Archive for March, 2021

Spring Loopholes and Rose

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, it’s been a busy week since the Stanley Johnson Loophole was revealed… 

Wayne has organised to go and look at a yacht in Cap d’Antibes (with a view to ‘buying’) and also a villa in Mallorca (again, with a view to ‘buying’) whilst Alex has elected to pop down and paint his mum’s old flat in Andalucia.  We can do such things for a couple of weeks because, you know, it’s not  a £5,000 fine-worthy ‘holiday’ we’re taking but actually a necessary trip to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.  If either of us should happen to accidentally end up in a bar or a restaurant or on a sunbed by a pool then that is entirely circumstantial and should not be considered to be ‘holidaying’.

Glad we made that clear, I’m sure the loophole won’t get abused.

In the world of health, a world that we have all become a little bit too invested in over the last 12 months, an unlikely hero was made of the common cold this week.  The presence of rhinovirus, as the common cold is commonly known to his friends, apparently blocks SARS-CoV-2 from replicating in the respiratory tract.  So, effectively, in the viral version of rock, paper, scissors the Rhino beats the Crown every time.  This could only be improved by the evolution of a benign-to-humans saltwatercrocodilevirus that would frankly wipe the floor with all comers…

In the world of weather, a world that we English have always been too overly invested in, today will be peppered with heavy rain and moderate breezes.  I mention this purely because we would like to take full responsibility for any inclement weather that occurs in the next few days.  We take this responsibility based on the fact that Wednesday morning saw the arrival of our first big tranche of rosé – a handsome half pallet of Les Vignobles de Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020 is now resident in the shop and the cellar, awaiting the arrival of the rule of six, sunny outdoor drinking and sensible socialising that we should all be able to start next week.  We’re ready for this, are you?

Les Vignobles de Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020

£13.99/bottle – 6 bottles for £72

In the world of passports, a world that we haven’t invested any time in over the last 12 months, the talk of the town is Boris’s ‘paper for a pint’ proposal.  ‘Let the landlord decide whether to serve you’ the blonde buffoon bellowed and we all thought to ourselves, well hasn’t that always been the case?  The hospitality industry has been on the naughty step for much of this pandemic and now BJ wants to put further controls on who they do or don’t serve by suggesting the introduction of a vaccine passport. 

Really?  A couple of points, if I may, Prime Minister. 

You’ve spent the last year stymying the on-trade and preventing them from making a living, they’re going to serve whoever they want to serve without your say-so and as many people as possible, as often as possible.  Oh, and have you heard, Boris, that the vaccine roll out is effectively suspended for anyone under 50 until at least May but that the pubs should be able to start serving people again on April 12th.  So anyone over 50 can get a pint but all those under 50 can wait in turn – let’s see how the twenty and thirty year olds react to that, shall we?  Let’s not make this into a ‘them and us’ situation, there’s already enough of that with the rampant cronyism of the coronavirus contracts…

And breathe.

Moving on, as it’s time to move on and talk about time.  This time last year we had our doors shut, we were taking email orders and driving round deserted streets delivering delicious drinks.  Oh, and one of us was about to get covid but didn’t know it yet.  It was also the last Friday in March and Wayne reminded us that on Sunday the clocks spring forward an hour, or, hopefully they spring forward 2 months!  How little we knew but time marches on and British Summer Time starts on Sunday, time to enjoy the brighter evenings.

And now I’ll leave you with another paragraph that he wrote that first week of lockdown, which I think still has a resonance:

Of course, I’m fully aware this is not a time to be flippant and I don’t mean to be so.  However, we don’t need to be sad all the time either, that’s really not healthy.  Play the cards you’re dealt whilst you can.  Don’t be silly, stay inside, engage with your family, phone the friends you haven’t spoken to for too long, eat sensibly, get good sleep, read a book, listen to music you wouldn’t usually listen to, stay off social media for a day, then another day, hoover the stairs, grow a mullet, learn how to do a hand stand, practice your putting, learn to speak Arapaho, take stock, make stock, stay busy….

Raise a glass to yourselves this weekend and also, of course, to absent friends…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We suspect that when she accepted the part in the Government production of the Wizard of Oz, Priti was hoping for a shiny pair of red shoes. Sadly for her, the more of the script she reads out at the despatch box the more she realises she is playing the part of The Tin Man. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive role to win given how many candidates could’ve been at the audition! The role of Scarecrow was already cast and there is certainly some confusion as to how he’s in charge of the Emerald City at the beginning of this production rather than the traditional end. We think the producer has Matt Hancock down as Dorothy, he looks like a rabbit in headlights at the lectern and we think inside he’s just wishing he was home. Has anyone seen his shoes? That probably puts Kier Starmer in the role of Lion doesn’t it?

