Archive for August, 2021

To Beer Or Not To Beer

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Us again, feels a bit soon to be celebrating the end of another week with a bottle of Friday Fizz but I can assure you that it is definitely the weekend once again.  Plus it’s a long one this time,  the late August bank holiday is on Monday which signifies the end of bank holiday season until we celebrate a pair of them on the 27th & 28th December; let me be the first to wish you all a very Merry Christmas….

Back in the now, having mentioned the shortage of customers last week it would seem that the much hoped for delivery of clientele needing refreshment has failed to show up this week too.  On Monday and Tuesday I think we could probably have put our deckchairs in the middle of Arthur Road and snoozed undisturbed for an hour or two and in fact Wayne did suggest a mammoth game of badminton versus the odd-numbered side of the street but they were all too busy cutting hair, selling houses or making coffee.

So we had to entertain ourselves.  Having failed to sell the jeroboam of Sela last weekend it was suggested we taste it anyway, just to check, but Wayne vetoed the prospect of a magnum each on a Monday as setting an unruly precedent, so we had an ice cream instead.  Tuesday found us applying for HGV licences as we realised that the quickest way for us to ensure we got our Haribos, Nandos and McDonalds milkshakes was to stop moaning about the problems and become part of the solution, whilst getting paid to do it.  Wednesday we listened to a lot of Rolling Stones albums and watched England play cricket in a way that would have made Charlie smile.  And Thursday was yesterday, grey and not altogether as warm as it could have been but nonetheless, one step closer to fizz Friday.

In the world outside of our immediate environs it seems the news is largely filled with stuff we kind of thought might happen.  Covid spikes in Cornwall – not a total surprise.  Harry Kane staying at Spurs – if Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis don’t want you to go Harry, you’re not going.  The new travel green list not really changing the status quo for most of us –  business as usual really. 

And no news whatsoever in the world of wine.  In the beer world however, crimes against taste continue to be committed.  Reading The Drinks Business earlier, we were delighted to see that Dunkin’ Donuts are releasing 3 more beers on the unsuspecting public.  As we didn’t know they were even in the beer game this came as a surprise but apparently for the last few years, in collaboration with Harpoon Brewery, they have been making a Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ale.  By all accounts all their beers are made using ‘Dunkin’s iconic coffee, donuts and matcha tea’.  We now hear that the new beers in the stable will be: Maple Crème Blonde Ale brewed with donuts and maple syrup from Dunkin’, Midnight American Porter brewed with Dunkin’s new Midnight Roast coffee  and Blueberry Matcha IPA brewed with blueberries and matcha.  Hmmmm….

Whilst they may be interesting in some corners, we won’t be selling them.  Added to this list of things we certainly won’t be selling is the weird collaboration between Virginia’s Champion Brewing Company and  Duke’s Mayonnaise to create the perfect beer designed to complement the egg-based condiment!

Beers we do sell look something like this:

Belleville Brewery – Wandsworth Common

Commonside Pale Ale 33cl can 5% – £2.60

Thames Surf IPA 33cl can 5.6% – £2.70

Spring Break Sour 33cl can 4.3% – £3.00

Spring Break Gose 440ml can 4.3% – £4.00

Park Brewery – Kingston’s finest brewery

Kingston Gate Lager 33cl can 4.1% – £2.80

Phantom Kolsch Lager 44cl can 4.2% – £3.50

Killcat Pale 44cl can 3.9% – £3.80

Ballet Loop Table Beer 44cl can 3.4% – £3.80

Gallows Pale Ale 44cl can 4.5% – £4.00

Spankers IPA 44cl can 6.0%£- 4.50

Sambrooks  – our longest serving beer, now based in the Ram’s Quarter

Wandle Ale 50cl bottle 4.2% – £2.79

Pumphouse Pale Ale 50cl bottle 4.2% – £2.79

Session IPA 440ml can 4.0% – £3.40

SlyBeast Brewing – brewed in Wandsworth by the Pig & Whistle legends

Lager 33cl can 4.3% – £2.80

1533 Session IPA 44cl can 4.2% – £3.70

Wimbledon Brewerybest brewery in Colliers Wood

Gold Lager 33cl can 4.8% – £2.70

Lindemans – classic Belgian brewer

Gueuze 25cl 5% – £2.00

Paulaner – Munich’s finest

Munchner Hell Munich Lager 50cl bottle 4.9% – £2.79

All far better than anything Mr & Mrs Donut can produce.

