Archive for February, 2022

De Wetshof Lesca Chardonnay and Quinta do Espinho

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Just when you thought the world couldn’t get any crazier, a fragile attention seeking dictator decides he needs to kill thousands of people who’d rather just be left alone to get on with their lives. You’d have thought the world had suffered enough sorrow the last couple of years.

In other news, the Six Nations is back this weekend, unaltered by the addition of any South African representatives who have opted to stay where they are. England, who host Wales at Twickenham, will be boosted by the return of Lawes but not Tuilagi – at what point does Eddie stop waiting for his Manu. Anyway, we always enjoy this fixture as many of our Welsh readers like to teach us naughty words that we have to Google translate.

We worry many of our Scottish readers will be watching from behind the sofa as an in-form France visit Murrayfield. Let’s hope it’s not a horror show. Italy will be bringing their special brand of hope to Dublin, where Johnny Sexton is set to make a return to the Irish team.

In proper sports, the Spring Classics kick off on Saturday with Omloop Het Nieuwsblaad. The Elite Women’s race is 128 km between Ghent and Ninove. We think it’s difficult to see past Annamiek van Vleuten but would suggest keeping an eye on Sarah Roy too.

The men’s race is between Ghent and Ninove too but, in typical fashion, nobody wanted to ask directions and as a result the route is 204km. Difficult to pick here but Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert and Stefan Kung are all worthy of attention.

Sunday sees Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with some new climbs but without Oude Kwaremont this year. Along with the names above I might just mention Peter Sagan who hasn’t ridden Opening Weekend since 2017.

In wine news, if you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux this year it might be worth looking up Wine Cab. It’s basically a London Taxi that takes you on a tasting tour of vineyards. However, if you’re after a more serious tour in Bordeaux, do let us know and we’ll put you in touch with our chum Hamish who knows just about everyone in that part of the world.

In Warrington, Julia Iverson, who’s just celebrated her 108th birthday, says the secret of a long life is definitely a glass of red wine a day. 

Now that we’ve finally got around to the subject of wine we’ll be opening some of that this weekend.  We have discussed some eye watering price changes in Burgundy with a number of you lately so feel we should look at alternatives. We will start on the white with De Wetshof Estate Lesca Chardonnay 2020 (£16.99). The estate is known as one of the most important Chardonnay producers in South Africa, being pioneers for the Burgundian grape in the 1970’s.

On the red, we’ll head off to the Douro in Portugal for it is here we will discover Quinta do Espinho Colheita 2017 (£13.99) a rather fabulous blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca demonstrating to us once again that there’s great drinking for your money in Portugal.

And finally a reminder:

Today is our annual close-early-and-go-and-run-the-bar-at-the-KCS-quiz-night

So, we must apologise because we will be closing at 5pm.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow at Noon.

Go in peace my friends.

Never been to Tramp

Friday, February 18th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’d like to start off by saying that we’ve never met Prince Andrew, never been to Tramp or even Pizza Express in Woking, so where do we need to send our BACS details? We suspect he’ll disappear from public life and be found on a golf course in the sun somewhere in the desert.

Quite a topsy-turvy week one way and another. St Valentine decreed that we should all start drinking on Monday and we duly did, declaring undying love, indeed loving it so much that we kept it up on Tuesday too.  Windy Wednesday, or Storm Dudley seemed to put us all off though and his partner Eunice is still going. Plenty of sweeping up to be done later and a bit of splicing of the odd electricity cable here and there. I have to say, they may sound more like a mid-70’s sitcom couple but the havoc caused seems a bit more Hammer Horror!

We see in the chilly sports Britain’s Curlers have finally managed to get us on the medal table, so well done them. We also noted that the Wikipedia entry for the skeleton might need an amendment given the statement: “Great Britain is the only nation to have won a medal every time skeleton has featured at the Olympic Games, and has won at least one medal in each of the five contests of Women’s skeleton since its introduction with five different athletes.” Oops.

Something that rather warmed the cockles will happen at St Pancras Station on 8th March. The station will become a stage for a series of brand-new, train-themed micro-operas created by female composers from anecdotes submitted to the Royal Opera House by members of the public, exploring themes of time, motion, meetings and farewells. It seems a lovely addition to your journeys and what a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

We read this week that 2021 saw the highest volume of Champagne produced for a decade, sadly the news arrived after all the emails from all the big brands pleading poverty and dry goods problems leading to price rises. The production figures are for the grapes of the 2020 vintage which saw the earliest Champagne harvest ever, with July 2020 being the driest one ever recorded. All that said, the UK’s thirst for Champagne remains undiminished, surging 30% to 29 million bottles in 2021.We shall continue to seek out small producers offering great wines that are interesting and well-priced.

The Domaine Treloar Tasting is now full up, and we’re all rather looking forward to it.

Today is National Wine Drinking Day 2022, how fortunate that it falls on a Friday eh?

Tasting This Weekend

Propping up the bar in the white t-shirt this week will be Menade Verdejo Ecologica (£15.29) an organic Verdejo from the Castillo Y Leon region of Spain. From 25 year old vines, the wine gives us a glassful of citrus and herb notes, a touch of minerality and a lovely finish.

