Archive for June, 2022

Wimbledon to Glastonbury

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We saw that they found a spare seat on a flight to Rwanda for the PM- the bad news is it wasn’t one of the Home Office’s special tickets, he will be coming back. Perhaps Rwanda is the new fridge, as it appears he went there to announce he wouldn’t resign after the dreadful showing at the by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton. Honiton has returned Conservatives since 1841. Save the man, destroy the party!

The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that we’ve adorned the window with tennis paraphernalia as The Championship starts at the All England Club just across the park. We’ve seen a few of the cars around and are expecting a nice buzz about the area for the next week or two. No world ranking points on offer but who cares, right, it’s Wimbledon!

As an aside, Wednesday in 2003 a 17 year old Rafa Nadal made his Grand Slam debut. Wednesday in 2022, he beat Stan Wawrinka at Hurlingham.

This weekend also bears witness to Diana Ross making her Glastonbury debut. Sunday @ 16.00 on the Pyramid Stage, since you ask. There are some of the lesser known names worth checking out like the Ishmael Ensemble from Bristol, as well as the better known names like Paul McCartney from Liverpool, who’s on the Pyramid stage Saturday @ 21.30.

One that really surprised us was Gong (tonight @23.00 on the Glade stage). Much as a return to the 1970’s is very much in vogue, we had no idea they were still going. For the uninitiated they are a bit jazz, a bit psychedelic and a bit space rock but quite a lot prog. They were one of the first bands signed to Virgin records, and very much what you’d expect to catch a sighting of on an Old Grey Whistle Test repeat on BBC4.

Anyway, there’s something at Glastonbury for everyone so turn the Sonos up and pull up the armchair.

In wine news, just when you think the government couldn’t say, or do, anything more surprisingly stupid Jacob Rees-Mogg has parked up his horse and cart, doffed his titfer and suggested that a rule that requires sparkling wine to be sold in glass bottles could be ditched, allowing plastic bottles instead. That’ll be the glass bottles invented in England in the 17th century. Described by Christopher Merrett and produced by Sir Robert Mansell’s factories in Newcastle. You’d think he’d be up to speed on the subject given the era!

I guess we could just roll up with an empty R. Whites bottle? Then we could sneak down to the fridge in the middle of the night – I’m a secret Sussex wine drinker….

Something else going back to the 1970’s is the film business. In July, watch out for The Railway Children Return with a rather more grown up Jenny Agutter the only member of the original cast. Let’s hope it’s not derailed by any strikes.

Tasting This Weekend

We thought we’d pop over to Piemonte in Northern Italy this week and open up a pair of Poveros. Arriving in the white Cinquecento will be Tenuta Fratelli Povero Roero Arneis 2020 (£14.99) the first vines were planted in 1948 and the family are producing a fabulous medium bodied white with mineral and stone fruit character.

Rolling up on the red Colnago Super Saronni will be Cantine Povero Langhe 2017 (£13.99) an impressively velvety red that’s a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon and a real versatile drop on the food matching front.


So Much Lettuce

Friday, June 17th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

First up, please don’t start moaning about how hot it is. 

We know full well that you are working from home today, dressed for the beach rather than the office and that lunch will be late, light, salady and accompanied by a nice chilled glass of Rosé whilst you gently let the computer ease into standby mode… even Alex has succumbed to the comfort a pair of shorts can bring and there is every likelihood that later on a gentle loosening of his necktie will accompany the unbuttoning of his cardigan.

Is this summer?  Can we trust it?  Probably as much as we can trust anything these days but let’s not go down that road today shall we, just enjoy what is in front of us for a bit.

As I think many of us have seen, letters containing unexpected news have been fluttering back and forth in Westminster recently but who knows what the consequences will be?  For those of you who have been too busy playing golf in Spain and as a result have been on a news avoidance scheme, let me fill you in. 

All is not well in the Palace of Westminster (Lords). 

It would seem that, according to a piece in Open Democracy, the members of the House of Lords have been writing letters of distinct disgruntlement regarding the quality of the food and drink available to them at work.  Whilst, at first glance, these may seem to be very much First World problems, I’m sure you’ll forgive them when you know all the facts.  First we need to understand that the 768 members sitting on the red leather banquettes are not paid to be Peers, they do it for no recompense whatsoever, save the miserly £323 daily attendance rate.  No show, no dough – however if they do show up for every sitting the attendance rate is somewhere in the vicinity of £50,000 per annum but I feel we digress from the main issue here – the poor quality of the food and drink.  Here are some of the complaints:

“There are only so many smoked salmon or prawn and crayfish salads one can take week after week”

“limited range of pre-packaged sandwiches”

“Could the sandwiches be presented on a plate with a bit of salad rather than in cardboard?”

