Archive for January, 2022

Rhubarb and Other Stories

Friday, January 28th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Frustratingly, when one scans the headlines, not a lot has changed since last week.  We’re still waiting for the potentially underwhelming report from Sue Gray to land on our desk and as a result we’re still having to listen to Keir and co telling Big Dog to resign which they know he won’t do because that would be an admission of guilt.  Rory Stewart, possibly not a lover of large canines, saw fit to add his two penneth to the debate:

“This is somebody who has obviously cheated on two wives, been fired from two jobs…. People have known that Boris Johnson lies for 30 years…. The question is do people want somebody who lies so consistently… Boris Johnson lies all the time, you can document hundreds of lies that he’s told…. I don’t think waiting for the Sue Gray report to find out whether he lies. He lies to his wife, his employers, his colleagues, Parliament…. Often he does it in different ways. He’s probably the best liar we’ve had as Prime Minister.”

Don’t beat about the bush Rory, tell us what you really think!

“This whole thing is total rhubarb.”

Thankfully Boris was able to clear things up. 

Think what you will of the labradoodle, he does often have a decent turn of phrase.  In fact, it feels as though the one report he has received is related to the poll taken by Perspectives Global, where 2,000 adults, aged between 18-50, were asked if they had ever used any of 50 old phrases that are dying out – these are all phrases that you could imagine Boris using…

To be Prime Minister you really need to know your onions or else you run the risk of dropping a clanger.  However, as we can see throughout Boris’ career, he always starts as keen as mustard but this is just a flash in the pan as his constant refusal to toe the line results in it all going pear shaped and costing someone a bomb to get rid of him.  The fact that he was able to continue as a journalist for so long takes the biscuit as he churned out a load of old codswallop on a weekly basis, seemingly incapable of putting a sock in it.  In spite of the fact that he could not organise a p*** up in a brewery, he somehow became Foreign Secretary and, in this capacity, showed the whole world that he was a few sandwiches short of a picnic before becoming a fly in the ointment and resigning.  Once Teresa May left Downing Street he saw this as an opportunity to become a legend in his own lifetime although Covid saw him make a total dogs dinner of his premiership.  Right now it would seem his career is ready for the knackers’ yard, it’s been a bodge job but we must never expect him to eat humble pie since he doesn’t consider that he’s done anything wrong, because he’s mad as a hatter!

Elsewhere, everyone’s favourite international jet-setter has set his own big dogs to work denying all charges against him, which he would of course.  We don’t know much about law and lawyering but we thought “Prince Andrew lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the allegation that there exists photographic evidence of his alleged meeting with Giuffre” took the biscuit.  Blimey, this is the photo that has appeared in probably 90% of the world’s tabloids over the last few years – you could only expect such brass neck from a man unable to sweat!

Now, onto things that don’t make our blood boil.  I’m sure many of you will have come across the excellent book Great Lies To Tell Small Kids by Andy Riley, a veritable treasure trove of silliness that includes classics such as Wine makes Mummy clever.  Anyway, I only mention this because we’ve been talking about lying but now we should talk about wine. 

A Chinese study, published in journal Frontiers, has found that COVID risk is lower in red wine drinkers compared to non-drinkers whilst beer and cider drinkers up to a 28% higher COVID risk compared with non-drinkers.

So, we’ve vaccinated, double vaccinated and boosted, now it’s time to reach for the corkscrew and open that nice bottle of Italian red to make sure we are properly covered – how does this one sound?

Maculan Brentino – £23.99

For three generations the Maculan family has been selecting and vinifying the best grapes from their hillside vineyards, on volcanic soils, with the best sites of the Breganze DOC.  Located about 20 miles north of Vicenza, Breganze is an enchanting village at the foot of the Asiago high plains.  Maculan has long been a favourite winery of ours but, since we left Oddbins many moons ago, we haven’t been able to get hold of their wines.  Until now.  This red is a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon with seductive aromas of blackberries and dark cherries, that lead onto a medium to full-bodied palate with dark fruit character and some nicely balanced tannins that persist well into the finish.

We’ll have this open to taste over the weekend and to complement it, we’ll have an Italian white too:

Vigneti Le Monde Friulano – £15.99

Established in 1970 and recognised as a “cru” within Friuli, it is only under the current owners that the estate has really taken off. This wine is made from 100% Friulano, with aromas of fresh flowers, citrus, lemon and green apple.  The palate is crisp and dry with again notes of apple, peach and pear with a subtle floral note.  Good weight, perfectly balanced by a fresh clean finish – this often slips under people’s radar and we cannot understand why!

