Archive for January, 2021

All Change For Bordeaux

Friday, January 29th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

In a break from tradition, we’d like to talk to you about wine today. In France this week the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) formally approved the use of six new varieties in Bordeaux.

‘Oh, how exciting!’ I hear you cry.

Well, I have to say we’re somewhere between excited, miffed, confused, disappointed and outraged. Before I explain our many positions on the subject, I should probably tell you what’s going on: farmers who produce Bordeaux AOC or Bordeaux Superior AOC are now allowed to plant some different grape varieties.

On the red front we’ve got Arinarnoa, a cross of Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon developed in Bordeaux in 1956; Castets, a long forgotten Bordeaux grape, ‘almost extinct’ is all I can find out, though I guess that might change!; Marselan, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache grown in the southwest and often blended with Tannat down there; and Touriga Nacional, a grape we all know and love from Portugal, more specifically in the wines from the Douro.

On the white front we’re welcoming Alvarinho, another Portugeezer also very popular in these parts in its Spanish version Albariño and Liliorila (shrug emoji) which is apparently a cross between Chardonnay and Baroque.

We’re excited because all new developments in wine excite us initially and it’s nice to see people thinking ahead to mitigate the effects of climate change, hydric stress and different ripening horizons. 

We’re miffed that Petit Manseng having made the final 7 just didn’t make the cut, we’re a little fond of it. The grape variety is one  we all know and love from Jurançon just a bit further south down near Biarritz.

We’re confused because for years and years we’ve been told that Bordeaux is the centre of fine wine and all the best grape varieties for the soils are already planted. Is that no longer the case? Do we now begin a long slippery slope into mediocrity, albeit the mediocrity of having twenty different grape varieties you can grow? Will our fears of thin, unripe Touriga Nacional and fat, overripe Alvarino be unfounded? We’ll see but at the moment you’re only allowed a maximum of 5% of your vineyard area and 10% of the final blend to be made from these ‘new’ varieties.

Disappointingly there are no changes to labelling regulations, so you won’t be able to tell before the cork is pulled what you’re drinking. But if it’s Pessac Leognan, Pauillac or one of the other named appellations, it’ll still be unchanged, for the moment. Let’s hope they keep the varieties unblended to start with so that we can see how they turnout.

Our outrage actually has nothing to do with this story but more to do with the the fact that so little has been made of the fact that red wine may actually be a good sports drink! An article in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition explored the possibility of supplementing Grape Polyphenols to mitigate exercise-induced physiological stress. Red grapes contain high levels of these antioxidant polyphenols that, the article states, seem to have a positive effect against oxidative stress. Surely it’s only a short leap to say that glass of red is good for you?

In other news this week, the PM has gone to Scotland, ostensibly to wind up Nicola Sturgeon we think but shopping for a new fridge and an eye test have not been ruled out. BooHoo have splashed out £55 million on Debenhams name and website, we still think it’ll end in tears.

With that we’ll bid you adieu, we’re here if you need us and you can email us if you need a delivery – February starts on Monday which means this is the last weekend of ‘6 for 5’ – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

James Bond Still MIA!

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I must confess, I watched the Don and the Melan leave the White House inside Marine One with mixed emotions and also a little bit of trepidation.  In the soap opera that has been the Trump Presidency it would not have surprised me at all if the helicopter had been eaten by Godzilla, attacked by aliens or, in a throwback to the famous scene from Dallas, we all woke up to discover that the last four years had just been a terrible dream and Democracy was having a shower before carrying as if nothing had happened!

However, not only have we lost everyone’s favourite President but more significantly we have lost the blog gift that has kept on giving.  There have been many weeks that we have sat at the keyboard here, bereft of inspiration and muse-less, unable to find the words to kick off the weekly whiffle until we have looked at the news from across the pond and DT has careered in to save the day with his outrageous behaviour and extraordinary statements.

I never, ever expected to say this but Donald, The Donald, we’ll miss you and your soundbites so much!

“The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.”

Speech Responding To Assault Accusations. October 13, 2016.

But we wipe the tear from our eyes and we move on.  However it’s not long before we reach for the Kleenex once more, as we read of two cult West Country festivals already cancelled for the second year on the trot; the little known Glastonbury Festival has shown the white flag as has the world renowned Dorset Knob Throwing and Frome Valley Food Festival – who will be next?