That’s about it from us for this week.  As it’s the late summer bank hols we’ll open the Château de L’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2020, Côtes de Provence Cru Classé – £15.99 (Six bottles for £80) and de Bortoli ‘The Accomplice’ Shiraz 2019 – £9.39 both of whom are perfect accompaniments to all that barbecued food you’ll be eating this weekend!

BREAKING NEWS – just sold the jeroboam of Sela, lucky we didn’t polish it off ourselves!

Gone Fishin’

Friday, August 20th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week has felt very much like a week when we should just put up the Gone fishin’ sign and sit by Wimbledon Park Lake, hooking carp and netting golf balls, just to see if anyone might notice our absence. 

And it would seem you didn’t.  Monday we caught bream and pike too and I now have enough Callaway’s to see me through the winter.  The sundowners we enjoyed on the terrace of Wimbledon Park Golf Club just served as reminder that this is one of the nicest places to enjoy an evening beer in SW19 and what a huge and sad loss it will be when the club gets engulfed by the AELTC.

But we have now put our waders away and are back in the shop, anticipating that at least one of you must be still here and will want a glass of the good stuff over the weekend, because frankly we’re all going to need it.  Any thoughts we had of a midsummer heatwave seem to have disappeared in a puddle of rainy mediocrity.  Gone are dreams of tan lines and buckets of rosé in the back garden since apparently we’ve already had 117% of our usual August rainfall here in London and are due more over the next week.  So, it’s all about red wine for us.

Over the past year there has developed something of a standing joke between us.  Every time we order from Bodegas Roda, we order a jeroboam of Sela, their lighter, earlier drinking Rioja designed to be enjoyed whilst you wait for your posher wines to come of age.  Anyway, the Wayne eyebrow is always raised because he is never quite sure if we have a market for a ‘four bottle’ bottle so I try to mollify his concerns by stating that I’ll buy it at Christmas if we haven’t sold it by then.  The ‘joke’ is that we usually sell the jero within a week of receipt, Wayne’s nerves remain unfrayed and I have no wine for December.

Except this time we’ve had it in stock for 10 days now and no one has even asked about it, so in Wayne’s eyes this is now seen as an overstock, a slow moving line, a delist even and he’s putting the pressure on yours truly to do something.  Perhaps the tasting note we’ve written ‘plenty of fun to be had with this one’ is not giving enough information, so it’s probably time I put some meat on the bones.

Of course, there is plenty of fun to be had, but a tasting note might be more helpful.  The Bodegas Roda winery was founded in the late 1980s and has rapidly gained renown for its meticulous and exacting research into Tempranillo, one of Spain’s oldest indigenous grape varieties. Using the most modern of technology, Roda have perfected the art of Tempranillo, identifying 552 individual clones, from which only 20 have been selected for propagation, chosen for the quality they deliver in specific vineyard plots.  Their flagship wine, Cirsion, sells for about £150 a bottle and is an absolute delight.  Roda I is the next tier down and whilst notably less expensive than Cirsion still is a bit of a wallet emptier. 

This is where Sela comes to the fore.  A blend of 87% Tempranillo, 7% Graciano and 6% Garnacha the nose is intense, vivacious with aromas of fresh cherries and raspberries.  On the palate we continue with the red fruit characteristics from the nose with a medium weight palate and a long elegant finish with fine tannins.  The winery recommends it be drunk with pinchos and tapas but of course, if you’re me, it’s perfect for Christmas dinner, if it makes it that far!

Bodegas Roda Sela 2016 JEROBOAM – £95

Not much else to report on this week, I think we all know what the news is and there is nothing we can add.  A conversation with a customer yesterday evening concluded with the idea that there is actually too much news available nowadays.   A return to a morning newspaper and the New at Ten with Sir Trevor as our sole sources of update might be preferable so we can concentrate on other stuff in the interim without being constantly updated and worried.  We then digressed into a discussion about how policemen were suddenly looking younger and how the summer of 1976 was a proper scorcher, realised how old we sounded and swore never to speak of such things again and went back to talking about what wine we would taste this weekend.

I feel, having talked it up in grand format, we should probably open a normal sized bottle of Bodegas Roda Sela – £22.49 for you to taste, before you purchase the big fella.

For white, we’ll keep a peninsula theme and go to Portugal for the Casa Vilacetinho Vinho Verde DOC 2020 – £9.99.  A charming and light blend, only 10% alcohol, of Avesso, Arinto, Azal and Loureiro.  Gentle citrus and orchard fruits lead into a fresh, smooth and light palate that can be enjoyed at any time!