“so much lettuce”

“very little to eat other than a box of 2 pre-packed salads”

“The current offering of salads leaves much to be desired….. I realise you need to make a profit but the margin on your smoked salmon seems extortionate.”

“Both the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc are really poor quality… Can something be done?”

I know, bit Kafkaesque innit, the poor en-titled lambs!

Oh, and while we’re at it, all is not well in the Palace of Westminster (Commons) either as another of Boris’s Ethics Advisors resigns but, to be honest, we’re running out of energy a bit when it comes to the PM and his affairs.

In the wide world outside of Westminster, on Tuesday we saw both the zenith and the nadir of life as an English sports fan when our cricketers somehow managed to canter to victory in the last day of the Test Match whilst, but a few hours later, uninspired by the cricketers antics, our footballers lost 4-0 to Hungary, the worst home defeat for over 90 years! 

There was also a bit of exciting wine news – in fact ‘exciting’ is probably overpromising but interesting to us, nonetheless. 

From Wednesday, Sussex Sparkling Wine was granted official Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the Ministry for Farming, Fisheries and Food.  A PDO is similar to the appellations we find in Europe, whereby, particular items that are produced, processed and prepared in a specific region, using agreed techniques and ingredients are allowed to display PDO on their labels.  Whilst not an absolute guarantee of quality, it is a guarantee of provenance and a reminder to any producers who perhaps might be making wine in the west country using grapes grown in Essex  that their geography is catching up with them!

Excitingly for us, Bolney Estate is one of the wineries that qualify for this Sussex Sparkling Wine PDO and, whilst it’s not on the labels just yet, hopefully we all know how good it is already.

However, if you don’t know how good it is already, all is not lost because in celebration we will be opening a bottle of The Bolney Estate Foxhole Vineyard Brut Reserve NV – £29.00 for tasting this evening and tomorrow, so come and have a slurp.

To complement the bubbles we’ll crack open a bottle of barbecue red because, in spite of any weather forecasts to the contrary, we trust our instincts and expect any rain to happen between 3am and 9am on Sunday morning, skedaddling well before brunch – you can quote Wayne on this, he’s an expert. 

The red we’ll crack will be a bit of a treat too – The Chocolate Block 2020 – £23.99 (6 for £126)

Hailing from Swartland, South Africa this is a blend of 73% Syrah, 11% Grenache, 8% Cinsault, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon & 1% Viognier, predominantly sourced from the Porseleinberg and Goldmine farms.  The cold winter of 2019 and remarkably moderate summer of 2020 have set us up for a really impressive vintage of Chocolate Block with wonderful poise and texture.  The wine is focused and elegant, with fresh yet integrated acidity and fine-grained tannins, adding to exceptional structure.  Black currant and milk chocolate linger on a silky finish – bring a large glass!

That’s about it for us for now – Father’s Day on Sunday – I’m hoping that someone buys me a lie in and a bacon sarnie but I realise that such things might be out of stock already!

World Gin Day

Friday, June 10th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we learned that 211 Conservative either think that the Prime Minister is doing a good job or that they hadn’t actually listened to the question. Mad Nads set the record straight with a live to TV intervention that’s stated, amongst other things, we were at war with Ukraine, and that Boris had to survive, because donors had given more than £80m to the party coffers.

Perhaps the question is what about him that makes them more likely to donate? Is it the money flagged in the New York Times as alleged money laundering? If we found out would we have to involve the coppers?

Did you see any of the comments after the vote and wonder how the Speaker’s investigation into Class A’s on the parliamentary estate was coming along? Anyway, we’ve all been assured that it was a resounding victory and that the public just wants the government to deliver.

Deliver what exactly we’re not sure, we have world beating petrol prices already, levelling down seems more likely than up, and the chances of all those new hospitals being delivered is less likely than Elvis Presley performing at Wimbledon Theatre on Saturday.  Meanwhile Domino’s have confirmed they wouldn’t put the government in charge of delivering tonight’s pizza.

Whilst all this high stakes political drama was happening in Westminster, the real world launched itself into eight weeks of Love Island. We can’t claim to have any expertise in this area, but understand that it, too, is high stakes drama set in a villa in Mallorca. The dress code is swimmers and bikinis and at the end one lucky couple are declared the winners.

