Archive for August, 2020

Raise a glass to Boris if you see him sprint past…

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Now, we’re not necessarily Boris’s number one fans but we did feel for him when the media snark yesterday turned to his health.  We would all hope, having been hospitalised with a life threatening illness and subsequently being told some quite scary lifestyle home truths, that the move to appoint a personal trainer to help you get into shape would remain, you know, personal.  It’s not news; in amongst all the things he’s ‘achieved’ in the last 6 months or so, this should be the lowest on the trolling list – however that’s not how news works these days…

From the world of heavy weight prize fighting, we hear that the current belt holder, 74 year old Donny T, has been trash-talking his next opponent, 77 year old Joey B, suggesting that he’s been taking performance enhancing drugs and that they should both take a drug test!  History shows that he did the same with Hillary C in 2016, which she ignored, but nonetheless it looks like he’s going to use the same playbook for this fight, which might be an interesting sign of what is to come.

But what performance enhancing drugs are septuagenarian millionaires interested in, we wonder?  Taking our minds out of the gutter, we discover that Donny confesses to a ‘one aspirin per day’ habit whilst Joe has yet to comment.  Considering both their ages and, dare I say it, the well documented high level of legal prescription drug use in the USA, I certainly doubt that one aspirin is the end of the story but I’m not sure it ends in a meth lab either.

As a side note, Donald Trump is already the oldest President of the USA to take office and Ronald Reagan was 77 years old when he left the Oval office whilst Boris Johnson is  55 years and a bit.

Stung by all the criticism we received last week for failing to talk about wine in a weekly missive that misleadingly calls itself ‘The Weekly Wine’, the word from on high was that we need to concentrate a bit more on vinous matters rather than, say, the Tour de France.

Well, where to start.  I imagine the deluges we have had over the last few days will perhaps dilute some of the fruit for this year’s vintage in the UK unless we get some decent sunshine again over the next few weeks.  Equally, depending on how the canopy management has been, and I imagine most vineyards might have kept a bit of leaf on to protect the grapes in the recent hot weeks, then there is a risk, again rain resultant, that the leaves might have provided insufficient protection to the ripening fruit beneath and we could see lots of lovely grapes lying in the mud, beyond hope of vinification.

Still sure you want us to talk about wine?

With the much anticipated return of the schools next week and with that a small sense of routine returning to perhaps a handful of local households we thought we too would return to a bit of normality with the re-launch of our monthly case club.  To those of you as yet unaware of this, for the past 8 years or so we have been putting together two cases a month, one containing 6 bottles for £60 and the other with 6 bottles for £100.  These cases attract a better discount than what would usually be offered in the shop plus they contain wines that we enjoy, the occasional bought in bin-end, often some esoteric stuff that we think people should be trying and of course some old favourites.  We call it, rather cleverly we thought all those years back, The Park Vintners Wine Club.

I’ve attached the tasting notes for the September case (or at the very least, I intend to attach them), have a look and see what you think.  In a nutshell:

  • The club is completely free of obligation – you let us know that you are interested in it and give us your email address. 
  • Then at the start of each month we email you with the month’s selections, at which point you say ‘yes, please’ or ‘no, thank you’.
  • If you say ‘yes, please’ we the arrange a suitable delivery time and payment
  • If you say ‘no, thanks’ we then leave you in peace until the following month
  • And so it goes on

We have a number of customers who have been taking this on a monthly basis from day one, some who dip in on a quarterly basis and others who use it purely as a simple Christmas gift solver – and buy 6 cases!  There are no rules, no red tape, just red wine and of course white!

So, if any of this holds any appeal, even if you only end up trying it once, just drop us a line and we can go from there.

Otherwise, there really is no other wine news to report on.  Nothing.  Big companies are trying not to go bust;  wine producers in red zones in France (Bordeaux, chunks of Languedoc & Roussillon, the lower end of the Rhone for example) are scratching their heads a bit with harvest time approaching, wondering whether their pickers will be allowed to turn up and hoping that all the possible lockdown rules won’t be implemented; Rosé wine sales still increase exponentially, although we only sold two bottles yesterday but I imagine a bank holiday weekend will make up for that blip.

And that’s it, really.  It really is a bank holiday weekend, when we wake up on Tuesday it will be September and the end of summer so, carpe diem, go and eat street food at Street Eats in Wimbledon Park, and then on Monday eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a local hostelry involved in EOTHO.

Oh, and raise a glass to Boris if you see him sprint past…

But It Doesn’t Look Good Does It?

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’ve had this page open for several hours now and despite almost continually giving it the thousand yard stare, the paper has stayed resolutely blank the entire time. I have had some lovely customers to serve, we’ve shot the breeze about how nice it turned out today and the natural boost to rosé sales, but nobody has given me that snappy opener for this week’s email.

We’ll crack on though, shall we?

