Archive for September, 2020

NOT Hands, Knees and a Boompsydaisy!

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well here we are again another week, another set of rule changes. Here are a set of guidelines you may find useful, or not. In our strategy meetings with Dom we’ve found the doubling dice in backgammon very useful so have used it on the fines. A trip to the naughty step previously charged at £100 is now £200! When we said “Hands, Face, Space” we really didn’t mean “Hands Knees and a Boompsydaisy.”

Because the pub now has to close at 10pm the midweek football games are a bit earlier so that we can still watch the whole game in the pub. It seems that rogue  Covid is usually late to the pub and likes to hang around at the bar. So we are now only allowing table service and closing early in order to outfox the blighter! 

Please do remember to leave your track and trace details, they all go into the shoe box under Matt Hancock’s desk for safe keeping till Dido swings past for a rummage and to make some phone calls. Better still use the app, as the details go straight to a password protected inbox for immediate attention. If only we could find out who set the password, it doesn’t appear to be taped under the keyboard like normal.

Whilst we’re on the subject of normal procedure we’re a bit concerned that many of you haven’t actually been following the rules in quite the spirit we set them.

We’re fairly sure that we made it perfectly clear back in March that you were to work from home.

I know we let the builders go to work once they’d finished all the DIY at home. But how all of the office workers ended up back at the office we’re not sure. It was only a suggestion that maybe some of you might like to have a look at the office for a few days a week but you’ve now gone too far. So please work from home if you can. Not you teachers, we didn’t mean you, you keep going to work.

For track and trace to work properly you have to be where you’re expected, Dom’s spreadsheet is absolutely clear…

Office WorkersHome
BuildersOn site/In the traffic
Wayne & AlexShop/Volvo

We’re certain that’s cleared all that up.

In other news the National Trust has discovered that 93 of the properties it looks after may have skeletons in the closet that are a bit disagreeable. It’s possibly not breaking news but much of the history of the world has disagreeable parts to it.

In Brexit news it turns out that the UK’s first internal border won’t be down the Irish Sea but in Kent, which surprised us as we thought it had a Deal.

On a more serious note, if you find yourselves at home isolating, shielding or just too busy to go out we are still doing the rounds in the Volvo. Email us an order on and we’ll work it from there. We’d ask you buy six bottles is all. If you’re coming to the shop we’re now mandated to wear masks, so for identification purposes Alex will wear a beard under his mask and Wayne won’t.

Monday morning saw us way up north in Camden Town for a tasting, our first since late January. The first thing we noticed was there aren’t many punks or goths around at 10 am on a Monday morning. That aside we tasted some interesting wines by and large, a few new vintages of current listings (one of which will be moving backwards!) There was some new wines too that’ll show up in the future, and some that never will.

There were a couple of wines that are in stock that we got reminded of I think are worth a mention.

Le Veritable Jurancon Sec (£10.99) a lovely light easy going white made from Gros Manseng grown down towards Biarritz. It makes a lovely change from Sauvignon Blanc for that apéritif glass and also got a cracking write up in Decanter in a feature on weekday wine this month.

Cantine Povero Barbera d’Asti ‘Dianae’ 2019 (£14.99) is quite natural with hand-harvesting, minimal intervention in the winery, minimal sulphur too. Fermented in temperature controlled tanks and aged for 6 months in stainless steel.  The result is a velvety red with cherry and raspberry fruit character and medium to full body, just a touch of tannin to keep it tidy and a lovely long fresh finish.

That’s all folks, look after yourselves and for a delivery!

10pm curfew?

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Wayne now being back from his holidays, replete with Galo de Barcelos tattoo and a worrying Sagres habit, can mean only one thing in Park Vintners life – summer holidays are now officially over, the nights are longer and red wine sales emerge from under the boulders that rosé stacked on them over the last six months.  So, actually, plenty to look forward to!

Although, saying that, one thing Wayne did bring back from the Iberian Peninsula, that is less appealing, is the idea of curfew.  Already, there are quite stern restrictions in place in Portugal with regard to sale of alcohol after certain times: no sales after 8pm for shops and supermarkets for example; and in restaurants and bars, alcohol can only be purchased after this time if food has been ordered alongside.  We have already seen localised, 10pm curfews over here – the North East has just been put under the cosh with similar constraints, which feels a bit rotten for Northumberland whose case rate was below the threshold.  Being the 6th largest county but with a population significantly smaller than Bristol, social distancing is the norm here and frankly it sometimes feels that many of the locals don’t need any encouragement to isolate further!