Rolling in with the red bomber around it’s shoulders will be Domaine Treloar’s Three Peaks (£14.99) a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre from the French Pyrennes and an ideal chance to taste Jonathan’s handiwork for those of you who can’t make the tasting.

Finally, one important piece of admin before we go:

Next Friday, 25th February, is our annual close-early-and-go-and-run-the-bar-at-the-KCS-quiz-night

So, we must apologise because we will be closing at 5pm that day.

Lunchtime Burritos, Parties and a Minx

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I will confess to being in a bit of a crisis this week, a crisis of excess. 

In one hand, we’ve got 50 letters being sent out by the Met to various unnamed recipients, relating to potentially shady goings on in Downing Street; we’ve got the ongoing fallout from the Sue Gray report and we’ve got a famous bodice ripper written by EL James.  Ideally, in the other hand, I would have a clever pun combining all of the above, that would make us all smile for a moment as we unwrap our lunchtime burrito; however, as I uncurl my fingers I find that the palm is empty, there is no pun to be found, just a P45 named Dick.  So, if anyone can come up with something clever using the tools provided, please do let me know before the end of the email and I’ll slot it in.

Were you one of the lucky 50 recipients of a letter from Scotland Yard?  I imagine not, given that you were all at home isolating for the last two years but I have to say I’m intrigued to know what the emailed questionnaire is going to ask, or perhaps should ask:

  1. Did you go to any parties in Downing Street in 2020 or 2021?
  2. Was Boris Johnson there in a work capacity or was he working the room?
  3. As these questions are part of Operation Hillman, which of the following Hillman motor vehicles did you see at Downing Street? Minx, Husky, Super Minx, Imp, Hunter, Avenger or Hustler (please tick all that apply)
  4. And finally, to help our sponsors, do you prefer Claret or Beaujolais with your Brie de Meaux?

This questionnaire has formal legal status and all responses are required within seven days.  You must answer every question with either ‘YES’, ‘NO’ or ‘IT IS SIMPLY THE CASE THAT WE WOULDN’T WANT TO BE SEEN TO BE PREJUDGING THE ONGOING INVESTIGATION.  GIVEN THE CLAIMS AND SPECULATION THAT’S BEEN REPORTED ON, WHAT’S RIGHT IS THAT THE INVESTIGATION IS ALLOWED TO CARRY OUT ITS WORK’

However, we have to assume that we’ll never know the whole truth, so I’ll move on to other things and this week we have a couple of diary notes for you.

It’s the 11th February today, I imagine many of you are all dusting off your passports in anticipation of a snow filled half term break and I fully applaud this.  Anyway, if today is the 11th, tomorrow will likely be the 12th, Sunday should be the 13th which will result in Monday being the 14th.  The 14th February aka Valentine’s Day.  I’d pack a card and a bottle of something nice in amongst your long johns if I were you…. don’t say you weren’t given enough warning!

Almost as exciting as the prospect of drinking Champagne on a Monday night is the prospect of us hosting a winemaker tasting here instore.  On Tuesday we received the following email:


We’re planning on coming to the UK in April for a friends 50th and wondered if you would be interested in doing a tasting on the evening of Thursday 21st April with Jonathan like in the old days

To which we replied:

Yes please, we’d love too

To clarify, the email came from Rachel, Rachel Treloar to give her full name, one half of team Domaine Treloar, down in Roussillon in the nice warm part of France.  Now, over the years both Rachel and her husband Jonathan have done tastings for us here and they have gone down an absolute storm – the combination of great wines, great anecdotes and the opportunity to ask the winemakers some really geeky questions is Alex’s idea of atop night out.  It would seem that, historically, you all have a pretty good time too, given the speed with which tickets tend to sell!

The last time we did a Treloar tasting was with Rachel on 17th October 2019 and prior to that Jonathan filled us with wine and information on 26th November 2014, which just goes to show that another visit is well overdue, where has the time gone?


THURSDAY 21ST APRIL 7.30pm – £20 each – limited numbers, when it’s full, it’s full!

Very exciting!

Back in the here and now, we’ll be having a wee tasting of our own this weekend as usual and these two characters will be on show:

Cramele Recas Solara – £11.99

We chose this because frankly, on this most romantic of weekends, what says ‘I love you!’ better than a vegan natural wine from Romania with a slice of orange pretending to be the rising sun on its label?  See, we’ve got all the moves. 

Anyway, back in truthful-land, we first listed this wine last summer in our Case Club and it sold out really, really quickly.  When we tried to re-order in September we were told it was out of stock until 2022.  Well, we’re in 2022 now and the wine is here once more.  The estate is owned by Englishman Philip Cox and his Romanian wife Elvira who have immaculate vineyards, in mountainous terrain, containing a combination of evolved plantings from 1447 alongside more recent plantings.  A natural minimal intervention wine, it is made by leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the pressed juice, creating a deep orange-hued finish.  The wine ferments naturally without the addition of yeasts, sulphur or any other additions.  The nose exhibits quince, Poire William and a hint of vanilla. A complex and structured palate, it is elegant with discreet fruit flavours of stone fruits, backed up with a complexity and long, balanced finish, incredibly fresh. 

