Archive for May, 2022

Private Jets, Parties and other Problems

Friday, May 27th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, the Sue Gray report delivered everything we expected but appears to have changed nothing. We have a child’s swing and slide damaged in the Downing Street garden and people leaving (by the back door) after 3.oo am on the morning of Prince Philip’s funeral. Evidence not of a work event but just one of the examples of evenings where a group of people properly strapped it on leaving empty bottles scattered across desks, red wine on walls and even sick for the cleaners to deal with.

They say you can tell a lot about people by the way they treat their staff.

But it’s a work event. In our experience, leaving do’s aren’t work events held in offices, they are held after work at the pub, something that wasn’t allowed. Funerals, surely the ultimate leaving do, were restricted to less people than those attending these leaving do’s. Anyway, we’ve at least had it confirmed that the moral vacuum at the centre of government is indeed a moral vacuum at the centre of government.

I suspect it won’t be the last we hear of it but perhaps for this week it will be.

In completely unrelated news, the Treasury and Mr Sunak have announced a windfall tax on energy companies that was voted against by all Conservative MP’s, just a week ago. The money will at least be spent on easing the cost of living crisis for low income families. The distant part of me that remembers how inflation works does wonder how increased government spending will do anything to ease it.

I guess we just continue kicking cans down the road.

I don’t know about you but we’ve had dreadful trouble hiring a private jet this week. It turns out they are all in Switzerland as the great and the good are all assembled in Davos. As you’d expect, the discussion has been dominated by the war in Ukraine. Of note though, is that the OECD sponsored deal to tax multinationals has been postponed to 2024, another can kicked down the road.

Bernie Ecclestone got arrested in Brazil this week for having a gun in his bag when it was X-rayed at security before he boarded a private jet to Switzerland. He said that whilst it was his gun, he didn’t realise it was in his bag. I have a certain amount of sympathy for this explanation having lost a corkscrew under very similar circumstances.

In other news, Top Gun Maverick is at the cinema, I’m sure we’re all going aren’t we? I’m expecting Primark to be full of flying jackets and jumpsuits too.

With last week’s news of no ATP ranking points being awarded at Wimbledon this year, we find ourselves agreeing with Andy Murray. Nobody watching cares about the points. We don’t remember that the winner got awarded 2000 points; we remember that they won Wimbledon. That said,  it amused us enormously to discover the possibility that even if Djokovic plays and wins at Wimbledon this year Medvedev could still become World No1 as Djokovic loses the 2000 points awarded for winning last year!

RideLondon is this weekend, heading out on its new route through Essex.

If you’re in a car, expect some frustrating road closures and a fair amount of traffic through Parliament Square along the Embankment, out through Epping Forest to almost Chelmsford and back. If you’re on a bike, expect some awesome road closures and no traffic through Parliament Square along the Embankment, out through Epping Forest to almost Chelmsford and back!

Jubilee Week Opening Hours

Due to Her Maj. interfering with the natural fall of Bank Holidays, we are operating a bit differently next week.


TUESDAY 31ST MAY            NOON – 7 PM



FRIDAY 3RD JUNE              NOON – 6 PM



Tasting This Weekend

We’ve opened the white suitcase and found Veritable Jurancon Sec 2019 (£10.99), a crisp and dry bottle of deliciousness from the foothills of the Pyrénées. It turns out that the red arrived in a box to the back door fresh from the hills inland of Tarragona. Marco Abella Mas Mallola 2018 (£27.99) is from Porrera in Priorat, where the family has been involved in wine since the 15th century.

Like our peers in Downing Street we’re off  now, out of the back door and will assume complete responsibility!


Summer Sippin’ Happens So Fast

Friday, May 20th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As often happens around about 5pm on a Thursday evening, flat panic engulfed us as we realised that we didn’t have a clue what to write in the email for Friday.

In the absence of further fines for Boris, in the absence of Carrie, in the absence of a verdict in the Wagatha court case and in the absence of the much anticipated Sue Gray report, what on earth were we going to write about?

The one glimmer on the horizon was the news that an ordinary couple from Gloucester won an extraordinary £184 million on a lucky dip lottery ticket – lucky them.  This windfall apparently doesn’t make them as rich as Rishi Sunak (£200 million) but richer than Adele (£153 million), Wayne Rooney (£136 million) and Jamie Vardy (£10 million) – not sure why this information is useful, perhaps another titbit for this weekend’s dinner party small talk but also a timely reminder that ‘it could be you!’

