Archive for June, 2021

English Wine Week

Friday, June 18th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Congratulations to ultra-runner Sabina Verjee who this week smashed the record for the Lake Districts 214 Wainwrights. She finished the route, 325 miles, including 36,000 metres of ascent, in 5 days 23 hours 49 minutes and 12 seconds which is more than six hours quicker than the previous record! I don’t know about you but my legs ached just reading about it – Chapeau!

Meanwhile, high in the Ecuadorian Andes, scientists have discovered a new species of frog and named it after Led Zeppelin. At this stage it is unclear if Pristimantis ledzeppelin was discovered on a stairway, or just a ramble. Let’s hope it wasn’t trampled underfoot!

Dominic Cummings tried one of his interventions this week. I’m not sure much will come of it with the exception of my inner voice forever thinking of the Health Minister as being Matt Hopeless, a name I’m sure will follow him for longer than any of us will find funny. Just like that initially tall chap at school everyone called Stretch for years after we all caught him up in the height stakes.

The booze trade can be a funny old place, last weekend was World Gin Day, yet today it’s only lunchtime and I’ve already sold four times as much gin! Talking of gin, there seems to be much talk within the trade that all of the sweet fruity styles have had their day. In other news, we ordered a Pinot Noir for Christmas this week and we’ve not even reached the Summer Solstice.

Summer Solstice is, of course, next week (Monday as you asked) and the queue on the A303 will make its annual 24 hour long performance as everyone pops along to Stonehenge for some socially distanced dancing, glass of cider and to watch the sun’s perfect alignment through the stone arches.

Next week just happens to be English Wine Week as well. There are now 3500 hectares planted to vines in the UK, which is four times as much as in 2000. That produced 10.5 million bottles in 2019 (latest figures), of which almost three quarters was sparkling.

We have followed the development of the English Vineyards with a keen interest over the years and are finding that, as we move through time and vineyards get a handle on their terroir and the vagaries of the weather, the wines are getting better and better.  We thought this would be an ideal time to highlight what we’ve gone with so far…

Sparkling

Hawkins Bros Brut Reserve, Surrey, England – £30

We thought we’d start locally with this charming sparkler from just off the Hogsback, south of Guildford.  Made by Greyfriars Vineyard for Hawkins Brothers this is a traditional blend of Chardonnay (56%), Pinot Noir (22%) and Pinot Meunier (22%) with a fine mousse showing plenty of baked apple and creamy, biscuit notes resulting from over 3 years spent on its lees. 

Bolney Estate Classic Cuvée, Sussex, England – £28.99

Bolney were one of the first UK commercial vineyards, bought in 1972 by Janet and Rodney Pratt, with the first vines going into the ground in 1973. Since 1995, Sam, Rodney and Janet’s daughter, has been running the show. This Classic Cuvée is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. It has a lovely fine mousse, a rounded palate with notes of brioche, hedgerow fruits and a touch of bruised orchard fruit. Stylish and elegant wine with a lovely persistence.

Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé, Hampshire, England – £37

Hambledon have a history that stretches even further back than Bolney. First planted in 1952, winning awards in the 1960’s and by the mid 80’s served on the QE2 as well as various British Embassies and the Houses of Parliament. Sadly, in the 90’s, a change of ownership saw wine production come to a juddering halt and the grapes sold to other vineyards. Fortunately for our story, the estate changed hands again in 1999, more vines were planted and there is now around 200 acres and the UK’s only gravity fed winery. The wine? Well since you ask, its lovely, a blend of 90% Chardonnay with 10% Pinot Noir red wines mostly from the 2015 harvest, with tank-aged reserve wines added. We have a lovely strawberry fruited nose with hints of sour dough toast, a rich palate with again strawberry, a touch of tart cranberry and a creamy yeasty finish.

Still

New Hall Vineyards Bacchus Reserve 2019, Essex, England – £14.49

The vineyards of New Hall are located just outside of Purleigh near Chelmsford. Considered completely eccentric when they started planting in the late 1960’s they are now home to some of the oldest plantings of Bacchus in the UK, certainly the largest (44,500 vines) and they provide grapes to a couple of well-known English Wineries that, frankly, are not very close to Essex. The wine has a vinous, limey nose that leads you into a fruit focused medium dry palate with a reassuring zing on the finish.

New Hall Vineyards Pinot Noir 2018, Essex, England – £22.99

We haven’t tasted many English reds that we thought were worth bothering with. This one was a different kettle of fish though, from vines planted in the early 1970’s, it has been tucked away for the last year or so to enjoy some bottle ageing. Dark cherry fruits on the nose and a really silky palate with a lovely balance (yes I said balance!) of those dark cherry fruits with a touch of spice and earthy notes. Obviously all this deliciousness has its downside in that only a small amount is ever made.

So, let’s make Friday Night Fizz a glass of English shall we?

Cheers,

Wayne & Alex

How’s your week been?

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How’s your week been? We’ve found ourselves bathed in sunshine, shifting rosé out of the door and then home just in time for a sundowner before supper. Funny how a spell of sunshine brightens the mood, eh? Did you cop a glimpse of yesterday morning’s partial eclipse, we missed it as a rather prompt delivery showed up at the inappropriate moment.

Mostly good news on the Covid front this week. The head of the NHS told us the link between deaths and infections was now broken, the ONS said 80.3% of the population have antibodies and over a million people signed up for their vaccinations as we move down through the age groups. In Bolton, the region suffering the most from the Delta variant, cases now appear to be falling.

