Archive for November, 2021

Forgive Us

Friday, November 26th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Forgive us, this week we have been, much like the PM, on our travels. We might mention Aesop’s assertion that “A man is known by the company he keeps” so not for us the charms of Peppa Pig World but something a bit closer to home. In this context, Alex found himself fully immersed in a Sparkle Evening with 170 people all out on a Monday night having a glass of bubbly. There was also some gift shopping and a raffle; it was a local school’s Christmas event.

Tuesday evening saw us whizz off to watch AFC Wimbledon for one of their rare midweek home games, a rather satisfying 3-2 home win against Crewe Alexandra. Wayne found a certain amount of hilarity in the away fans kept chanting “Alex”, must have been embarrassing as a youngster out on his first date etc… you get the picture. We managed some chips and a pint and at half time and even bumped into a customer and took an order!

Whilst chatting about things local, it would be absolutely remiss of us not to mention the Lighting up of the Christmas Tree at Christ The King. At 4.15 on this Saturday (27th November) will find the St Luke’s Choir leading the carols on the corner of the Crescent as usual. Do come along and join in, carol sheets will be available for the singers amongst you. Not you Wayne!

I guess with the lights going on and School Events happening we’re safe to mention the arrival of Foxdenton Christmas Gin Liqueur – £23. Made with Winslow Plums and a blend of traditional Christmas spices including Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, and Star Anise, our Christmas Liqueur, is the ideal winter warmer. As usual there is limited stocks so don’t be shy.

We’ve also managed to wrestle some mature clarets out of the hands of our chum Jack, all bang in the drinking zone including d’Angludet 2006 (£60) from Margaux and Cambon La Pelouse 2000 (£50) a wine that seems to be forever under the radar despite offering great drinking for years.

The Fizz tasting on 2nd December has but one space left, so if you’ve nothing better to do on a Thursday night than drink some top quality fizz…

If you thought Stella Creasy being reprimanded for bringing her baby to Parliament (one of the better behaved in the chamber we thought!), Nadine Dorries talking about Channel Four’s “taxpayer funding” or Johnson’s cynically ridiculous speech to the CBI were the silliest things in politics this week then you may be mistaken. Forgive us, but you have to  have a look at Nick Fletcher MP suggesting young men turn to crime because Dr Who is played by a woman. Do these people know they are actually talking aloud?

Whilst on the subject of silliness our attention is drawn to snooker player Shaun Murphy, who crashed out in the first round of the UK Championship to amateur Si Jiahui. His rather ranty take on losing, was that Si “played like a man without a care in the world” because he was under no pressure having not turned professional. That’s the same Shaun Murphy who failed to qualify as an amateur in the 2019 Golf Open Championship at County Louth with the words: “I won’t be under the pressure they are under. Most of them are trying to win the Open Championship. I’m just trying to have a good day.” What’s that saying about people in glasshouses?

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start with Domaine Landrau Cremant de Loire Rose (£16.99) a fabulous party bubble and excellent for celebrating silliness, Christmas lights and Carols.

The cue ball will be represented by Domaine Lebrun Pouilly Fume (£17.99) a lovely example full of elegance and restraint that we all enjoy from the Loire.

Rolling us off with the red ball will be Tom and the Peleton (£14.49) a blend of Syrah and Grenache from Ventoux experts Domaine des Anges. I have this down as being a rather tasty partner to that venison you’ll pick up from the game man in the farmers’ market in the morning.

Champagne Tasting and Cowboy Ambience

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Us again, another week gone, not so many weeks to go, just 5 at the last count.

And it certainly feels like life is gearing up for a big December.  We’re getting daily enquiries as to whether we loan glasses (we do by the way, if you buy wine from us) and these enquiries usually also contain the words ‘party’, ‘first time for almost 2 years’ and ‘two Christmases rolled into one’.  So, from our research, it would seem you are all planning on having a drink or two.  Last time it was even close to this it was 1999 and the booze trade (myself included) was peddling a sort of apocalyptic end of the year – Y2K was on everyone’s lips, global meltdown had been forecast and a sort of communal masochism had taken over.  We all knew it was bad for us but we were enjoying it too much and everyone quickly bought into the frisson that whilst the world probably wasn’t going to end at one minute past midnight it would be a shame to have not done as much as we could possibly do to go out with a bang, should we need to…

But we didn’t need to, we woke up on January 1st 2000 physically intact but with just the faintest whiff of a hangover and realised that it was all going to be alright.  Fast forward to now and there is a similar sort of Carpe Diem mood in the air – people are organising get-together’s on Monday nights, historically the Day of the Gym but for now the Day of Gin and everyone is getting on board because you never know when it might all be taken away from us again.

With this in mind, should you have a space in your calendar, we thought we might just do a one of Sparkling Wine & Champagne Tasting on Thursday 2nd December.  We’ve lined up 4 sparklers and 4 Champagnes, we’ll round up some light nibbles and lay up a table for 12 lucky souls – just like the old days!  It’ll start at 7.30pm, it costs £30 per person and we work purely on the basis of first come, first served.