So, not content with giving assaulters of statues potentially a larger sentence than assaulters of women, the Home Office has come up with another ridiculous idea. Following the trashing of their plan to send asylum seekers to empty oil rigs, they have now decided to process the said asylum seekers on an island. At the moment that island is unnamed but Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have ruled themselves out and we’ve tried to contact the Mayor of Canvey but to no avail.

We thought perhaps it could be a reward to the people of the Isle of Wight for their outstanding development work on the Test and Trace App, until we remembered we were stopping overseas development schemes. Last year’s idea of Ascension Island still seems a bit far-fetched, I mean who’s going to pay for the 4000 mile flight? Turkey is another idea they are floating and Priti definitely went to the same people management classes as Erdogan. I would ask you this, as we come out of lockdown with rising unemployment, what sense does it make to offshore jobs? Not to mention the cost of the flights or the contradiction with the Governments declaration of a climate emergency. Perhaps Turkey has been mentioned in a deterrent capacity, but how can we be sure that asylum seekers have even seen Midnight Express? I tell you wine lovers, it’s a mess!

Meanwhile in a firm show of commitment to “Levelling Up” the BBC has pledged to move 400 jobs out of London. Not all of the details are available but it appears Salford will benefit rather than Turkey, and there’s a good chance of a BBC version Coronation Street without adverts! Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham all look to benefit too as the Beeb starts to host more shows outside of London. News that more of the Proms concerts will be hosted outside of London has us puzzled as we thought there was but one Albert Hall. That said, we look forward to the Wizard of Oz going on tour, and understand the Scarecrow already has personal appearance booked in Hartlepool. 

In European news, there has been a lot of hot air about vaccinations, the lack there of and the rights of the EU to impose tariffs till their fridges are full. However, we know that all you’re really interested in is the Milan-San Remo bicycle race on Saturday. This 299km race is the first of the season’s Monuments and only two Brits have won it, Tom Simpson in 1964, and Mark Cavendish in 2009. Cav described it as “the easiest race to finish, but the hardest to win”. This year, the bookies favourite is Mathieu van der Poel and his form thus far makes it difficult to argue, but I do have a nagging feeling about Julien Alaphillipe who out-sprinted both him and Wout van Aert on a stage at Tirenno-Adriatico last week.

Congratulations to Team New Zealand for successfully retaining Auld Mug in the America’s Cup. I don’t know about you but the idea of hanging over the side of one of these 100kmh yachts on skis terrifies me.

Closer to home the Six Nations draws to a close on Saturday too with games at 14.15, 16.45 and 20.00 – looks like I might struggle to fit the cycling in!

Whilst I’m here, I’d like to mention a new beer we listed recently, SlyBeast Lager (£2.80). The Slybeast microbrewery is the brainchild of Lee and Keris from the Pig & Whistle and is based just down the road in Wandsworth, continuing a tradition that has lasted on the site since 1533. The malty and citrus notes make it the perfect tipple for coping with the excitement of back to back Six Nations.

A local beer brewed by South Africans, now that is something I think we can all embrace.

That’ll be enough from us this week, we’re nearly there so wear a mask, have a jab, wash your hands and drink some wine.


Mother’s Day

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As he sat on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport one evening, he knew what was expected of him.  His new employers had committed a huge sum over the next few years – for the benefits of his services. 

But it wasn’t just his skills that made him such a valuable commodity. He and his wife were among the world’s most recognisable faces.

Back home in the UK, they were by far the country’s biggest celebrities.  The Daily Mirror proclaimed that he was on a “one-man mission” to be a “success in a country where others had failed”.  

So expectations were high.  

And, as the couple emerged from the plane at Los Angeles airport, they were swamped by photographers and news crews in a scene more in keeping with red-carpet showbusiness than the arrival of a ….

What do you think, pretty good opening lines?

When Jilly Cooper said she was happy to ghost write his memoirs, Harry couldn’t resist such a tantalising offer.  With an oeuvre containing cleverly named masterpieces including  Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata, Pandora, Wicked!, Jump! and, of course,  Mount!, Jilly’s texts had become must reads for any Etonian growing up south of Tetbury and the thrill of adding Harry! to this list felt AT LAST like an acknowledgement of his success…. funny that he didn’t mention it to Oprah!

Actually, this is an edited excerpt from David and Victoria Beckham: Was America won over?  By Jon Kelly, BBC News Magazine, Washington DC, on 2nd December 2012.  You’ve got to say, there are similarities, a young couple trying to ‘break America’ and achieve similar levels of fame that they have this side of the pond,  although I don’t imagine Harry & Meghan sat on gold thrones on their wedding day!

And people, that’s all we will ever have to say in relation to the Oprah interview.

This Sunday we celebrate the fourth Sunday in Lent or Mothering Sunday as we more commonly know it.   A celebration of the church where you were baptised, including a visit ideally, but also, thanks to the efforts of Anna Maria Jarvis in the early 20th century, a celebration of all Mother’s. 