So, with the mainstream news sites failing to deliver, we had to delve into the dark world of trade publications and this week Drinks Retailing News (Championing the Off-trade since 1863) has been our champion.  An article written this week, ‘The scoop on summer drinks’, piqued our interest as the journalist instructed us on what should be in our glasses this summer and happily we concurred with many of her suggestions.

First suggestion: sour beer.  We’ve been championing the sour beers for years, particularly the lambic beers from Belgium but very few people have listened.  In fairness, we haven’t shouted too loudly because we really like them but there are often supply issues which means they regularly go out of stock.  However, currently we have two sour beers in situ, one Belgian and one from Wandsworth: Lindemans Gueuze and Belleville Spring Break Gose.  The Gueuze is a delicious drop in a wee 25cl bottle – lots of texture on the palate and an almost cider like malic character on the finish.  The Spring Break on the other hand, is all about tangy grapefruit – if you’ve ever been a fan of lager and lime then this should be your beer of choice.

Second suggestion: cloudy cider.  We’ve been selling the litre bottles of Kerisac Cidre Breton ever since Wayne was in short trousers and certainly we have seen a noticeable uplift in its popularity in the last 6 months.  A traditional French cider at the lighter end of cloudiness, this has a richer mouthfeel than some of the tarter English versions and is an excellent foil to anything pork.

Third suggestion: Vermouth and Aperitivo.  Oh my god,  another area we’ve been banging on about whilst you looked at us with a ‘yeah, right, if you like’ look on your faces.  As discussed, we all love a Negroni but if you just fancy a cheeky quick pre-dinner lift, then these are your boys.  Bodegas Martinez Lacuesta Vermouth Reserva is a white vermouth, aged in Acacia barrels and even works nicely as a digestivo – it’s made by some very good Rioja producers who Alex visited a few years ago and has been a regular on our shelves since.  Antica Distilleria Quaglia Berto Bitter Liquore Amaro is a mouthful to say and bit of a palate pleaser too.  Bitter, dry but with a tinge of sweetness and a nice stopping point between the bitterness of a Campari and the stickiness of an Aperol!  Finally, Mondino Aperitivo is Alex’s absolute #1 tipple.  The Diffords Guide describe it thus “Made to an original Italian recipe, this German organic bitter aperitif is made in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.  Ingredients include bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and alpine spring water”.  Try it, we think you’ll like it!

Next up we have Tequila.  We’ve definitely seen a resurgence in interest in the Mexican firewater.  Casa Noble Tequila Reposado is definitely not firewater.  Made from organic blue agave grown in Jalisco, aged in french oak for 364 days, the maximum allowed for a Reposado.  This really is a fine sipping Tequila, really smooth with agave, citrus, cinnamon and almond notes and a wonderful clean finish.  Not the same thing at all, but worth mentioning, is our newly listed Amores Verde Mezcal.  Organically grown 8 year old Espadin agave is cooked over 3 different woods giving us a real complexity.  Naturally fermented with its own yeast and then double distilled this is a new favourite, the smokiness adds texture to the clean, fresh spirit.

At this point our pal at Drinks Retailing News realises she has been a little too esoteric in her suggestions for summer and, realising who her paymasters are, recommends Rosé wine and canned cocktails.  I think you already know that rosé is a summery drink and canned cocktails are not an area we have dug into too deeply – however, if one of our chaps were to come up with a posh G & T in a tin, we’d be all over it!

So, as I draw towards the end of an email focused on summer drinking and the rain continues to teem down, our focus moves more towards what we’re going to taste tonight and tomorrow.

Wayne has made the selections this week and suggests Dog Point Chardonnay 2018 – £27.99 as our white option.  From Marlborough, New Zealand this is a classic rich style with stonefruits, citrus character and a nutty touch of oak.  The palate is crisp, with layers of orchard and citrus fruits balanced with the oak notes providing a great mouthfeel.  Really quite long in the finish and really quite delicious.

His red option comes from closer to home, northern Spain to be precise.  Celler de Capçanes Mas Collet 2019 – £16.49 is the wine we have in mind.  Once you’ve crossed the French Border, skirted around Barcelona and hit the outskirts of Tarragona, take a hard right into the hills and you will hit the region of Montsant after about 20 minutes.  Its relative proximity to the French border means that Syrah and Grenache are still very much in charge here but not without a fine showing from Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aged for 9 months in barrique this is deliciously rich, smooth, balanced, polished and frankly, totally moreish.

So do come and join us for a taste, perhaps treat yourselves to an aperitivo or at least borrow an umbrella! 