Check your diary straight away…

Elsewhere sleaze and racism sadly seem to be flourishing – sometimes we have to remind ourselves that there are still good people in this world, not all MP’s are corrupt and not all cricketers are bigoted bullies.  Speaking of which, cricket that is, David Warner somehow steered Australia to victory last weekend against New Zealand in the T20 which should never have been possible after his walk in the semi-finals.  Some people get what they deserve, some people don’t always deserve what they get.  Elsewhere in sport, England risk being brought back down to earth this weekend as they face South Africa in the rugby – my question is, what crime  has Adam Radwan committed to be completely dropped – genuinely, if someone can tell me I’d love to know.

Now back to Wimbledon Park – next week we have the prospect of the first orgy of over indulgence of the season as Black Friday rolls around once more.  Suffice to say, for some it won’t necessarily be the first indulgence overload as American Thanksgiving is of course next Thursday.  I emphasise American Thanksgiving, just to appease Francis and Adam who will be keen to remind me that Canada has already had their Thanksgiving in October  and then will rebuke me for failing to mention this in an email… bullet dodged.

Anyway, this never used to be a big sales opportunity for us, for obvious reasons, but as time has gone on and we have seen what I suppose you would call greater globalisation, it is now a thing.  So with this in mind we thought we might open a couple of wines from the good old US of A this weekend to whet your appetites.

Wines with a bit of body are the best with Thanksgiving offerings and on the white side, Vina Robles Viognier 2018 – £19.99, fits the bill perfectly. 

Civil engineer Hans Nef, from Zurich, discovered Paso Robles in the mid-1990s and quickly became enamoured with the emergent wine country.  Here, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranch-lands and cowboy ambiance (and who doesn’t love a story with cowboy ambience?), a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.  This Viognier is planted in the highest part of the Huerhuero Vineyard benefitting from the cooling afternoon pacific breeze.  Crisp and medium-bodied with peach and mandarin fruit with a long lively finish – really rather fabulous.

For reds we have usually gone with Zinfandel, that being the grape that one associates most with the US, however this year we thought we would spread our wings. The Crusher Pinot Noir 2018 – £16.99 fits the bill perfectly, hailing from the Napa in California – a fabulously fruit forward style of wine, soft on the palate sumptuous cranberry and cherry fruit, a touch of oaky spice and a pleasingly long finish.  Last time we had this, the Americans crushed Europe in the Ryder Cup, thankfully we’re not competing against them this weekend!  

Yee haa!

Who Wrote That?

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, how do you manage to keep it up?

Keep what up? I said

Manage to write an email every Friday that I can read over my lunch and glean some random titbit of trivial information that I didn’t know before and that I can repeat in the pub later on, whilst pretending I’ve known it for ages

And so the conversation continued last weekend, whilst chatting with a couple of customers in an off-site location that may or may not have been selling Guinness.  I suspect that the only reason they were even talking to me was because I had just said ‘Can I buy you a drink?’ but nonetheless, they feigned suitable levels of admiration and even laughed at a joke or two whilst I was buying the beers.  It was such a shame that they suddenly realised that they were meant to be washing their hair/watching paint dry/grass grow/get the last train to the coast at exactly the same time that the bar shut and my card went back in my wallet but tant pis.

Anyhow, I bathed in their kind words whilst reflecting inwardly ‘you know what, they’re right, how do we do it every week?’  I mean, I do know that one of us just gets his kids or his Dad to write it and I know that someone gets their wife to check the grammar and punctuation but where does the inspiration come from? 

17th December 2010 was the day we typed Fellow Wine Lovers for the first time.  Since then it has been a published weekly, which, without doing any proper maths, equates to more than 560 missives, three of which even were written by Team Alex.

In a behind the scenes exposé we can today reveal the following: we do not spend the whole week scouring the newspapers for suitable material; we do take it in turns to write the email but not necessarily alternate weeks; if it’s full of made up stuff it’s probably written by Alex and if it has detail and facts then Wayne has his hand on the tiller but sometimes Alex likes to impersonate Wayne which makes guessing this week’s writer more difficult; we have only ever been told off twice by our readers, once for a joke that sailed to close to shore for some people and the other time when someone felt our sport reporting was not to their taste.  We do try to keep it interesting and realise that a regular email just talking about wines we have in the shop could just seem like a damn repetitive shopping list and thus an instant switch off.  So we talk about other stuff and try not to repeat ourselves.

17th December 2010 was the day we typed Fellow Wine Lovers for the first time.  Since then it has been a published weekly, which, without doing any proper maths, equates to more than 560 missives, three of which even were written by Team Alex.

And we try really hard to be funny, with limited success, as demonstrated above.

Some week’s we are gifted things to write about – the Trump years, whilst being wrong in so many ways, certainly gave us plenty of fodder for Friday.  Boris has also been a regular guest on these pages which is totally undeserved of course, as is much of his CV.

