder about our future, perhaps I just read too many Sci-Fi books as a kid.

Anyway I should think about wrapping this up now, It’s been nice to chat to you OOOR but I really do need to get on.

I’d just mention that the Wine School that starts in October has four places left, so if you’ve been checking the diary don’t dally for too much longer. Full details are attached.

Tastings

Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

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!

Tasting This Weekend

Continuing our tour of holiday destinations, this week we’re visiting the Loire valley for the white. Not far from the city of Nantes is Domaine des Herbauges. We’ll taste their Moulin d’Argent Chardonnay 2018 (£11.99) which is from vines around the lake of Grand-Lieu in Muscadet country. Crisp, dry, and completely done in stainless steel, the wine gets a little lees contact for complexity. We like to think of it as a Chablis replacement, just without the price tag.

We’ve heard Sicily is popular this time of year, so we’ll be making an offer you can’t refuse with Lumari Nero d’Avola/Syrah 2018 (£10.49) a deliciously juicy red that’ll be tasty with all sorts of antipasti!

With that I’m off, thanks for listening! u

Lost & Found

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Dear Out of Office Reply,

We wondered if you might keep this handy in the Inbox for the person that normally sits in front of you.

I’m sure they’ll want to read this when they get back. I know they’ll have missed the delicious tasting at the weekend, but there is a chance that some of the other information will still be pertinent.

If you feel the need to share this email with covering desks please do go ahead, we’re always happy to be seen with new eyes.

News

We’ve been reading the news this week and have discovered that it can be read in many different ways.

The new PM, Boris Johnson has been on a whistle stop tour of the United Kingdom and was greeted by boos wherever he went.” Could also be read as: “Whilst on a surprise visits around the United Kingdom this week, PM Boris Johnson was taken aback when many voters greeted him with a boo. It really made him jump!”

“The Bank of England  had a meeting this week, left interest rates unchanged and predicted that Brexit would give a 1 in 3 chance of a recession. “ reads quite differently to “The Bank of England  had a meeting this week, left interest rates unchanged and predicted that Brexit would give a 2 in 3 chance of no recession.”

News that really shook us though, was the discovery that somebody has stolen Hotel Chocolat’s Chocmobile. In a story reminiscent of the old ice-cream wars of the eighties, the vehicle went missing from their HQ in Royston. We wondered if it might be a “local shop for local people” scenario, till we realised it was the wrong Royston. 

A reward has been offered, consisting of five years subscription to the Chocolate Tasting Club and a visit to the inventing room at the factory. Apparently three males were spotted in the vicinity so we’ve contacted Messrs. Green, Black and Wonka but are yet to hear back from any of them.

So do keep ‘em peeled folks and  if you see an ice cream van with ‘more cocoa less sugar’ on the back Hotel Chocolat would like a word. Or it could just be a cheap publicity stunt.

Also, if anyone sees some breakfast show listeners please do return them to Radio 2, Zoe is missing about 780,000 of them.

Elsewhere, Google has organised a conference in Sicily discuss global warming. It’s known as The Camp, and  the rich and famous have arrived in over 100 private jets and an armada of super yachts. Seems to me that the great and the good could have saved thousands of tonnes of emissions if they’d come in just the one plane, or even more if somebody only had the technology for a conference call. My dad might have described it as: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Whilst on the subject of lunacy, in drinks related news, Los Angeles Zoo is to launch a beer brewed with the help of Charlie the sloth. He helped to choose a couple of extra ingredients for the brew from a range of fruits and flowers, plumping for pears and roses. The beer will be available at ‘Brew at The Zoo’ a music festival this weekend. So if you’re in the neighbourhood we look forward to a slow and considered tasting note.  Sometimes you really can’t make these things up!

Tastings

Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

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  SOLD OUT

Summer Saturdays

As usual for this month, tomorrow and the remaining Saturdays in August we will close at 7pm.

Tasting This Weekend

The white corner will host Flametree Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 – £16.99, a cracking drop made by our chum Cliff Royle – it even won a gold medal at the Royal Sydney Wine show last year.

Sporting the bullfighters cape in the red corner will be Imperio Reserva 2011, Valdepeñas, Spain – £10.99 –  made by Bodegas Navarro Lopez, it is 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 and a smooth satisfying finish – great with some barbecued lamb and with the added incentive that Alex will be passing by in real-time as we taste the wine in London! ed0 Colorful Li