Archive for May, 2021

Truth, Denials, Penalties & English Red

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Just to be clear, in case it was lost in any of the mudslinging, Dominic Cummings was appearing in front of the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday to ‘help’ with their joint inquiry into lessons to be learned from the response to the coronavirus pandemic so far.

I say just to be clear because, when you look at all the startling revelations, you could be forgiven for thinking he was having his Harry & Meghan meet Oprah moment as he unloads everything that he has already unloaded on Twitter in the days before.  But this wasn’t his opportunity to break into the American market; it was, in fact, the time for him to tell the truth….

And boy, what truths!  Here are some of the startling revelations, in short form:

  • Matt Hancock should have been sacked
  • Boris Johnson is not fit to be PM
  • Lockdown came too late
  • The lines between Boris’ work life and his private life are too blurred, as evidenced by Dilyn-gate
  • His trip to Barnard Castle was “definitely a major disaster for the Government and for the Covid policy”
  • More people died than should have
  • There was no shielding for care homes
  • “any system that leaves people with the choice between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn is obviously a system that’s gone extremely badly wrong”
  • The Pope is Catholic
  • A one legged duck swims in circles
  • Bears have a penchant for ‘alone time’ in the woods

Yep, thanks Dom, not nearly as revelatory as it could have been and in fact the only assessment we can make of all this is that you are a man trying to distance himself from horrific events when in fact, from day one, you were in the thick of it!

Of course, Matt H and Boris J have both denied everything.

On the world stage, Joe Biden has ordered a review of the origins of Covid-19 to include investigation into the possibility it escaped from a lab in Wuhan.  Now, when the Donald was trumpeting such theories we all smiled and said ‘yes, dear’ but now sleepy Joe has followed the same line of inquiry, does it have greater gravitas?  I’m not sure it does but either way, I don’t see an immediate improvement in US/China relations.

In football, Manchester United lost the Europa Cup final to Villarreal on penalties.  Now, we all know how penalties work, one player tries to get the ball past another player into a goal from a distance of 12 yards.  Simple enough, not quite 50/50 but still the goal keeper has a chance.  What is more, you would imagine these things get practised in training as part of the shot-stopper’s job, surely?  Now, step forward David de Gea, regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and the current choice for the Spanish national team but with a serious Achilles heel – he hasn’t saved a penalty for Man Utd for over 5 years!  On Wednesday he extended this record by letting in 11 penalties in a row before having to take one himself, something he probably hasn’t practised so much and, to add to his woes, was saved… if ever a man needed a hug from his mum, this was he!

Locally, we’ve carried on buying and selling wine, as we do, and this week have listed our first English Red Wine:

New Hall Vineyard Limited Edition Pinot Noir 2018 – £22.99

Produced from vines planted in the early 1970’s, this wine showcases the very best that a cool-climate wine can bring.  Ruby in colour with cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose whilst the palate shows typical fruit-driven Pinot Noir characteristics, enhanced by subtle toasty and spicy notes leading to a gorgeous silky mouthfeel.  A year spent aging in the bottle and at a mere 11%, this is a real gem and is only the second English red we have considered worth a third glass!  Couple this with the fact that the mercury is due to hit 24 degrees on Monday; might we suggest it as a bit of a barbecue treat?

If however, you have decided to visit the lands at the end of the A303 this bank holiday weekend, it doesn’t look quite so sun baked – closer to 18 degrees, so perhaps a nice warming bottle of Parada de Atauta Ribera de l Duero 2017 (£23.49), might be more appropriate!

Either way, have a jolly weekend and steer clear of any variants!

Provence Rose In Store, Summer Surely Approaching!

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Unfortunately, we need to start this week’s missive with some bag news….

The single-use carrier bag charge, which has seen a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015, will be increased from 5p to 10 and extended to all businesses in England from 21 May to help drive down sales further.

Thus read the DEFRA press release of 7th May, titled “10p plastic bag charge to come into force on 21 May” and it’s all pretty straight forward I think, which is great because, apart from this announcement we haven’t heard anything from Merton or anyone else who should be enforcing this.  The way we understand it is that, as of today, we need to charge 10p if you’d like a plastic bag to carry home your purchases.  We then keep a record of how many bags we sell and on these sales make an equivalent donation to charity – ideally an environmental one they suggest – we’ll let you know once we decide, although I imagine it might change on a monthly basis…. perhaps we should start with re-planting the trees at the Ford dealership on Plough Lane?

So that’s the bag news, now the bad news.

Summer is cancelled. 

We know this for two reasons.  Firstly, when we asked Anthony in Saucer & Cup when the sun was going to shine he told us ‘not until I tell it to’ and, given the dark scowl he gave, it didn’t feel like soon.  More significant is reason #2: we received our first pallet of the 2020 Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ Provence Rosé Cru Classé yesterday and since we put it in the window and on the floor we have had scattered showers and unseasonably high winds…

We can only apologise for our actions.