Or, in simpler terms, try it, it’s fab!

Keeping the romantic theme, the red is Spanish this week.

Valenciso have become a leading light amongst Rioja’s small, yet growing, band of micro, terroir-focused producers.  Leaving behind excellent careers at Bodegas Palacio, Luis Valentin (see what we did there!) and Carmen Enciso started Compania Bodeguera de Valenciso in 1998.  The vineyards and cellar are located in Rioja Alta in Ollauri, Spain, a small village 4-km away from Haro and we’ll be opening:

Valenciso Reserva 2012 – £25.99

“2012 was a warm and dry year, when some vines were blocked and stopped ripening the grapes. Surprisingly enough, many wines have retained more freshness than what the natural conditions of the year anticipated. Valenciso’s 2012 Reserva has more stuffing and power than the 2011 and comes from a year that was saved by some rains in September and big temperature contrasts between day and night. It’s very tasty, almost salty (the words of Jean Gonon from St Joseph saying “our wines are salty, to be enjoyed with food. There is no room for sweetness in our wines,” comes to my mind). It’s a modern classical Rioja in the making, still young but showing some development and incipient complexity. These wines develop slowly and nicely in bottle and seem to hit the spot after some eight years after the harvest.”  

93 points Luis Guttierez, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (6/2019)

Now, that should probably be it from us, you finished your burrito a while back now and I’m sure are itching to get on with your afternoon but, just to confirm, yes, you’re right, there’s a very good reason why we haven’t mentioned the Six Nations….

Words About The Winter Olympics And Six Nations

Friday, February 4th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As the world goes Wordle mad, we thought we’d share an anagram somebody was kind enough to share with us: Rogue Partyers = Sue Gray Report!

So, hot on the heels of just writing off £4.3 billion lost to fraud just last week, the government has announced that they will be writing off £8.7 billion on Personal Protective Equipment. Some of this loss is understandable, as stock is revalued at prices that have dropped as the demand has fallen, something that we all recall from GCSE economics.

Perhaps you’ll remember that some was purchased through the so called VIP lanes from Matt’s mate down the pub. We’re not sure if that’s

  1. the £673 million worth of masks that were not fit for purpose
  2. the £750 million’s worth that went of date before it could be used
  3. the £2.6 billion that was spent on “items not suitable for use in the NHS” but which they hope to sell

That’s £13 billion and counting of OUR money that has been wasted rather than aiding economic recovery! As a guide, the 2012 Olympics cost £9.3 billion to stage and led to the regeneration of an enormous swathe of East London with more than 10,000 new homes.

To say we are a little peeved may be perceived as an understatement. It’s not so much the paying top of the market, there was a pandemic after all and somebody always ends up buying at the top, it’s more about finding ourselves on the same side of outrage as the Daily Mail that makes us feel distinctly grumpy.

Earlier this morning we had the opening ceremony for Winter Olympics in Beijing. We’ve seen Team GB in action already of course, as the curling started on Wednesday with the mixed doubles team Bruce Mouat and Jen Dodds carrying the weight of our expectations beating Sweden, Canada and Australia thus far. Rumours that the curling started early because it is so slow are apparently less truthful than a speech by the Prime Minister.

Personally, I’m looking out for Brad Hall and co in the bobsleigh and then Kirsty Muir and Zoe Atkin in the freestyle skiing. Ski jumping with its new mixed event seems even better than ever, no prizes for guessing who’s been watching Ski Sunday! 

At the risk of raising the excitement levels just a little further, the Six Nations starts on Saturday too.  An injury diminished England travel to Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup game, however the injury list has forced Mr Jones to pick some of the names that you’ve all been shouting at your TV for ages, although perhaps not Eliot Daly…. Scotland look injury free so Mr Townsend has full choice and it should be a bit of a game.

Ireland host Wales which I suspect the fans are grateful for given plans to sell weak beer and close bars at half time in Cardiff! I suspect Ireland fancy it, given Wales have an injury list to match England’s.

Italy find themselves on the road on Sunday, facing tournament favourites France at the Stade de France, I don’t fancy their chances if I’m honest!

Whilst we’re on the subject of travelling, in real sports, the European Road Racing Season has started with both the Etoile de Bessèges and Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana taking place this week. Mads Pederson and Remco Evenepoel respectively pickied up early season stage wins.

Perhaps now we should look at tasting some wine this weekend. Given that Italy had a starring role last weekend we’ll open with France occupying the white corner: Reserve de Gassac 2020 (£12.99) an unoaked blend of predominantly Viognier with Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay from 25 year old vines. Soft and ripe on the palate with stone fruits, herbs and a mineral backbone. Very versatile with food, but a fish stew with plenty of garlic would be heavenly.

Spain will roll in with the red; Time Waits For No One (£13.99) is from Jumilla, just a short bike ride from the race. Made from 100% Monastrell it is dark in the glass with earthy black fruits, a touch of smoke and a plumper of a finish.

With that we’re off quicker than your MP can pop a letter in!