And that’ll be it from us.  Hopefully we’re wrong about the weather but if we’re right you’re more than welcome to take refuge and share a glass with us – if it’s a proper deluge then maybe we’ll go halves on the jero!


Wayne’s Weather Report

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We find ourselves arriving at Friday with slightly drier clothes and shoes than last week and a sunnier outlook.  

The UN has published the 6th report by the International Panel on Climate Change and it makes for some grim reading. The words “unprecedented” and “irreversible” are not necessarily what you want to see connected with the human influence on global warming. Our TV screens have been filled with pictures of flash flooding around the UK as we have days where a week or month’s rainfall has dropped out of the sky in minutes, repeatedly. We’ve even had customers pop in the shop looking like they’ve just got out of a bath with their clothes on when all they did was walk 100 yards from the Co-Op.

Meanwhile, Greece, Turkey, Siberia, Canada and California are all struggling with wild fires.  The Stockholm Climate Conference of 1972 identified many of the problems; we had the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 saw representatives of 150 nations attend and adopt the first international treaty to control and reduce greenhouse gases. In 2015, in Paris, attendees from 196 countries negotiated the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In Glasgow, in November, the UK will be hosting COP26 Climate Conference. Nearly 50 years after the first conference, delegates from all over the world will be flying into Glasgow to have a chinwag about how awful everything is getting.

There will be some tough decisions made, developing countries will be exempted, a piece of paper will be signed and many column inches and hours of news will be devoted to the impending success of the chat.  I can’t help but think that perhaps Zoom, Teams, or an equivalent might be a little less taxing on the environment? We’ve been talking for nearly 50 years; perhaps some action might be just the ticket?

Whilst we’re talking about flying, Lionel Messi flew into Paris this week. We saw him announcing, through floods of tears, how heartbroken he was to have been unable to compromise on his near £600k a week salary demands whilst the club he has been at for 18 years suffers a little financial difficulty. I guess that first £300 million didn’t go as far as expected!

Whilst we’re shooting the breeze about cash, a chap working at the British Embassy in Berlin named as David Smith has been arrested by the German police for selling secrets to the Russians for cash. It is unclear at the moment if he was wearing a beige Macintosh or if the cash was hidden in a folded newspaper.

Staying on the subject of David’s, “River Dave” a chap who has lived off the grid in New Hampshire for thirty years was rueing the fact that he’ll be unable to return to life as a hermit after his cabin was burned down last week. Having been jailed last month for contempt on a civil case (a timely word of caution there surely!), he was freed by a judge after the fire and has received over 20 offers of places to stay since.

It seems “ Call me Dave” Cameron who earned £7 million from his help at Greensill Capital may be in another spot of bother after a genetics company he worked for, Illumina, was awarded an £123 million government contract after he intervened on their behalf with Matt Hancock. In unrelated news, it seems that Nadhim Zahawi has learnt enough as vaccine minister to be tipped as a replacement to Gavin Williamson at Education.

In wine news, not a lot seems to be going on; grapes are getting riper in Europe, whilst the vines are enjoying the last month or so of their winter sleep in New Zealand and Australia. We had a chat with Rachel and Jonathan at Domaine Treloar this week who are based down in Trouillas, south of Perpignan. The sun is shining and tourist season has just started so they are receiving visitors, so should you find yourself down in that part of the world, do look them up!

Talking of wine, we received our allocation of the rather wonderful 100% Pinot Noir Cuvée from Bollinger this week. It is based on the 2016 vintage (50%), with reserve wines back as far as 2006. Made entirely from Pinot Noir with the grapes predominantly from the village of Verzenay, Bollinger PNVZ16 (£85) is the second interpretation of what will become a regular series highlighting the wonderful Pinot Noir plots that Bollinger own.

We’ll open Cantine Povero Roero Arneis (£14.99), a cracking white wine from Piemonte with some stonefruit and apple character a touch of that classic almond note in the finish. Cantine Povero has around 35 hectares and the entire estate is farmed organically.

Charging the red glass will be Herdade do Portocarro Autocarro 27 Red (£12.99) a cracking red from Setubal, that is a blend of Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and has lovely plum fruits on the nose and easy going palate with smooth tannins and a nice freshness that is versatile with all suits of food.

That’s enough from us for this week, do come and have a taste!