In the USA, it would appear that former Trump consigliere, Steve Bannon, has been indicted for defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the “We Build The Wall” campaign, under the false pretence that all the money would be used for construction (I wonder if he knows anyone in construction?).  It seems that at least a million dollars went straight into Mr Bannon’s pocket for personal expenses. What we particularly liked was that he was taken into custody by agents of the US Postal Service.

Whilst we’re on this subject, it would appear that a company with longstanding links to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings has been working behind the scenes with Ofqual, the agency overseeing the exam debacle. Now, we’re clearly not suggesting there is anything underhand, shady or dishonest going on, but it doesn’t look good does it? Incidentally, the company is called Public First, which rather tickled the funny bone too!

In other unrelated news, former Chancellor Sajid Javid has got a job at JP Morgan. How that works I don’t understand, I thought us taxpayers were employing him as MP for Bromsgrove. We’re absolutely sure he’ll have his Chinese walls to guard against revealing internal government policy and privileged information. But it doesn’t look good does it?

In possibly rather niche music news, Cabaret Voltaire are releasing their first studio album in 26 years. Shadow of Fear comes out on November 20th and if you’re quick you may be able to order a Limited Edition Double on purple vinyl!

We don’t talk much of County Cricket here, but I’d just like to mention that Essex have a 100% record in the Bob Willis Trophy having won three from three. On the International front, we’re batting first in the third test.

In other sports news, transfers have been happening all over the shop, lots of big numbers thrown around as usual. The one we both found a bit puzzling is Joe Hart ending up at Tottenham, how’s he going to get a game whilst Lloris is there? We shall have to watch and see I guess, but it’s definitely a puzzlement!

Team Ineos have left out Froome and Thomas from the Tour de France squad. Froome is no surprise given his fitness levels after last year’s awful accident, frankly I find it incredible he’s come this far. Geraint is aiming for the Giro which gives him a bit more time to get his fitness up, but I was slightly surprised on that one. Dave Brailsford is proving once again there’s no room for sentiment and that he’s paid the big bucks to get wins not mates! Personally, I’m not sure the race is going to make it all the way to Paris, but that should make the first week even more exciting. It all kicks off in Nice on Saturday 29th August.

I think that’ll be us for this week, have a great weekend everyone and drop by if you’re about, or email us an order if you’d like us to come to you – especially if you’re under the big Q!

Wine, Dinosaurs and White Port

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As A-level students received their results yesterday we found ourselves pondering, and not for the first time, on what an odd year 2020 has turned out to be. Gavin Williamson’s comments that “Increasing the A-level grades will mean a whole generation could end up promoted beyond their abilities” had us stitching our sides back up and calling Alanis Morissette for a comment. It would appear she’s off on holiday somewhere like many of you.

We might have tried another tack… “Minister, how does a student with mock results of A, A, and A, with assessments from the school of A*, A, and A* end up with grades of B, B and C?” All of a sudden you have to quarantine if you’ve travelled through France and the A-levels are off the front page. Cynical, sickening or the modern way – you choose.

Alex has been on holiday this week, out and about strolling moors with the family, possibly a game of swing ball or two, before counting real sheep in time for bed. Meanwhile I’ve been having an almost Greek sojourn here in Wimbledon Park. We’ve certainly had the weather; I’ve had Greek salad for lunch, listened to the rumble of thunder for an hour or so yesterday whilst the streets of Twickenham and Hammersmith got positively jet-washed by Mother Nature. The way it’s going I might even have to find some Ouzo to go with my fish & chips tonight!

In the Isle of Wight they do appear to have discovered a new dinosaur. Bones were found near Shanklin that are the vertebrae of an as yet undiscovered genus of dinosaur. The palaeontologists from Southampton University were understandably excited: “You don’t usually find dinosaurs in the deposits at Shanklin, you’re much more likely to find fossil oysters or driftwood, so this is a rare find indeed. It is likely the Vectaerovenator lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby.” Seems to me that the Isle of Wight really is the original Jurassic Park!

In US news we learn that Trumpolina ducked the difficult question: “Mr President, after three and a half years, do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done to the American people?” Aside from that, he’s just not happy with his wash. It appears he will compel the water companies to act because he’s not getting enough water pressure in his shower, and he needs his hair to be ‘perfect’. There is obviously nothing else of note happening in the US whatsoever, we did warn you about news in August!

But at least we do have some sport to talk about. Not only did England surprise us all in the first test with a successful run chase, but when rain stopped play yesterday Pakistan were 126-5, even with the obligatory dropped catches from England. Looks like rain may play a big part in it though, with the storms looking set to continue.

Talking of storms, the Critérium du Dauphiné was hit by a hailstorm yesterday with golf ball sized ice lumps raining down on the peloton right at the finish. The riders were desperately trying to stay upright, some walked, and one even took cover under a tent just 500m from the finish. Primo Roglic won the stage though, and looks to be in really decent form.  Typically this race is where everyone tests out their legs before the Tour de France, and this year is no different, just later. UK Cycling Expert on twitter suggests the race is named because we get to see who is climbing like a sack of potatoes!