However, as you are all well experienced in the foibles of the great British summer no doubt, we reckon you’ll all stiffen your upper lips and drink rosé in spite of the weather, so here’s a bit of info about the winery:

The Château de l’Aumérade is a 400 year old estate located in in the heart of Provence. Originally belonging to the Aumerat family, the traditional Mas property dates back to the Renaissance period.  In 1594, the Duke of Sully, Henry VI’s finance minister, presented the Château with a Mulberry tree and some Plane trees for their luxurious gardens, as thanks for supplying the Royal Court.

In 1930, a young Henri Fabre senior and his wife Charlotte, fell in love with the Château de l’Aumérade, with its 300 hectares of estate vineyards and purchased it from the Aumerat family.  The Château was designated as a Cru Classé when the Provence appellation was created in 1955, a system classifying the wine estate rather than the vineyard area.  It is one of 18 that still remain in the designation.  The Château is currently run by Henri Fabre junior and his sister Marie-Christine.

A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish.  We think it is the perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with the Sunday papers, a deck chair and either a parasol or an umbrella!

A single bottle is £15.99 but now we are allowed to have friends over and all that jazz, why not treat yourself to six bottles for £80?

Any good news Wayne, I hear you ask?

Well, kids, not really.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there isn’t any good news, just that there isn’t really any news.  If we don’t talk about the headlines there isn’t so much around the edges to bring to the table, unless you want to talk about unscrupulous BBC behaviour 26 years ago or the veiled threat that we won’t be fully unlocking in June.  Either which way, it doesn’t make for pretty reading and often is just causes annoyance.

Leicester won the FA Cup – as a neutral it wasn’t the most exciting game but it was a cup winning goal, so praise where praise is due.  Tottenham are having a spectacular late season implosion the like of which all Arsenal fans have dreamt of – and Harry Kane wants to leave – who knew?!  In real sport, further watching of the Giro d’Italia has taught us that it rains as much in Tuscany and Umbria as it does here and, more importantly, that Grand Tour cyclists can lose their balance (and lose face) going round a greasy bend just as easily as someone cycling home from the pub after a couple of pints!

No huge news in the world of wine either – the Bordeaux en-primeur campaign continues with less fanfare than in previous years – is this still the best way to sell the vintage or should it be re-vamped?  Or, as the top wines become more exclusive and expensive is it perhaps time for us all to put our pounds in someone else’s pockets?  Not sure but I do know that Tim Atkin just gave his first 100 point score to a wine from Argentina this week…

I think that’s it really for this week now.  We are both praying for rain under the premise that never before have our prayers been answered, so just be prepared for a heatwave – you heard it here first!


Stay Sane and Wear a Mac

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

If we’re honest, Friday seems to have arrived rather quickly this week, so what has happened since we last spoke?

The Champions League final has finally moved to Porto, I suspect flights are selling fast if you’re in possession of a ticket, take a few days though, it’s a great city worth a visit!

Tesla have announced they are to stop taking Bitcoin as payment for your new motor, citing the high use of fossil fuels in the mining process. A more cynical commentator than I might point out that the energy use hasn’t changed since they announced they had bought a chunk of Bitcoin and would henceforth be accepting it as payment. That was way back in February 2021, I guess a lot has changed.

Israel and the Palestinians are back on the front pages for all the reasons they usually occupy news columns, oh for a return to those rosy days of vaccination success news instead.

In news that’ll surprise nobody, David Cameron, testifying in front of a Commons Select Committee, tells us that he was paid “a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister”.  Impressively he managed to keep a straight face when his own speech about lobbying was read back to him.

In news that certainly surprised us, following the runaway success of the European Super League a few weeks ago golf has decided that is exactly what they need themselves. A Saudi backed Super Golf League seems to be in the offing. We’ll see how it pans out as players may well get banned from participating in the Ryder Cup for a start. We’re sure it’s not just  money or even as Amnesty International said “sportswashing” but for the good of the sport in general. Mr McIlroy is not a fan but Mr Rose may well be, so we’ll have to sit it out and see, a launch date is set for September 2022.

In real sports, the Giro d’Italia is enjoying its first week. The weather has been rather wet so we’re not so sure the riders are having as much fun. Poor old Mikel Landa crashed into a policeman marking a traffic island on Wednesday, whilst the BikeExchange  team car crashed into the back of Pieter Serry on the final climb yesterday. We’re not sure if that counts as outside assistance or interference if we’re honest. He was a little angry to say the least, hardly a surprise given that he was knocked off by a motorbike just two months ago! Anyway, if you’re not watching there is everything to play for and, so far, all of this year’s racing has been a bit edge of the seat!

In wine news, Darling Cellars has had an absolute tragedy in the winery with the stand supporting a stainless steel tank collapsing and creating a domino effect knocking other tanks over and damaging the building, causing a 50,000 litre river of red wine to run out of the building. Like the South African wine industry wasn’t facing enough challenges lately.