Normality, Cheese, Wine & Coffee

Friday, August 6th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Hasn’t August been great so far!  Wall to wall sunshine, back to back barbecues and ear to ear smiles all round – certainly photos we see from people holidaying abroad tell this tale.  Here though, it’s all a bit ordinary, isn’t it?  Dull weather doesn’t make the staycation feel like the best decision I’ve made recently and even the quieter roads and short queues at the bar don’t quite stop me from thinking about tapas and the bars of Benahavís…

But we’re here, so let’s make the best of it.  We’ve allowed ourselves to turn the telly on over breakfast (normally verboten) to watch the latest medal winning performance in a sport that until now we hadn’t come across – speed climbing for example – and we’ve loved it.  We’ve watched the cricket, admittedly from behind the sofa on Wednesday but yesterday we felt a bit more confident.  We even watched the tedious Lions rugby last weekend which felt like an Olympic discipline as gruelling as the marathon swim.

Conforming to his reputation as a gentleman, aesthete, scholar and gourmet, Wayne always prepares himself a rather splendid luncheon to accompany his prescribed glass of early afternoon red.  Often this luncheon will include/entirely consist of cheese and will always be accompanied by some highbrow periodical that apparently helps him solve The Times crosswords.  On Wednesday, on his way to Saucer and Cup for his post prandial caffeine fix, he thrust that day’s literary offering under my nose and, with a smile, said ‘You’ll like this!’

My eyes fell upon a Cardiovascular Research review paper by Gabriele Riccardi, Annalisa Giosuè, Ilaria Calabrese and Olga Vaccaro at the University of Naples Federico II – Dietary recommendations for prevention of atherosclerosis – July 2021.  Now, we all want our hearts to keep on beating for as long as possible but it appears that Mr W. has been checking out what we should and shouldn’t be eating and drinking.  He read this paper so that we didn’t have to and has these keynotes to offer us:

  • a 2020 meta-analysis of studies found an 18 percent reduction in the incidence of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in subjects who habitually consumed cheese
  • consumption of three cups of coffee per day is associated with a 10 to 16 percent reduction in risk of heart disease incidence and mortality
  • two glasses of wine per day is associated with a maximal risk reduction of 32 percent of cardiovascular disease

There was also some good news relating to chocolate but since that doesn’t usually appear on his lunch table, he didn’t divulge the full details.  Plus, we are led to believe that whilst a UK ‘unit’ of 8g of alcohol, an Italian ‘unit’ is 12g.  Feels like a win, trebles all round!

In other news we read a headline on the Beeb website that asked the question ‘Is Covid over?’ and, to be honest, we didn’t bother reading further as this seemed like a bit if a non-article, sent to wind us up.  Australia got their way as we saw the postponement of the Rugby League World Cup until next year; this writer can foresee the postponement of the Ashes this winter too, particularly as only 15% of their population have been jabbed currently (and, of course unrelated, we will be without Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer).  Grant Shapps shuffled his red, amber and green cards and decided that France was no longer as naughty as previously thought, Mexico is extremely naughty yet somehow Spain is ok and the likes of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Malta, Norway, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia get the full green light – start packing your bags!

Last weekend saw the cautious return to a bit of wine tasting action in the shop.  Wayne opened some Albariño, the heavens opened, the tube station shut and not many people got to try the wine.  Unperturbed and with an optimistic nod towards a return to normality, we will be opening a couple of bottles this weekend and, since it’s been such a long time, this is a great opportunity to open some new listings.

In white we have Manos Negras Torrontés 2019 – £14.99 from the high altitude desert of the Calchaquíes Valleys in Salta, Argentina.  We always enjoy the aromatic fresh floral nose that you get with Torrontés, urging you to taste the wine, which never disappoints giving similar tropical fruit flavours attached to a long, crisp and fresh finish.  Great with a Thai green curry…

For red, we’ve gone to Italy for our inspiration.  That T-bone you are planning to barbecue this weekend would be simply splendid with Fattoria di Calappiano Vinciano 2019 – £14.99.  The estate was founded circa 1500 by the famous Florentine family, the Medici who probably spent a bit of money on it at the time!  Anyway, the estate is still flying and this Chianti is a lovely juicy Sangiovese with lush red fruits, herby hints and a touch of wood-smoke on the finish – it really won’t take very long to finish the bottle!

That’s it from us for now – please pop by and say hello, have a taste and raise a glass to normality (we hope!)