And now we must leave you with one last true story, as told by Barry Cryer:

A man drives down a country lane and runs over a cockerel.  He knocks at a nearby farmhouse door and a woman answers.

‘I appear to have killed your cockerel,’ he says. ‘I’d like to replace it.’

The woman replies: ‘Please yourself – the hens are round the back.’


Uisge Beatha

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing.  Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.  In the name of God, go!

I like this quote, it feels like something that might come in useful when dealing with recalcitrant teenagers or dinner guests who haven’t helped with the washing up and keep on drinking your wine….

Boris should have replied ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me’ in in true parliamentary playground style, however he chose instead the far more scholarly riposte: ‘I must say to him, I don’t know what he is talking about’ – take that Davis, how do you like them apples?!

Whilst we understand the excitement surrounding Mr Thick as Mince’s Cromwellian oratory, we feel that perhaps a better question was asked just beforehand, by Labour MP Diana Johnson:

When the prime minister has to spend his time trying to convince the British public that he is stupid not dishonest, isn’t it time for him to go?

Boom – get your coat, Johnson, you’re toast.

In anticipation of all this we’ve spent the week reading about Liz Truss on Wikipedia in readiness for her arrival at Number 10.  However, it now seems that since Boris has single-handedly cured Covid and eradicated it from the British Isles simply by removing Plan B, nobody appears that interested in taking over from him.  And no, of course there hasn’t been any blackmail or manipulation or more accurately, Boris hasn’t seen any evidence….

Shame, in every sense of the word.

I feel we need to move on.  Today is Friday 21st January which means, encouragingly, that Wayne is now 3 weeks into Veganuary and I haven’t touched a drop since New Year’s Eve.

Have we told you how amazing we are feeling, how this period of abstinence has really made us reflect on previous life choices and how generally Zen we are and that perhaps we might even continue into February and beyond? 


That’s probably because we haven’t actually given anything up for this month, it’s all too darned bleak anyway and, if you just abstain Monday to Wednesday each week, that equates to roughly 22 weeks of purgatory per year, which we think is probably about enough.

And why would you want to give up when it’s Whisky season?  Yes indeedy, Burn’s Night is upon us once more, next Tuesday to be precise, but I imagine a number of us will be celebrating this weekend.

Not long before Christmas we added two new Highland Whiskies to our range, from a new labelling called Canmore.  Both of them are here open to taste should you wish to whet your appetite, if not, here are the notes from their website:

Canmore Original Single Malt – £33

A reassuringly complex and smooth Scotch – the search for the classic single malt can end now with this easy-going, easy-drinking whisky. “A well rounded and happy whisky with lots going for it. Would appeal to a novice palate but would also satisfy a regular whisky drinker as a session whisky. Quite moreish.”  Dominic Roskrow, Whisky Consultant

Canmore 12 Year Old – £42

Rich and warming and matured in ex-bourbon barrels for over a decade to create a bounty of deep and complex flavours.  “This is a very nice whisky. It’s not over-assertive – there is no peat, or heavy sherry influence, or over-heavy oak influences. There’s enough going on for it to hold its own in the company of malts such as Old Pulteney, An Cnoc, or Glen Grant.”  Dominic Roskrow (again!)

Of course, we have plenty of other bottles open too, should you need to do a full evaluation


Should Uisge Beatha not be your thing, we’ll have a couple of wines open too

Chatelain Desjacques Chardonnay 2020 – £10.49

Absolute cracking value this from the Val de Loire in France.  A light, crisp and appley Chardonnay given a bit of depth by some time spent on its lees and no time spent in oak.  This fits into that comfortable space where you’d like a glass of Chablis but don’t have a posh Burgundy budget!

Bodegas Staphyle Iris Malbec 2020 – £9.99

This is from Lujan de Cuyo, which is pretty high altitude wise and home to most of the smart names in quality from Mendoza, Argentina.  The winery was originally built in 1930 but fully updated in 2002 by boutique winery Bodegas Staphyle.  The wine is brilliant, youthful and bright with light tannins, cherry and berry fruit characteristics and a lovely easy going finish. Cracking with some of that haggis you’ve got planned!

That’s just about it from us – same time next week, perhaps with a new PM?


A Bit Over It, January Sale, Going Tasting!

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we’re a bit over it, if we’re honest.