The G7 has landed in Cornwall, though certainly this correspondent finds it difficult to balance the idea of nations getting together to further a greener agenda and tackle a climate crisis, when each of them arrives in a jet plane capable of carrying 300 people, it’s not as if a train has been able to take the strain since 1860. At least it will finally put Cornwall on the tourist map to help sell that surfeit of hotel rooms and campsite places they have every year. We’re sure our Cornish chums will be over the moon that the rule of six has been superseded by the rule of 6500 security forces! Let’s hope we get some real action and some solutions, I guess the vaccination promises are a step in the right direction.

Scientists have found that infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria has very positive effect in stopping dengue fever. The bacteria don’t harm the mosquito, but it lives in the same part of the mosquito as dengue fever would and therefore prevents the dengue replicating. The study found a 77% reduction in cases and an 86% reduction in the need for hospital care. The study is being rolled out in a larger area now following its success.

On the football front, Alex has not heard a dicky bird from Daniel Levy yet so we’ll move swiftly onto the Euro 2020, which starts this evening in Rome, with Turkey facing Italy. I have to admit I was a little to surprise to see England above Belgium in the bookies list for outright winner but what do I know?
Nobody usually takes much notice of my football comments, so the fact that I think Belgium might win is neither here nor there.

Edelzwicker might sound like a village you passed through once long ago, or some kind of tool no longer used in a woollen mill that is in fact now a wine bar, but it isn’t.

Edelzwicker “is commonly used to designate any blending of white AOC Alsace grape varieties, without any indication of percentage.” What that description fails to tell you is that it’s a dry white, delicious with delicate green fruit flavours, plenty of fleshy texture and a light, refreshing and savoury finish. If there is a more summery white around it has not slapped us around the chops yet (you know when you’ve been Macron-ed).

You may have guessed but if not, we have just taken our parcel of Cave de Turckheim Edelzwicker (£10.99) so don’t be shy if you’d like some…

Last week we listed a couple of new whiskies – new to us certainly but also fairly new to the UK market.

Canmore Single Malt (£33) – whilst it has no age statement it’s a lovely introduction to single malts with wood and spiced apple notes on the nose, and a fruitier buttered cinnamon note on the palate. Easy drinking and rather more-ish.

Canmore 12 year Old (£42) – is a richer and more rounded style, as you’d expect from the aging for all that time in ex-bourbon barrels. Unusually for a highland it’s not peaty but does have an appealing softness with toffee apple notes and a touch of almost coffee/milk chocolate to finish.

Come in and have a chat with us about them, grab an Edelzwicker and a handful of Paulaner perhaps, England open their campaign on Sunday at 14.00 facing Croatia.

Enjoy the sunshine, I’m off to celebrate a chums birthday about 18 months too late!

Cheers!

Tax, Sunshine & Roero Arneis

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How is the South-West? I read in the press that the traffic on the way down left a little to be desired, but it seems the sunshine showed up on time. If it’s any consolation the Lake District National Park is considering a name change to the Lake District Car Park.

In less traffic related news, Tottenham are on the search for a manager. Alex has put his hat in the ring but there do seem to be a few snags with his application that will take some real negotiating skills. Firstly, there are his commitments on Saturdays; it’s difficult to see how he can be stood on the side-line screaming instructions to Son when he should be here selling wine to you.  Secondly, even though he has an extensive knowledge of Italian, he bears no resemblance whatsoever to Brett Anderson or Jools Holland.  On the plus side though, he is cheap, with considerably smaller demands on the salary front than Antonio Conte, Rafa Benitez, or even Sol Campbell for that matter. We’ll see where the horse trading ends up shall we?

In other news, an Irish subsidiary of Microsoft, Microsoft Round Island One, made a profit of £222 billion last year and paid NOTHING, ZERO, ZILCH, £0 in Corporation Tax. It might be legal, but is it right that your neighbourhood wine shop pays more Corporation Tax than Microsoft? We think it might be time this was changed, not in a cross party sense, but in an international sense.  Time some of these international corporations did a bit more for international society. We’re not sure £500k to Oxfam and a rainbow flag during Pride week really cuts it anymore! Next week the G7 summit is in Cornwall and a key theme will be helping poorer countries to recover from the pandemic, perhaps a start could be made there?

Tuesday’s pop up vaccination centre at the Mosque was a big success, with queues around the block and over a thousand people vaccinated by the time they closed at midnight. Well done to all involved, a step closer to normal we hope. In related news, no countries were added to the Green list this week, indeed we seem to have, rather carelessly, lost Portugal. For the moment Iceland is the only place that’ll have us, I’ve not been but have heard it’s rather pleasant!

Space is the final frontier for some nematode worms this week as they are sent up to the International Space Station. The 1mm worms share many biological characteristics with humans and they are being sent up to identify the molecules that cause muscles to weaken and to test some new therapies to prevent muscle loss in zero gravity. One hundred baby squid have also been sent to help understand the effects of spaceflight. No mention was made of salt, pepper or aioli!

In other space related news, NASA has announced to missions Venus in 2028 and 2030, there’s been no investigation in that part of the Galaxy since 1990 apparently so, who knows, it could be on the green list by 2033!

In wine news the Rosé certainly seems to be flying, the Bordeaux ‘En Primeur’ campaign is grinding slowly on and hauliers are still arriving with the wrong paperwork creating delays and logjams at warehouses. The net result of this is that we run out of things on and off, for which we’d like to apologise in advance. It seems to be happening everywhere though; one of the brewers ran out of cans last week!

Given that we started with sunshine but, now the rain has popped in to save us all watering the garden this evening, I thought I’d end on some Piemonte sunshine. Fratelli Povero Roero Arneis 2019(£14.99) is a cracking drop of white, crisp with a soft minerality and pear and stonefruit character that’d be just perfect with mackerel, fennel and olive spaghetti. Also it wouldn’t be a bad match for those fabulous scallops they’ve had at the farmers market lately!

That’s it from us, have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine!