Archive for March, 2022


Friday, March 25th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we have been raising a quizzical eyebrow for many reasons.

Firstly, it’s our game face when we’re out tasting and we’ve been to four this week. You need a game face when tasting in order to avoid any embarrassment when a winemaker reveals the price somewhere around double what you were expecting for the wine you have just written “Meh” beside in that tasting booklet. It also helps to hide that the wine just taken on by a supplier with great fanfare is not coming anywhere near your shelf regardless of its reputation.

Then we raised an eyebrow at the Chancellor’s Spring Statement. Much was made by the press of the 5p cut in fuel duty, indeed Sunak even pretended to fill up a Kia Rio at a Sainsbury’s petrol station for a photo op.  It is, as usual, a smoke and mirrors exercise that will make no difference to the average family. If we assume the average driver gets about 10 miles for their litre of fuel, and on average drives around 10 000 miles a year then they will save a whopping £50. In the meantime their gas and electric bill has just risen by around £800.

We raised an eyebrow at news that David Cameron volunteers at his local foodbank a day or two every week. In 2004 the Trussell trust ran only two foodbanks, indeed many of us had never heard of them. According to the House of Commons Library, in February 2021 there were over 2200 food banks with the Trussell Trust running 1300 of them. David Cameron was elected in 2005.

We raised an eyebrow (we’re in danger of cramping any minute!) at the Volta a Catalunya as Mattias Skjelmose crashed on a descent, falling 10 metres down a ravine, climbed back up shouting “ I’m OK just give me a bike” got on that new bike to ride the last 58km and finished the stage in the top 10. Adrenaline is a powerful force eh?

An eyebrow was raised as we sat enjoying the sunshine in the garden sipping our morning coffee, we’ve not even put the clocks forward yet and we were basking in 18˚C. Muesli tastes so much better in the sunshine, doesn’t it? We’ll take this while we can, even at the risk of Wayne’s shorts arriving earlier than usual.

An eyebrow was raised as the head was shaken witnessing Joe Root go for a duck as the Final Test starts with an England collapse in Grenada. Being rescued by the biggest number 10 and 11 10th wicket stand since 1885 is probably not the look they were going for.

Whilst we massage our foreheads and relax our eyebrows into a less alarming position we thought we should open some wine for tasting.

We’ll stroll down a road less travelled for the white, Adobe Gewurztraminer 2020(£10.49) is an organic example hailing Rapel Valley in Chile. We think it’s just the ticket for this spring weather we’re enjoying.

Red wise we’ll visit Puglia for a glass of Verso Salento Rosso 2020 (£14.99). It is a rather winning blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo, Malvasia Nera with notes of plums and raisins nicely balanced with a hint of mocha in the finish. We are assured by the winemaker it is a great meditation wine, so here we are looking after your wellbeing.

Don’t forget the clocks go forward Saturday night so that late one may be later than you think!

Is it Spring?

Friday, March 18th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to another Friday in Wimbledon Park.  This week we’ve noticed the sun getting out of bed earlier and hanging around for longer.  The Sahara was nice enough to send some greetings sprinkled all over the car and there is a reasonable risk that the keenest of us might light the barbecue this weekend.

We finally found something we could all smile about in Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe finally making it home after many false starts over the last six years. Like many, we suspect her ordeal may have been considerably shorter if Johnson had been on top of his brief as Foreign Secretary.

He was again in full diplomatic mode this week as he visited Saudi Arabia hoping to strike a deal on some cheap oil.  Disappointed to find the champagne was less free flowing than when he’s normally at work, he came away empty handed without even a cake ambush.  Stories that the Saudis raised worries about the state of democracy in the UK and the loss of the right to protest could be wide of the mark.

Meanwhile, in Rwanda, a bat that has been missing for 40 years was rediscovered in Nyungwe Park.  After being scolded for being late for supper, the pair of Hill’s Horseshoe bats were measured and their call recorded to make it easier to identify them in future and then released. We’re glad to see they were shy rather than extinct and hope that the experts are able to keep them that way.

At the bottom of a quarry in Midlothian, Skyrora, an Edinburgh based rocket company, open the UK’s largest rocket engine testing facility.  It seems the space race is alive and well in the UK with spaceports now being developed in Wales and Cornwall as well as Scotland.  Call me old fashioned but wouldn’t pooling the resources into one site have been a good idea?

This week wouldn’t be complete without a cultural section mentioning that the Rolling Stones will be playing Hyde Park this summer celebrating their 60th Anniversary.  They are often a feature of our musical algorithm and tickets are on sale now.  Talking of tickets, Sigur Ros are coming to Brixton for a couple of nights in November and the tickets went on sale this morning.

On the sports front, we’ve had a mixed bag at the Cheltenham Festival this week; Alex is a tiny bit up and Wayne about flat, which is weird when it’s over hurdles!  Wayne’s had a farthing each way on Protekorat in the Gold Cup and also for Peter Sagan to win Milan-San Remo on Saturday.  It’s also Super Saturday for the Six Nations with Wales v Italy at 14.15, Ireland v Scotland at 16.45 and then France v England at 20.00.  We’re not sure how we’re going to fit all that in but will certainly be giving it a go and we haven’t even considered the cricket!

On the table this weekend we’ll be visiting our chums down under in Western Australia.

Flametree Wines have consistently maintained a five star rating from James Halliday since 2011 and we’ve long been fans of Cliff Royle’s winemaking (we’ve even had him pop in the shop!) we think he makes really tasty wines. We’ll have their 2020 Estate Chardonnay (£18.99) and the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (£19.99), so why not come down and sample their tastiness.


Wayne & Alex

PS  Monday 21st March we will be closed as we have several tastings to attend – many apologies for any inconvenience, perhaps grab an extra bottle on Saturday between games!

Endurance, Six Nations and Cheltenham

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Oooh, doesn’t life just get jollier with every week that passes!

Since last we met we have seen more lives lost in Ukraine, more people being driven out of their homes, more oligarchs sanctioned and still Russia attacks whilst days have turned into weeks in the ‘special military operation’ that should never have happened.

Further to our contemplations regarding the status of Mr Abramovich last week, it seems our words didn’t fall on deaf ears and he too now faces a bit of a squeeze – probably this won’t be quite as effective as it might have been a week ago but then what do we know…

We’ve also managed to lose not one but two famous Australian cricketers, the younger of whom could have been at school with us – just goes to show it can happen to anyone of us at any time, so seize the day everyone.

Wayne returned from his abortive search for the pet detective on Fuerteventura to the happy news that the ship he mislaid in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica 107 years ago has been found in pretty good nick.  However, he has decided to leave it there, since nowadays he is less about the boat and more about the bike, which is helpful when you live in a two bed flat and I’m not sure Mrs Wayne would be that pleased with a Bay Class Tugboat in the front garden considering her usual choice of Icebreaker is the trifecta of gin, tonic and lime…

What has come to our notice is that whilst the headlines have rightly been focused on the developing situation in eastern Europe, there is now a lot less about Covid that we can see and, more worryingly, the whole Partygate thing seems to have disappeared into the inside pages – we do hope Boris isn’t going to get away with this purely because of a change in media focus.

Sport can be a great distraction at times like these and we have an array of distractions on the horizon.  The England Cricket Team, post Broad and Anderson seem to be toiling towards a draw at the moment, although we can never underestimate our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Twickenham this weekend sees the Irish in town, with a team that now sees Jonny Sexton back at the helm.  Bizarrely, they have dropped Mack Hansen out of the squad but the good news for England fans is that they have brought James Lowe instead, plus his leaky defence.  England had a couple of Covid cases earlier in the week but the backing of Harry Randall at scrum half and the removal of Eliot Daly to the bench certainly pleased Wayne.

Then we have the Cheltenham Festival starting again next week, Wayne’s tips so far are limited to drinking Guinness and betting on an Irish horse – seems like a decent each-wayer to me!

We’ve teamed up with the lovely folks @posta_hug on Instagram and have a drop box here if anyone would like to send a message or letter of solidarity to a child, adult or parent in Ukraine. Check out their page for full details.

And now wine, because that’s really what we’re here for, and the tasting of it.