And some weeks there is nothing to talk about so we end up channelling Phil Space of Private Eye fame and, before we know it, we have reached the bottom of the page and we can start talking about wines we will have on tasting this weekend.

Having re-read our first email from 2010, we now know that we tasted the Te Mara Pinot Gris 2009 from New Zealand and an organic wine, Tenuta San Jacopo Poggio ai Grilli Chianti 2006, from Italy.  And so, with a nod towards our first email, we will be opening:

Wairau River Pinot Gris 2019 – £15.99 – these chaps have some of the earliest plantings of Pinot Gris in Marlborough and this wine really captures the essence of the regions clean and pure climate.  Succulent ripe pear on the nose, with melon, apple and apricot flavours, nice mouth weight and an exotic lingering finish, this would sit very nicely alongside the Boxing Day ham as we’re moving towards that time of year.

Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico 2018 – £19.99 -A classic style, with a youthful and fruity intensity.  Ruby-red in colour with pleasing floral notes of violet and iris, fresh ripe cherries and a mild spicy nuance which is then complemented by well-balanced acidity, medium tannins and a long persistent finish.  And you know what, it’s organic too, how’s that for closing the circle!

And that, my friends, is how we manage to keep it up – we’ll leave you to it now but do please drop in over the weekend and share a glass whilst giving us your guesses as to who wrote all this twaddle!


Jos Buttler The Next James Bond?

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Where to start this week, so much has happened since we last spoke. We’ll start out with something that has taken months of planning and a large amount of logistics juggling just to get it off the ground. Wednesday, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Alex Dowsett succeeded in bringing a lot of attention and fundraising to Little Bleeders and The Haemophilia Society as he attempted to set a new cycling record for The Hour. Sadly, he was unable to best Victor Campenaerts’ record of 55.089km but we’d like to say here that to fail you have to have tried in the first place. Chapeau Alex 54.555 kilometres is a hell of a long way in an hour.

In Glasgow, COP26 has been taking place. The idea being that holding it immediately after the G20 summit in Rome would somehow supercharge the agreements to save the planet from climate change at this, the last chance saloon. We may have expressed a slight degree  of scepticism couple of weeks ago, but we have changed our position to full blown cynicism now. How can hundreds of people flying first to Rome, then to Glasgow on private jets (over 400 of them) count as taking climate change seriously?  We said above that to fail you have to have tried in the first place, rest assured that COP26 will be branded a huge success. 

Boris, our Scarecrow Soprano, had to dash away from COP26 due to time constraints. Luckily a private jet was on hand to get him to the Garrick Club in time for the prawn cocktail starter. Meanwhile, in parliament outrage erupted across the building as the Conservative Party forced through an amendment to dismantle the anti-sleaze system after one of theirs was busted. Unusually, we find ourselves agreeing with Keir Starmer who called the move “corruption that goes to the very top”.

In unrelated news, it turns out that a recent Marbella holiday for the Johnson family was funded by the Goldsmith family.

In other unrelated news, Owen Paterson has resigned as Conservative MP for North Shropshire, can’t think why.

It seems to us that the government has done more U-turns than an Uber on Arthur Road. What a mess.

In wine news, it seems we weren’t the only people to receive late night visits. In Cáceres, a town in South West Spain a restaurant had 45 bottles of wine stolen in the early hours of Wednesday morning including an 1806 bottle of Chateau d’ Yquem worth about £250 000. Can’t imagine that’s going to be an easy fence!

Last Saturday, Eileen Ash celebrated her birthday with a glass of red wine. It is red wine she credits, along with yoga, for her long life. In her 110 years on this planet she played cricket for England in the 1930’s and 40’s as well as working as a spy for MI6 during and after the Second World War. Perhaps Jos Buttler  should be the next James Bond?

As we keep hearing stories of wine shortages in the press we thought the tasting table could be a place of discovery this week. We’ll open the voting on the white corner with Domaine Lyrarakis Assyrtiko (£14.99) a crisp dry white that you may well have heard us describe as a Cretan take on Chablis.

In the red socks and hailing from the Loire Valley Antoine de la Farge L’Enfant Rebelle Pinot Noir (£16.99) because it is a truly delicious Pinot Noir from the Menetou Salon area of the Loire, and also it has a shooting star on the label which seems somehow appropriate for a week that contains both Diwali and Guy Fawkes night.

Lastly, with you lot being able to go to the pub we’ve been selling a bit less beer. As a result, we have some that needs drinking over the next couple of weeks. If you think you can drink 5 cans in that space of time we can do them for £10.

Whilst stocks last….

Slybeast Lager (normally £2.80) 5 cans for £10

Belleville Steam Lager (normally £2.50) 5 cans for £10

Belleville Thames Surf (normally £2.70) 5 cans for £10

We’ll even let you mix and match if you like.

With that we’ll fizzle off like a damp sparkler!