And here’s the answer:

“Good evening Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you. Stay where you are!” – sorry Stromberg, you’ll have to wait a bit longer – No Time to Die will now not arrive until October….

Meanwhile back in the world of wine it was heartening to read that, in spite of all the restrictions we underwent in the latter part of last year, UK Champagne consumption was greater in 2020 than in 2019, with the most significant uplift being in December where people clearly treated themselves to the proper stuff, and on more occasions – that’s the spirit!  Obviously this was detrimental to Prosecco sales but frankly, they’ve had it their own way for too long!

And now we’re almost at the end of January which brings our annual foray into Witchetty Grubs and Haggis.

Tuesday 26th is Australia Day.  If you’ve manged to procure your Moreton Bay Bugs, your King Island Brie, a meat pie and of course some of the aforementioned grubs, we recommend you treat yourself to a bottle of Geoff Merrill Reserve Shiraz 2011 – £29.99 – come on, it doesn’t get much more Aussie than a McLaren Vale Shiraz.

However, before we go down under we need to go up North because we’ve got Whisky to drink.  Monday 25th is Burns Night and, frankly, I like an excuse to have a dram on Monday and this week Rabbie has delivered!

Our Whisky selection is as follows:


Ardmore 1998 – £70.00

Tomatin 12 Year Old – £41.75


Bunnahabhain 11 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00

Caol Ila 13 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00

Finlaggan Old Reserve – £36.00


Benromach 10 Year Old – £40.00

Benromach 15 Year Old – £60.00

Benromach Sassicaia Wood Finish 2011 – £50.00

Strathmill 2002 – Connoisseurs Choice – £50.00

Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old – £61.00

The Glenrothes Whisky Makers Cut – £54.00

Longmorn 2005 – Distillers Label – £70.00


Mary Queen of Scots 12 Year Old – £35.00

Plenty of choice there we think!

That’s about it from us and, as we move into the last week of January and consequently the last week of our ‘6 for 5’ offer, so don’t be backward in coming forwards.

It’s the weekend, Trump’s gone and we clearly have been enjoying our Champagne of late, so let’s all raise a glass to absent friends…

Wine in Space

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we’ll open with our first sports shocker of the year. A racing pigeon that went missing from a race in Oregon on 29th October has been found alive and well in Melbourne. The bird was discovered on Boxing Day looking a bit peckish after taking the long way home to the tune of 13000km. Experts think the bird has been practicing cargo boat doping, but like the cyclists who caught trains in the early days of the Tour de France, there is no evidence of that! Let’s hope he gets quarantined rather than culled, you know what Aussie import rules are like!

Whilst we’re on the subject of travelling, it seems the BBC and the Evening Standard have been trying really hard all week to make a story out of the Prime Minister being 7 miles away from home on his bike. Think what you like about Boris, but why spend so much time on such a non-story when there is so much that could be held up for scrutiny,  are we being naïve in hoping for better? As anyone who has ridden a bike can tell you, seven miles is no distance.

Still on the subject of journeys, we were sent an article this week from one of our long-time readers Matt. Like many of us he has been leafing his way through a series of Travel magazines and articles with a wishful (hopeful?) eye. He shared one of the more entertaining stories which tells of twelve bottles of Bordeaux sent up to the International Space Station. Not to cheer up the astronauts Vesta Beef you understand, but just for a spot of weightlessness whilst ageing. With them went around three hundred Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vine snippets that also spent a year of weightlessness orbiting the earth.

Space Cargo Unlimited claim understanding how grapes respond to weightlessness, scientists could help develop technology to grow more resilient plants on Earth. Now I’m no gardener, let alone horticultural expert, but how will that happen? They were in protective packaging, a rocket and a space station, how is that different to greenhouse? ‘Vines in Space’ rather than ‘Pigs In Space’ but possibly still Muppetry.

All my cynicism aside, it’d be quite interesting to taste the difference of a space aged bottle to a Chateau cellar aged bottle so we’ll look out for notes when they are tasted by a selection of sommeliers in February.

If you want to read more about Space Cargo Unlimited have a look here: Red wine in space to feed the blue planet! – SPACE CARGO UNLIMITED ( .

On to the last piece on travelling, it’s tormenting me as much to write about it as it is for you to read it believe me.