Today we’ll be opening Domaine de Morin-Langaran ‘Cuvée Caroline’ Picpoul de Pinet 2021 (£13.99) perennially popular around here and frankly we’re glad to see it back after the winery ran out before this was ready. We find it crisp and dry, with nice fruit and a touch of minerality, but why not come and taste for yourself?

For the red we’ll zip over to Marche in Italy, Belisario Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2020 (£15.99) is a medium bodied red from the town of Morro d’Alba. Flavour wise we’re looking at fresh dark fruits, a touch of floral character and maybe even a hint of cinnamon at the end. It’s weight and freshness make an awesome partner to salami and cold cuts.

I need a drink, come and join me.

Friday, March 4th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I have to admit, my heart’s not in it this week, certainly there is no humour to be found.

At least with Covid there was/is a sense that we are all in it together, irrespective of nationality, geographical location or belief.  We are all fighting against a disease that has touched all corners of the earth, all age groups and we all miss someone who is no longer with us as a result.  We have suffered the frustrations and restrictions to life, all the while knowing that this was for the global good.

Putin the Sociopath has no sense of camaraderie or benevolence toward his fellow beings.  However, by all accounts, he is terrified of Covid and has taken many extreme measures to avoid infection by isolating himself from all but the closest aides, which certainly cannot have helped his delusions.  The man is a coward, ordering cowardly attacks on innocent people and he needs to be stopped right now.

Apologies for the dark thoughts but frankly what we should all be doing right now is embracing each other and looking forward to some brighter days, not bombing the $^!£ out of our neighbours.

Meanwhile, in London, all the oligarchs are scrambling, liquidating assets and trying to get cash out of the country. 

Or perhaps not, in the case of Roman Abramovich, who has instructed his team to ‘set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.’    Sounds pretty good doesn’t it and a large part of me wants this to be a grand gesture of faith and support to the Ukrainian people and a massive two fingers to Moscow.  However, a little bit of me wonders what ‘net proceeds’ means and how much can be winnowed away as I guess that charitable assets might not be frozen; it also wonders how rich he really is if he can write of all the Chelsea loans as well; is there so much more stashed away that losing a few billion here and there is just a cost of business if he ends up not being sanctioned and keeps his assets unfrozen?

Time will tell.  As I say, I want to believe Roman is doing the right thing (just to clarify my football allegiances lie in North London) but I fear I might be disappointed…. Time will tell.

Possibly the most startling news this week was that Gav ‘hide of a rhino’ Williamson is to get a knighthood.  Really?  I’ve attached a link below to an article from The Guardian last September which clearly summarises all the reasons he should never work again, let alone ascend to the House of Lords.  It’s a toxic farce, there are legions of people who should be ahead of him in the queue for ermine lined robes; however I imagine they aren’t bothered by such fripperies, being keener on saving lives, protecting the vulnerable or teaching our kids, whilst desperately chasing a lie in and a day off.

I need a drink, come and join me.

I’ve got a couple of wines from Chile open – oft overlooked, which is a crying shame.

Aromo Viognier 2020 – £9.99 – from the Maule Valley, one of Chile’s traditional wine growing areas, just about 250km south of Santiago.  There’s not a great deal of Viognier planted there but when you taste this you’ll wonder why.  We really rate this wine and have been selling it for over 10 years now, one way or another as it is consistently great value, great quality with lovely peachy-apricot fruit characters and a nice crisp finish. 

From the same producer, we have the Aromo Carménère 2018 – £9.99 – a treat if you like a Merlot but fancy something with a bit of added spice and interest.  Carménère is almost Chile’s own grape, it having been lost to most of the rest of the world but originating in Bordeaux.  Interestingly, through DNA testing, they have found that Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère all share the same parent – Cabernet Franc – one to remember for the pub quiz on Monday.  Anyway, this one has some lovely damson spiced fruit notes, a medium weight with just a touch of oak lurking in the background.

And now I must be gone but I will leave you with some words of wisdom from Frederick Coolidge, a professor at the University of Colorado who has studied the personality traits of autocratic leaders that shows us what we are dealing with in Putin:

“They tend to have an excessive fear of death or infection… They fear losing control, they fear losing everything and have a need to control everything…. And they are not always rational about it.”

Send help.