Potato Milk, Pina Colada and One Hundred Fines

Friday, May 13th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Firstly, an apology.  Having predicted a lovely weekend in our last missive I was aghast to see rain drops descending gently at 11.30 on Saturday morning.  Thankfully the rain stopped falling but the clouds remained and made for a rather drab Saturday afternoon, so sorry.  We’ll stick to predicting the horses that definitely won’t win their races and avoid dabbling with meteorology in future.

So, we’re now up to 100 fines issued by the Met to those fine folk in Downing Street and its environs.  Plenty has been said about all this already but blimey, that’s a whole bucket load of socialising going on during lockdown whilst you were all stuck at home with fractious husbands/children/dogs and goldfish – bonkers.  All we need now is for Keir and Angela to get a ticket and the wheels may well come off completely.

However, the question on everyone’s lips should be whilst Boris was doing cheese, wine and the occasional cake and Keir was doing beer and curry what was Ed Davey up to?  Pork pie and a pint?  Pina colada and a poke bowl?  Prosecco and twiglets?  I think we should be told…

Whilst we’re on the subject of cocktails, apparently the Pina Colada is now the third most popular cocktail in the UK after Negroni and Mojito.  We learnt this having read the latest Waitrose Drinks Report 2022 which says that classic retro cocktails such as Blue Lagoon, Tequila Sunrise and Mai Tai are back in fashion, with Sangria holding the spot of the most searched for cocktail recipe last summer.  Having read this we further researched and discovered the Pina Colada news in an article in the Guardian from 2 days ago, so it must be true.  Not sure where this leaves us intellectually and as we don’t sell white rum, pineapples or coconut cream it certainly doesn’t help us much commercially either but at least you all now have a conversation starter for this weekend’s dinner party!

Back to the Waitrose report though.  They also revealed their 10 most popular drinks choices currently and as ever the findings don’t create many ripples.  Their most popular drink was their own brand Pinot Grigio, followed by some beers, Prosecco, a cider, then a 10% Sauvignon Blanc from South Australia followed by more beers.  No red wine in the top ten and no rosé either, for the moment!

Mind you, a report published in October last year by these jokers also stated that milk derived from potatoes would be one of 2022’s biggest food trends.  “Low in sugar and saturated fat, it’s set to dominate coffee shop menus in the coming months” the report said.  So there you go, 10% Aussie Sauvignon and potato milk on your next Waitrose order please.

With the world going to hell in a handcart under the combined influences of pandemic and Putin, it’s good to see the worlds of film and football still manage to inhabit that realm between reality and outer space.  The Amber Heard/Johnny Depp court case has been going on for a while and neither party is looking terribly innocent or indeed terribly happy.  Not to be bested, the Vardy/Rooney court case kicked off this week in the High Court, where Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for libel.  Now these two ladies are famous WAGS, I think we all know of the story dubbed Wagatha Christie but what we hadn’t realised the costs involved.  It’s estimated that each side has spent over £1 million on legal costs and that the potential payout would most likely not exceed £40,000.  Oh, and even the winner will have to pay a chunk of her legal costs so actually the only winners are the lawyers!  It’s a car crash but it gives a huge glimpse of what life is like in the bubble that is Premiership Football and once again goes to show that being uber-rich doesn’t necessarily make you are a terribly nice person!

Anyway, we shouldn’t go off at the deep end about all this, we should just be thankful for what we’ve got.  In this instance we’ve got a shop full of wine and some lovely customers who seem to enjoy buying it from us, even if they have to put up with our ranty Friday emails.  So, with a view to emptying our shelves a bit further, we’ll crack open a couple of bottles this evening and pretend we’re hosting a housing committee meeting in Whitehall!

To continue with our exploration of things more esoteric, the white this week will be Lyrarakis Voila Assyrtiko 2021 – £15.99.  Located in the mountainous commune of Alagni in Crete, Domaine Lyrarakis stays true to local winemaking traditions.  The domaine focuses on indigenous varieties, taking them from obscurity and driving them in a more modern direction, while still retaining a clear sense of place.  Its style focuses on pure varietal character, precision and supple texture. Grown at 580 metres’ altitude in the Voila vineyard there is a definite floral character, refreshing minerality and chalky texture to this delicious wine.

The red is less esoteric but no less delicious – a bit of a staple in our wine racks at home in fact.  Barton Rouge 2015/16 – £9.99 isfrom Walker Bay in South Africa and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot.  Dark ruby in the glass this is a rich and fruit driven wine with dark brambly fruits and a touch of spice, yet without too much tannin to get in the way of the fun.  Works well with everything from pizza to steak so it should probably be in your rack too!