Whilst we’re on the subject of South African wine, we had a chat with our chum Tom Doran from Doran Vineyards yesterday. He was looking very fresh for a man who’d just spent two days sitting wine exams. Anyway, he brought us the new vintage of Doran Vineyards Arya 2019 (£11.99) which is sporting some very smart new packaging. We have some hanging about in the fridge if you’re in the market for a cracking unoaked blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. We think that its orchard fruit character and orange blossom note will be absolutely spit spot with that Red Prawn Curry on the Friday night takeaway!

Elsewhere, we have a couple of rather fabulous new Mercurey for all you Pinot Noir lovers. Gaëlle at Jérôme Meunier Mercurey Villages 2019 (£22.99) and Domaine Belleville Mercurey Les Perrières 2018 (£27.99) are both really rather splendid and quite possibly the last things we tasted outside of the shop!

I think that’s enough from us for this week.

Stay sane, wear a mac and on Monday you can go indoors or have a cuddle!

Is now the time for Count Binface?

Friday, May 7th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Voting, missing out on selection to the Lions squad for the South Africa series and godawful weather – I think that covers the week for all of us.

Having spent the week looking at various manifestos, particularly those regarding the role of London Mayor, I have to contend that by far the most enjoyable and, dare I say it, likely to be acted on was that of Count Binface.  I’m not sure how Richard Hewison from Rejoin EU could promise his voters that we would reverse Brexit bearing in mind his remit only covers London but I am sure that Count Binface would be more likely to succeed in point 19 of his manifesto: The hand dryer in the gents’ toilet at the Crown & Treaty, Uxbridge, to be moved to a more sensible position.  In fairness to Richard though, Binface also had at point 10: London to join the EU.  Perhaps there might have been sense in them working together to increase their voting share, under the lead promise of: Hammersmith Bridge to be repaired, and renamed Wayne – I know of one vote that was guaranteed and they could have doubled these numbers if they’d promised to rename all the parks: how does Hyde Park Vintners, NCP Vintners or Park Vintners & Ride sound?

But they didn’t, and hopefully lessons have been learned for next time because I’m sure the Count will be back even if Richard perhaps isn’t…

And now the weather – what goes on there?  It’s still pigging freezing unless you’re in the sun and as a consequence we have had an astonishing number of customers expressing nostalgia for this time last year – I repeat, what goes on there?  Anyway, we checked our archives and this is what we wrote on 8th May 2020:

I don’t know about you but I’ve found it a bit fresh at points this week yet have been enjoying the sunshine nonetheless. We were chatting about how different the mood might have been if it had been raining for these past six weeks, we won’t dwell on it though as we’ve a lovely long weekend ahead of us. Today is the May Day Bank Holiday Monday, despite my calendar saying it’s Friday.

So, put those rose tinted spectacles away all of you, life wasn’t any better this time last year!

It was also this weekend last year that we all sat down and watched Boris’ now famous address to the nation, telling us that lockdown wouldn’t be ending, pubs would not be opening and what, as Matt Lucas brilliantly parodied, we should do:

“So we are saying don’t go to work, go to work, don’t take public transport go to work, don’t go to work.  If you can work from home, go to work.  Don’t go to work.  Go outside.  Don’t go outside.  And then we will or won’t, something or other.”

In the world of Gin, finally there is some sense being talked in relation to what does and doesn’t qualify as ‘craft’. 

Harpers magazine recently held a panel discussion, entitled: ‘Think Gin: Modishness versus Marketing’.

A small batch gin producer expressed their frustration saying:

“The term ‘craft’ has been hijacked by several of the larger distilleries; unfortunately there is no legal definition of a craft brand… To cite an example, we were contacted several weeks ago by an individual looking for a supplier reference, who was starting a new gin brand. We welcome new faces in the market, but the individual stated that they had simply hired a company to make the gin for them – about 1,000 bottles per day.  I tried to explain that this does not qualify as craft gin.  Their response was: ‘Yes, but it sells well, doesn’t it’.”

(James Lawrence,, 05 May, 2021)

Anyway, we applaud these sentiments, which is why we looked Walter at Hepple and Braden at Doghouse squarely in the eye and demanded to look under the bonnet before we listed them!

As a post-script to this, the small batch gin producer’s website banner page states that they are ‘THE WORLD’S BEST CONTEMPORARY LONDON DRY GIN’.  It’s funny but there seems to be no legal definition of best….

Anyway, that’s enough from us this week – it might be rose weather but then it might not.  So buy rosé and sit in the garden.  Or don’t buy rosé and sit inside.  Sit inside whilst getting rosy on the outside.  Or buy white and red and rosé but drink beer.  Take an umbrella, take a parasol but Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99 – wear sunscreen!