As we reach the gazillionth day of Covid dominated news we thought, rather than go off on some inarticulate rant that would bore you and just incense us more, we would instead  have a quick flick through the dictionary, just to check that our understanding of certain words was the same as everyone else’s.  Here are some examples:

  • ENTITLED [ɪnˈtʌɪt(ə)ld] adjective – believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

“they feel so entitled and think the world will revolve around them and the rules don’t include them”

  • ARROGANT [ˈarəɡ(ə)nt] adjective – having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

“he’s arrogant and opinionated but not an expert”

  • TENNIS PLAYER noun – an athlete who plays tennis

“No, Novak Djokovic is not a virologist or an, epidemiologist, he is a tennis player”

  • ISOLATION [ʌɪsəˈleɪʃ(ə)n] noun –  the process or fact of isolating or being isolated

Mr Ramella, I’ve tested positive for Covid so will need to isolate rather than do this interview”

synonyms: separation · segregation · setting apart · keeping apart · quarantine · insulation · seclusion · closeting · protection · shielding · partitioning · solitariness ·

  • PRIME MINISTER noun – the head of an elected government; the principal minister of a sovereign or state.

“Yes, Boris Johnson really is our Prime Minister, the buck stops there!”

  • PARTY [ˈpɑːti] noun – a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment.

“Hi all, after what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening. Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

synonyms: social gathering · gathering · social occasion · social event ·

Having now checked, it seems we did have the correct understanding off all of these words, it was just some others who didn’t.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has said he is limiting contact with other people, because a family member has tested positive, and will continue to do so until at least Tuesday – what a convenient time to start following the rules!

Moving back into the shop, there are deals to be done.  By simply walking through the door and stating something along the lines of:

‘I believe that, if I choose 6 bottles of wine, either all the same or 6 different, that may also include some of your sparkling wines but not your spirits, then I am ENTITLED to a 16.66% discount?  Furthermore, this ENTITLEMENT is not limited to just one ISOLATED visit, I can actually use it as many times as I want until the end of January – perhaps I should have a PARTY?’

Of course, you don’t have to announce yourself in such a pompous manner, we’d be very excited if you did however (might even give you a prize!), not to worry though, this entitlement is open to everyone, not just our pals!

I think Wayne explained it all last week but just to confirm:

If you buy 6 bottles we’ll only charge you for 5 – which in maths terms is a 16.66% discount – and we do it mathematically rather than giving you the cheapest one free because, frankly, that’s just not how we do things round here…

I think that’s probably it for now – good news is we’re already half way through the month, in 31 days time it’ll be Valentines Day, half term will be in full swing and we’ll be knee deep in the Six Nations whilst happily careening towards Spring.

And we might have a new Prime Minister?  Let’s see….

Finally, we will be closed on Monday.  It’s the annual tasting of a key supplier and we’re hoping to find some new wines to tantalise your taste buds  as well as taste some vintage changes.

New Year in, Angélus Out and a Sale

Friday, January 7th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Happy New Year folks, may your cup overfloweth! Perhaps not with the red though, we don’t want to stain the carpet.

Away in the sunshine Down Under, Novax Djokovic discovers that being famous is not everything and not doing something can carry as many consequences as doing something. On which note we would take this opportunity to remind you that you’re in the last three weeks of time to do your tax return and, as a note to self; we have pretty much the same amount of time for our VAT return.

In wine news we can report that Chateau Angélus has decided to withdraw from the St Émilion classification system. “While acknowledging the benefits the Saint-Émilion classification has brought, Château Angélus has decided it is time to withdraw.” Drawn up every 10 years, it is due to be announced again this year amid reports that already two estates have plans to appoint lawyers. You may recall us reporting that following almost 10 years of court proceedings Angélus owner Hubert de Bôuard was found guilty by a French court in November 2021 of having undue influence in setting the standards of the 2012 classification.

We have stated before that if the lesser performing estates spent as much time concentrating on their vines and wines as they did in their lawyers office everyone could benefit. For the record, of the top four performing estates in St Émilion, only Chateau Pavie remains in the classification.

Whilst we’re on the subject of wine, I’d like to mention we’re having a January Sale. Despite everyone’s best efforts we just didn’t manage to sell out before the year end. As a result we have decided to continue a tradition we started in 2011 by offering you some FREE WINE.

Your eyes do not deceive you if you buy 6 bottles we’ll only charge you for 5. In reality that’s a 16.66% discount, not one of ‘the cheapest one free’ shenanigans that other retailers might like to hoodwink with…

Apart from spirits there are only a few odd products here and there that we’ll have to exclude but we’re sure you understand.

We understand that some of you may be involved in Dry January. It’s not for us in much the same way as Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. We admire your spirit though, and would mention that do have a Zero Alcohol Sparkler should the charms of San Pellegrino wear a bit thin.  

That’s enough from us for the first week of the year, do pop in and say hi and leave with a box you only paid for five of.


Wayne & Alex