And that’s it from us – do come and say hello as the North London Derby last night has led to a bit of a frosty atmosphere chez PV!!

Is Boris more sludge metal or crust punk? Discuss

Friday, May 6th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to a sunny Friday and, with potential for a rain free weekend ahead of us, I thought I’d jinx it all by opening some rosé this evening on the tasting table… so, when you’re standing under a brolly tomorrow afternoon watching under 13 cricket whilst wearing wellies with shorts (a very British nod to high fashion), you’ll know who to blame!

Anyway, before we get tucked in to all things pink, what’s news?   

Well, it’s been a good week for:

Wayne – as he is finally off on a well-earned cycle extravaganza in the Balearics, apparently a key part of his training for challenges later in the season.  Not sure if he means cycling, dancing or drinking beer challenges but I am sure he is working hard on all three.

Boris Johnson – yeah, who’d have thunk it.  Whilst here in the UK many feel he has outstayed his welcome it would appear that in Ukraine they can’t get enough of him.  Fresh from having a street named after him in Fontanka, near Odesa last month, it was announced yesterday by the mayor of the city of Vasylkiv, that their “new embankment on the Stugna River … will now have the name of a great friend of Ukraine: Prime Minister Boris Johnson.”

Shareholders in Shell and BP as both companies post record profits

Real Madrid – showing us all how important it is to play the full 90+ minutes and to not start easing up when the clock starts ticking down

However, someone’s good week is always someone else’s bad one:

Will Smith – the ongoing fallout from his Oscars performance leads to Dave Chappelle receiving an uninvited armed guest on stage during his act

Boris – Mr Becker this time.  Not only given a prison sentence but now facing the distinct possibility of deportation – not how we thought Boom Boom’s fairytale would end

Golf – as Lee Westwood (estimated net worth £40 million) becomes another golfer keen to play for Saudi money and thus becoming an apologist for them.  Lee, I get that other sports have taken their cash too and I get that playing golf is your job but really, no one is making you do this

Manchester City – showing us all how important it is to play the full 90+ minutes and to not start easing up when the clock starts ticking down

Wandsworth Tories – not sure they saw that coming

Hay fever sufferers – high pollen count for the next few days, you can almost see it in the air – Wayne, stay away!

For the rest of us, I imagine it has been a reasonably decent week, shorter than some thanks to the Bank Holiday and finishing off with a bit of sunshine, what’s not to like!

Anyway, at the top I suggested opening some rosé, who’s with me?  I am going to start the season with our perennial best seller and a wine many of you know and love but not all of you have tasted, Château de L’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ Côtes de Provence Cru Classé – £15.99.  The Chateau is a 400 year old vineyard in the heart of Provence.  Its red soils are rich in minerals, giving it an edge on the quality stakes amongst its neighbours.  This edge was recognised in 1955 when the estate was designated “Cru Classé”.  A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish.  We think it is the perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with the Sunday papers and a deck chair!

Oh, and did I mention we also offer 6 bottles for £80….

Whilst lots of people like rosé, it doesn’t rock everybody’s world.  For those of you who rock to a different beat, I’m going to open Juliénas-Chaintré Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ – £10.99.  There’s been a quiet revolution going on in Beaujolais, some of the smartest burgundy winemakers have been buying up parcels of land, Co-operatives have been merging and there has been a quality revamp too.  This wine is from the villages of Jullié and Emeringes, and grown on the sandy granitic soils that produce the best Gamay.  Tender, round and fruity as you’d expect from a pure expression of the grape variety and very tasty lightly chilled at lunchtime!

Think that’s about it from us for now – I just want to leave you with some further fruits of my meanderings into the worldwide web.  Whilst googling Messrs Johnson and Becker I kept on being offered details of a Japanese band named BORIS, who by all accounts have been active since the earlier 90’s and have a varied genre of musical influences, to wit:

experimental music, experimental rock, noise music, noise rock, experimental/avant-garde metal, doom metal, post-metal, drone metal, sludge metal, psychedelic music, psychedelic rock, psychedelic metal,  stoner rock, sludge metal, drone music, old-school industrial music, ambient music, acid rock, garage rock, shoegazing, dream pop, J-pop, crust punk

Now, I’m sure that all you people who are far funnier than me could come up with some amazing jokes about The Johnson and The Becker using the tools provided above, so over to you, Hugh!