Archive for September, 2020

Keep your chin up, things could be a lot worse, raise a glass!

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to the watershed weekend to end all watershed weekends!


With a swoosh of his magic wand, Boris answered all our questions this week and made clear the way our lives must be lived for most likely the next six months – which should nicely bring us to the first lockdown anniversary. 

From a business point of view, we now know we won’t be hosting any tastings for a good while hence, that the Christmas party season is already over, and that it’s now all about the dinner party.  However, these dinner parties are going to have to be small affairs, particularly if you’re daft enough to have children who immediately take up part of your quota of 6, even if they are asleep upstairs.  I can already hear the turkey farmers getting in a flap, the Thanksgiving/Christmas season being their one shot at glory but both these occasions rely on numerous mouths to feed – a turkey for four people is a formidable challenge well beyond most of our interest levels.  Equally, for us, the upcoming months are the time that we sell larger volumes of larger format wines: magnums move steadily every week and we can quite happily have a jeroboam of something interesting that will pique someone’s interest but this is less likely to happen now – a jeroboam is four bottles, a bottle a head, a commitment….

However, there might be a silver lining; he might lift the rule of six in time for Christmas and New Year which would be perfect time for us all to hold street parties celebrating his well-crafted Brexit on January 1st.  Or perhaps he needn’t bother.

The Police

On a more serious note, there is the worrying final sentence in the outline of changes that was published on Wednesday:

The government will restrict the opening hours of premises, initially in local lockdown areas, with the option of national action in the future.

Couple this with the use of Covid Marshalls and I really do feel that the whole nation is sliding into a realm a trifle less democratic than we all signed up for.


Living in the present, we can still see our friends this weekend and by all accounts many of you are planning to go the full 1999. It will be dry and mild tomorrow and then Sunday should be a scorcher – couple this with the fact that this is the last weekend of the American Express Shop Small offer and really, what are we all waiting for.  I’ve got Rosé  ready to roll, I’ve got beer, I’ve got Champagne, I’ve even got ice – let’s do it!

Neil Young

So what’s going on in the world outside Covid?  Well, in wine, not a great deal.  It’s Harvest time, or approaching it at least, for much of Europe, so we’re not hearing much from there.  In spite of the restriction on us running private tastings, we are still allowed to go to trade tastings because they come under the umbrella of work so on Monday 21st September we will be scuttling into town to visit two different venues.  It will be great to be out as much to stretch our legs as to try some new things and finally be able to answer the question ‘got any new wines in?’ with a yes rather than a rather flat no.  Can’t wait.


Whilst Wayne has been eating Mersea oysters and drinking too much stout, I’ve re-listed a Belgian beer that we haven’t had for over a year.  Thanks to his historic love of all things from Belgium, about 10 years ago he introduced me to the Lambic beer, Gueuze.  Many of you won’t know what I’m talking about, so here’s a quick York note.  Gueuze is a blend of younger (not fully fermented) and older (2 and 3 year old) Lambic beers, which is then bottled for a second fermentation.  Lambic beers differ from other beers because they are fermented by exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria in the brewery rather than cultivated brewer’s yeast.  Swerving away from deeper science, what do they taste like?  Dry, cider-like, vinous, with a tangy, tart aftertaste – bloomin’ delicious if you ask me!

I’ve bought some mini bottles, so if you fancy trying something that might re-calibrate your beer drinking, this could be for you.

Lindemans Gueuze 25cl – £2.00

The Doors

That’s it from us for this week.  Enjoy the sunshine, keep your chin up, things could be a lot worse, raise a glass!

The End.

We’re living out our dreams here!

Friday, September 4th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

167 days.  Over 45% of the year.  More than 5 months and we really hadn’t missed it.  As we went to bed on Wednesday night we knew life was about to change, yet again.  For so long we hadn’t had to worry about what went on before 7am, in truth on many an occasion it remained a mystery what happened before 8 but now was crunch time.  School was going back in and the teenager with the sharp haircut and new schoolbag had set his alarm for 6am….

When we awoke on Thursday we were all still unaware of what happens before 7am because the ‘bloomin’ alarm hadn’t gone off’ (amazing how a digital clock can make such a unilateral decision in the middle of the night but then, as mentioned, what happens before 7am stays before 7am) and with that we were thrust back into the routine.  A rush to JJ’s for milk that could so easily have been bought the day before, the new game of hunt the facemask and the hurried sprint to Earlsfield all welcoming one 16 year old and his parents back with loving arms.  Meanwhile, in another bedroom another teenager slept on none the wiser because she wasn’t going back to school until tomorrow, ha!

So, we’re back and it feels like almost immediately there is more to write about.  The sheer thrill of the start of a new school year has never before had so much potency and dare I say it, optimism that we can see a shadow of our old lives returning, giving hope that they could take on corporeal characteristics at some point.  Many people mock and deride routine, citing freedom of spirit and living for the day as realistic mantras and there is certainly something to be said for this, however after the last 5 months of discombobulation and aimlessness it’s comforting to get some old habits back.

And we’re working on our old routines.  As discussed last week, we have relaunched our monthly case club that got back-burnered in April.  We’ve also started to have people asking if/when/how we will start doing tastings again.  This is a trifle more tricky but is definitely something we have been thinking about and I think we’re going to take advice on it; on Monday 21st September we are going to our first supplier tasting for a long time, a tasting held by the buying group that we are a part of and whose members are all independent wine merchants like ourselves.  We will see how the tasting runs, we will brain-pick our peers and, hopefully, we will come back suitably enlivened (it is a tasting after all) and full of ideas on how we can proceed here.  Give us a few weeks and we’d like to think we’ll have a plan!

We read, with interest of course, the daily discourse on Covid-19.  With the proposal that a variety of gastrointestinal upsets in children could be signs of the virus we immediately had questions.  Our first caller asked: As children are the same species as adults, is there not a possibility that similar upsets in adults could have similar significance?  At the same time, could it not also just be something we ate?  The next question, from our reader in Essex, goes thus: the list of potential signs of Covid is growing – as the list grows the likelihood is that more of the population will display or have displayed at least one of the symptoms in the last 8 months – does this mean more of us have, potentially, already carried the virus?  Or, again, was it just something we ate?

Perhaps many more of us have had, and subsequently shaken off, this thing than any records may show – which could be a positive as we move away from summer?

Meanwhile, the USA has hopes of releasing a vaccine on its population two days before the Presidential election – what could possibly go wrong?  More locally, Wales and Scotland have gone out on their own and made travellers returning from Portugal quarantine for 14 days.  In  certifiable absence of joined up thinking, England isn’t making holidaymakers from Portugal hide at home at all… so you could fly back into Bristol and if you live in Bristol you could go back to work in Cardiff on Monday morning but if you fly into Bristol and live in Cardiff you have to quarantine… mind boggling!

In the drinks world we return once more to our occasional foray into drinks we’re not sure we need/celebrity bandwagon jumping.  Everybody’s favourite Just Eat ambassador, Snoop Dogg has launched Indoggo, a strawberry gin that ‘goes lighter on the juniper and dials up the strawberry and citrus flavours with its sweet and fruity finish’ – so a gin that really doesn’t taste of gin… mind you at $30 a bottle, you will actually be far closer than some in getting what you paid for. 

Meanwhile, over in Italy the Delevingne sisters (Cara, Chloe & Poppy) have been busy watching other people picking grapes from 40 year old Glera vines to provide the market with not one but two new Prosecco’s.  Hooray for them.

And that, I believe, is that.  I’m off to watch the Tour de France without any of Wayne’s commentary whilst Wayne is off to drink white port and eat sardines – we’re living out our dreams here!