In our occasional series of summer holiday drinking at home we thought this week we’d mention Kopke White Port (£15.99). It’s a golden colour in the glass with notes of apricot, honey and spices. The palate starts off with a sweet attack but moves onto a citrus laden dry finish. We’d suggest serving it as a long drink over ice with either tonic or ginger beer as a real summer refresher.

Otherwise if you’d like a delivery drop us a line as usual, or do swing by to see us in the shop!


Only in August

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘“Well, right here, the United States is lowest in numerous categories.  We’re lower than the world.  Lower than Europe.’  – oh Donald, that’s true in oh so many ways!  It was only Monday but we already had the quote of the week in the bag – it was as if our friend in the White House didn’t quite have a full grasp of the figures in front of him.  However one would always hope that the even simplest of souls could work out that any US total would always be less than the overall world total.

If none of the paragraph above makes any sense to you, cut and paste the italicised quote into your favourite search engine, sit back and enjoy!

Anyway, enough about the activities across the pond, what’s news over here?  Having spent last week barbecuing fish and dipping tentative toes into the English Channel whilst pretending some days that I could quite easily be in Spain it was back to reality on Monday.  Spending any time away from London for the first time this year was a joy and indeed it was very easy to imagine that nothing was wrong in the world when the days consisted of walking the dog, surfing (for some), eating local treats and perhaps the odd glass of wine.  A not-so-quick pit-stop at Fleet services on the way back up quickly burst any bucolic bubble and so I was well prepared for London when it arrived.

It is, however, now August and, as we all know, even in a good year it becomes silly season in the news media as real news dries up and people slope of on hols.  So, in a year that has been so dominated by just one news story, I imagine the hacks who weren’t quite quick enough to get their summer holidays in the diary have been sitting at their desks with their hair in clumps – which leads us to an occasional feature called, ‘Only in August: headlines that shouldn’t be…’

(In fairness, they are booze related and all from The Drinks Business pages but that doesn’t make them any less ‘true’!)

Ice cream containing spirits now legal in New York state

Well thank goodness for that.  The good people of New York needed some good news after the torrid months they have had and frankly what could be better than knowing your rum ‘n’ raisin might actually have real, cheap, cooking rum in it, up to a max of 5% – I know, if only we could buy it here…

Keeping with the spirit of additives in, er, spirits:

Spirit flavoured with silkworm poo released in Japan

Eager not to be outdone by the Americans it would seem, this is from The Mitosaya Botanical Distillery.  The silkworm droppings have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine since ancient times and are believed to improve blood flow and relief pain in joints and the abdomen.  Whether this is still true when distilled to 42% we can’t say but we do have our opinion…

Fortnum & Mason has struck a deal with Tyneside’s only urban winery, Laneberg, to produce its first own-label English still white wine.

I really want to be positive about this but I’m still not sure that this is what we’ve been waiting for.  The grapes for the wine come from Poulton Hill Estate in the Cotswolds and are then transported 270 miles to Gateshead to be vinified, which immediately feels like an unnecessary journey to me but anyway.  It’s not a gimmick, the wine was blind tasted and chosen without prejudice but I still can’t quite get my head around the purpose of urban wineries.  I am, of course, a dinosaur still immersed in the dying realm of high street retail, what do I know …

And finally, the one that made me feel warm inside for some reason:

Japanese train station to release first wine

Platforms 3 & 4 at Shiojiri train station have been home to vine laden pergolas since the late 1980’s, planted as a welcome to visitors, for this is a gateway to Japan’s wine country.  They’d never made wine from the grapes before but decided to make 100 bottles to celebrate 60th anniversary of Shiojiri’s elevation to city status.  As I said, it’s just a nice story that leaves a warm feeling….

Outside of wine and west country holidays we welcome Fulham back up to the Premiership, Arsenal win the FA cup to go into the Europa League Group stages, relegating Tottenham to the Europa League qualifiers (HA!), Chris Froome looks like he’s moving closer to retirement whether he likes it or not and the cricket is collapsing. 

Potentially the biggest disappointment of the week is the fact that Brazilian winger, Everton is likely to choose Benfica as his new home, rather than the blue surroundings of Goodison Park.

And finally, a warning to Wayne, for when he goes a-travelling to Belgium with his wife.

Man thrown out of Belgian IKEA for secretly shopping with wife

IKEA currently only allows one customer per household, in line with the current Belgian government rules – this gentleman however flouted them and will now become the butt of many jokes around Ghent and beyond.  The moral of this story, never get caught in IKEA, full stop!

That’s all from us for now, it’s hotting up, rosé is chilling down and we’re ready to help you enjoy the sunshine – we’re here until 7pm today and until 6pm tomorrow – come and say hello!