But, and I’m biased here of course as a licence holder, what is the gain of a 10pm curfew as opposed to normal 11pm or midnight closing.  Does Covid become suddenly more virulent at 10.30pm?  Doubtful – if so, we really need to be told.  Is it some sort of attempt to stop people drinking so much and thus losing control of their distancing radar?  Perhaps, although people will just go to the pub earlier or drink faster if they so wish – it’s not so long ago that we had stricter licensing hours and afternoon closing, for example, and people still found ‘a way’.  Will it encourage people to drink and eat more at home and avoid the pub completely?  This is very possible.  If you would normally book a table at a restaurant or between 8.30 and 9pm, which is historically a very popular time, then you are on the clock immediately, the moment you sit down.  ‘Why bother?’, will be many people’s decision.  At which point pubs and restaurants go bust meaning that when we finally escape these infernal times we will have nowhere to celebrate!

I have spent a bit of time reading a the most September issue of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and Alix Partners – a scintillating read, if you want a copy I can send you the link.  Anyway, the simple summary is thus: many more restaurants re-opened in August where previously pubs had been the majority – Eat out to Help out obviously encouraged this; 76.3% of all licensed venues were trading by the end of August, however London is the slowest city to recover, with 28.8% of venues yet to re-open.

And the good news?  Well, there is a genuine likelihood that we will be put under curfew given that Downing Street hasn’t denied the possibility and it looks like half term will be very much at home, so no good news really, sorry.

Blimey, that’s all a bit bleak.  Wayne has now told me that before I get into my rant about martial law and the end of democracy, I need to find something more positive to talk about.

And lots of important stuff has been going on, if you look carefully enough.  A man in Manchester, reclaiming the mad of the late 80’s perhaps, has been booted off the bus for wearing a live snake as a face mask.  Meanwhile, in Australia’s Northern Territory, a humpback whale, clearly looking to start a fight, has found itself in the aptly named East Alligator River – home to many, many Saltwater Crocs.  Most people’s memories of Kakadu are mosquitoes the size of golf balls, so this should be a nice distraction!  Finally, in the real world of football, famously cash-strapped Lionel Messi has won a 9 year battle to make his name a trademark and a famously almost bankrupt 31 year old ex-Tottenham player is perhaps about to be re-signed by his old club for more money than the club captain is earning – Daniel Levy is definitely having a funny five….

The Tour de France grinds on, where grimaces up 18% slopes on Wednesday just went to show that this is not a sport for the faint hearted; then in the evening Eoin Morgan was clearly tippling from the same bottle as Mr Levy when England snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by bowling Rashid rather than Curran in the last over.

For anyone that doesn’t follow cycling or cricket, I imagine that last paragraph might as well have been in Greek!

And so to wine.  Still no new wines to talk about really, although, as mentioned last week, we will be out at a couple of tastings on Monday 21st, so fingers crossed.  On a personal note, I re-discovered my utter delight in the wines of Montalcino last weekend, with a splendid bottle of the lightly oaked Sangiovese proving a fine partner to some sirloin and sausages from the barbecue.

If, like me, you’re keen to reconnect with Tuscan treasures, it would be hard to look past the San Polo Rosso di Montalcino 2017 – £24.99, which comes from a vintage that started cool, was stink hot in August but this heat was then balanced out by rain in early September to help the grapes reach ideal ripeness.  Bright ruby in colour with a nose of Morello cherry and blackberry with just a hint of the light toast of 12 months in oak.  The palate continues this fruit theme with smooth, finely-balanced tannins and a persistent, aromatic finish.  Bistecca alla Fiorentina is the idea match here, but I’m not sure how many of us have a wood fire to cook it over!

Should you wish to up the ante, we do of course have:

Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino 2012 – £53.50

Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2013 – £64.00

…both of which are stunning.

There you go, a little bit of chat about wine and I feel noticeably better and more positive!  It’s Friday afternoon, the sun is out and it looks set fair for the weekend – Wayne, let’s have a cocktail, things could be a whole lot worse!

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!