Lorry drivers arriving in the Hook of Holland were a bit surprised to discover they were getting their sandwiches with chicken or ham and cheese confiscated. It seems they fell foul of new regulations governing the movement of meat and dairy arriving in the EU from the UK. We suggest tuna, prawn or fish-finger sandwiches as the way to go for the future as they are permitted. We’ve had no news yet if the same rigor has been applied to the EasyJet toasty!

Otherwise our January sale continues as mentioned last week with six bottles for the price of five on most wines.

If you’d like a delivery we can put a box in the Volvo for you and bring it to the door, just drop us a line at with your requirements and we’ll swing into action.

Obviously we’re essential and open, if you’re out on a stroll.

Mon-Wed: 3-7pm (though we’re around from midday so do give us a knock!)

Thurs-Sat: Noon – 7pm

Sunday: Still Closed

That’s it from us, stay safe, lookout for each other and have a chat with someone you haven’t spoken to lately.

2021 Day 8

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Happy New Lockdown Everybody!!

Don’t you always love the third instalment?  Rambo III?  Amusingly beaten to top spot on its opening weekend by Crocodile Dundee II.  Three Men & A Bride?  Thankfully, never been made.  The failed comedy that was Superman III?  Shrek the Third?  Spider-Man 3?  Police Academy 3 (RIP Officer Laverne Hooks)?  

This list could go on forever but I hope you get the gist.  You went to the first instalment, happy to go with the flow and frankly, once you were there, it wasn’t too bad.  You endured the second, shorter episode because the first one had been quite successful and you had high hopes of similar success for the follow up.  By the time you get to the third in the trilogy though you show up at the cinema, underwhelmed and disappointed before you’ve even started whilst in your head you are praying, ‘if I can endure this then hopefully they’ll never make a fourth!’ .

So here we are at the start of the third of the Lockdown series.  No matter how tiresome and long winded it may end up being we all need to sit tight in our popcorn crumbed seats right until the last credit has rolled by and the lights have come up before we give it green splat on Rotten Tomatoes: we really, really, really don’t want to see Lockdown IV: Summer is Cancelled….

But enough of the negatives, let’s look at this in a brighter light.  It’s blinking cold outside, it  gets dark at 4pm having only got light just after 8am which means, if nothing else, that the sun is over the yard arm by late morning, which can only be a good thing if you’re home schooling.

And why would you want to go out/get dressed every day/take your Ugg boots off/see anyone at this most inhospitable time of year?  Sure, it would be nice but it will be so much warmer doing it in April. 

In the meantime, the, hopefully, good news is that we are OPEN.  As with every (!) lockdown thus far, we are considered essential and it’s not just because we are next door to a Pharmacist.  We will be keeping slightly shorter hours than in normal times though – largely related to the fact that 90% of you aren’t commuting so rush hour is not currently a thing and Arthur Road gets very lonely as the evening goes on.  Our current hours are:

Monday to Wednesday: 3pm – 7pm

Thursday to Saturday: 12pm – 7pm

Sunday: Closed

We know a number of you like to come to the shop and have a browse but for those of you who don’t want to go out/get dressed every day/take your Ugg boots off/see anyone at this most inhospitable time of year then we will be de-icing the Volvo and letting Swedish Engineering prove itself in in the harshest conditions in order to deliver boxes of loveliness to your doorsteps.  By ‘boxes of loveliness’ we do of course mean boxes of wine to avoid any awkwardness and we do ask that you order a minimum of 6 bottles for free local delivery.

If this sounds appealing, simply send an email to outlining what you might like and we can make some suggestions – the more you tell us, the more we can fine tune our selections.

Finally, for those of you doing dry January, we salute you.  We think you’re barmy, I think a lot of you think you’re barmy too but nonetheless we salute your resolve – buona fortuna and now please look away, this next bit is not for you…

Did I mention the lack of quality in repetitive film franchises earlier?  Thankfully the same is not true in wine as we welcome the 10th instalment of the Park VintnersBuy six bottles and you’ll only pay for five of them’ January deal.

In maths terms that’s a whopping 16.66% discount that will hopefully make lockdown life a little more bearable.  As usual, we’ll be excluding spirits and posh champagnes from this offer but otherwise it’s pretty much open season and we’ve attached a list of current stock – fill yer boots, as the man said!

And with that I’m done for today.  We live in dark times but there is sunshine on the horizon and right now I’m taking solace from the fact I don’t live in America…

Stay warm!