In other news, the PGA Tour has suspended members for playing this week’s Saudi funded Liv Golf tournament at the Centurion Club.  Not sure that rates as a Nice One Centurion! Already high on the controversial list we suspect this one will run and run…

Flushed with success at Lord’s the England Test Cricket team pitches up at Trent Bridge today to face NZ in the second test, let’s see what this ground brings us eh? Pitch is a touch on the green side I understand.

In real sports, the Critérium de Dauphiné currently has Wout Van Aert in the yellow jersey and Ethan Hayter in the young riders white jersey. I do find it slightly disturbing that I’ve got a couple of bottles of wine that’s older than him!

Next week we have the Tour de Suisse rolling in and if a nod is as good as a wink, keep an eye out for Hugh Carthy! Tour de France time is truly creeping up on us!

Saturday is World Gin Day so we’ll take this opportunity to highlight our offering…

Eclectic Gin Society – Original Blend (£35.00)distilled at Kinrara Distillery in the Cairngorm National Park, this is a cracking London style gin distilled in small batches.

Hepple Gin (£38.00) – our bestseller, this is from a Northumberland estate that is lucky to have their own juniper and is at the forefront of a replanting initiative to conserve wild juniper in the UK. The gin is described by Victoria Moore: “It might be the best martini gin I’ve ever tasted.”

Renegade Gin (£38.00) distilled in Battersea, by Braden who lives around the corner, these guys are the only ones in London starting right from scratch with grain. A punchy style of gin with juniper, citrus and herbs to the front with a lovely dry finish.

Eclectic Gin – The Spice Blend (£39.00) again made for us at Kinrara; botanicals used are Juniper, Coriander, Liquorice, Angelica, Orange, Grapefruit, Cardamom, Grains of Paradise, Cassia and All Spice. Try it with tonic and a slice of ginger!

Procera Blue Dot Gin (£80.00)we went a bit off the reservation with this one quite frankly. Distilled in Nairobi Kenya at 1638m altitude, it is the only gin using the African strain of Juniper (Juniperus Procera). With botanicals from Zanzibar, Madagascar, Kenya, Morocco, Sierra Leone and Somalia it’s a truly African gin. Earthy, spicy and slightly nutty, with a fabulous floral note to the juniper and a crisp finish. 96/100 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2020.

Tasting This Weekend

For those not drinking gin and tonic all weekend we shall open Domaine Jouan Menetou Salon 2020(£15.99). These guys have 4 hectares of Sancerre and 1 hectare of Menetou Salon, but it’s the Menetou we love, and not just for the price! Crisp and elegant, do you agree?

We’ll stay French and sunny on the reds too with Juliénas-Chaintré Fleurie ‘Cuvée Sept’ 2020 (£14.99) Fleurie is probably the best known Cru Beaujolais and is sometimes referred to as “The Queen of Beaujolais”, so well regarded are its smooth, supple reds.

Bon Weekend!

Fly Pasts and Bunting

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Any idea what day it is? Nope, nor us! It seems there’s a decent chance there might already be a glass in the hand of some of you, most of you will send us a polite note to say that you’ll attend to our email on Monday and one or two of you are still in a queue at an airport.

The bunting flew, as did the Red Arrows as well as numerous helicopters, Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster planes. Certainly one of us finds the idea of such elderly planes flying just above our heads a little scary. Her Maj. made it out onto the balcony, Cinderella’s gold coach was towed out of retirement, we’ve had street parties, scones with cream and, no doubt, some barbecue too and we’ve not even made it to the weekend yet!

Food for Thought

A German hospital questioned 628 adults with an average age of 72 about their mood and quality of life, before comparing this information with the amount of alcohol they drank.

The participants, all in for routine surgery, were monitored over six months, each answering questionnaires before their operations and again at a follow-up appointment. About a third of the people questioned were drinking “potentially unhealthy” quantities, which meant drinking at least four nights a week, or regularly drinking the equivalent of two bottles of wine in one day.

But it just so happens that this group of drinkers were slimmer, happier and more mobile than those who drank less or were teetotal.

Before we get too excited, Dr Tony Rao, a consultant old-age psychiatrist at King’s College London pointed out that the study was observational, meaning cause and effect could not be determined.

Tasting This Weekend – At the risk of rather stretching a theme, we’ll be rolling out the gold carriage along the royal road from the Palace…

Palacio del Camino Real Blanco (£10.99) a classic barrel fermented white Rioja…

Palacio del Camino Real Crianza (£11.99) we find Rioja Crianza is rather versatile food wise so why not indeed?

And that about sums it all up I think. Her Maj. has been kind enough to give everyone a few days off and that includes the authors of this newsletter.

We’ll be here till 6pm today then we’re open as normal on Saturday 12-7pm.

Enjoy your weekend peeps!