Anna Maria lived to hate her successful commemoration to Mother’s and as it became more and more commercialised she even tried to have it cancelled.  In 1948 she died disenchanted in a sanatorium, with all her medical bills having been paid for by people from the floral and greeting card industries!

So, with that in mind, anyone want to buy some wine for their Mum?!

As it’s a celebration it really ought to be bubbles we reckon, so why don’t I give you a quick list of Champagne that we have in stock:

Non Vintage

Lété-Vautrain Brut 204 – £30.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut – £36.99

Tarlant Brut Nature – £45.00

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV – £48.00


Delavenne Père et Fils Grand Cru Brut – £45.00


Lété-Vautrain Grand Millesime 2012 – £35.00

Collet Brut 2008 – £50.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale 2008 – £70.00

Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 – £112.00

Billecart Salmon Cuvée Nicolas-Francois 2002 – £150.00    

Or you could buy her some nice soap….

That really rounds off our week, no mention of sport, largely because it’s just too painful to talk about.  Saying that, we welcome the return of one of 2020’s finest super-spreader events next week as the Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday – no tips from us this year which is frankly good news for all of you given our previous form but do be on the lookout for Guinness on discount as there must be an oversupply somewhere, given the amount that is usually consumed… there you go, that’s our sort of tip!

And we leave you with a reminder that, for now, Piers Morgan is not on morning telly – happy days!

Random Ramblings from Wimbledon Park

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Having a look at the papers this week, we’ve discovered that Prince Philip has had a heart operation and that Harry and Meghan have become famous enough to get an interview with Oprah, which has really put the Buckingham Palace press machine’s nose out of joint. We did wonder if there was any connection with Meghan asking for a front page apology from the Daily Fail.

Nicola Sturgeon seems to have broken no laws but faces calls for her resignation, whilst Matt Hancock has been found to have broken the law by the High Court but not resigned. Lord Frost, our new/old man in the Brexit role, has unilaterally extended the grace period for goods arriving into Northern Ireland which the EU seems to think will have the Government breaking international law. I don’t know about you but all this talk of law breaking is an uncomfortable reminder of the marmalade menace recently retired to a golf course. Incidentally, we noticed he chose to stand at a lectern and say words to an audience this week too.

Anyway, as we progressed through the newspapers we came to one of them, printed on salmon pink paper, that seems to think we’ve had some kind of budget. We looked into it and it seems to be a trustworthy publication as there has indeed been a budget.  

Naturally, it all started with a photo opportunity, a kind of Downtown Abbey meets M.C Esher affair with Dishi Rishi and his team arranged around a rather plush staircase. After that, it all got a bit fishy with Rishi donning his Sheriff of Nottingham persona according to the Rowntree Foundation. They state changes to universal credit will push more people into poverty and over a million people would be paying tax for the first time.  It does look as though we are all going to pay for the World-Beating Moonshot test and trace consultancy fees whether we like it or not.

Whilst we’re on the subject, we think we have a spare hour or two on Monday’s and Tuesday’s and are available as consultants for a very reasonable fee. We have little expertise in much at all but do both own a suit that we could wear without a tie when necessary.

Talking of Moonshots, Space-X did their third test with their Starship this week. It did manage to land this time but then exploded eight minutes later. Much as we’re both desperate for some travel outside of the 7 mile radius of this building, we’re even less ready than Space-X to lay down our beach towel at the final frontier just yet.

There has been rather a lot of movement on the earth front. In Sicily it has literally been raining minerality as Etna has been throwing rocks and sand into the sky, New Zealand’s North Island had an earthquake of 8.1 magnitude just this morning and in Iceland there has been much talk amongst scientists that Mount Keilir is about to get busy for the first time since the 12th century. In Wales, they’ve found a secret tunnel to Tintern Abbey probably built in the 12th Century. Closer to home, there have been a lot of roadworks as Thames Water appear to have sprung many leaks.

News of booze this week features a freeze on alcohol tax in the budget, thanks Rishi! Also the US has announced they will drop sanctions on single malt Scotch whisky. This is also good news for Stilton producers who somehow managed to get wrapped up in the same piece of legislation. Not necessarily a partnership I’d go for, but horses and courses…

As for us, we’ve bought a new Aussie. Made by Ben Glaetzer, Heartland Directors Cut Shiraz (£28.99), from Langhorne Creek, is a cracker. The estate’s flagship wine, it has bags of berry compote, violet and chocolate on the nose. The palate is a spiced plum and bramble fruit, some liquorice spice and a finish almost as long as the Oliver Stone final cut of JFK. An excellent wine to ease you through those short ribs that have been going low and slow on the BBQ all afternoon whilst you watched Le Strade Bianche.

With that we bid you a fond adieu until next week’s thrilling instalment.