Archive for July, 2022

Dover to Helvellyn

Friday, July 29th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I write this assuming that you have now successfully negotiated Dover/ Terminal Two at Heathrow/ the A303/ the M4* (*delete as appropriate) and are firmly ensconced in that cool beach bar/local pub/on a long walk up Helvellyn* (*delete as appropriate).

Just a quick line to keep you up to date on local developments, the cycle lane on Melrose is now nearly finished. Initially they took it out, but they have now put it back and moved the parking closer to the kerb. For cyclists the finish on the edge of the kerb on Arthur Road is a tad uneven if you take a tight line, but given there’s normally something parked there I doubt it will affect many.

Parking has been widely available all week and there has been little traffic despite the installation of a plunge pool and stop go traffic lights on Durnsford Road as well as a train strike. Turnover here at the shop has been a little slow as we’d expect with you all away, but we have managed to submit our VAT return and take in a couple of deliveries.

You may be wondering why this is all written in bold? The truth is we thought it’d be easier to read on the phone in the glare of sunshine that way. For those of you, like me, still at work and reading it there, you can just highlight the text and click on the fat letter B at the top left and it should return to normal.

On the political front, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak continue to take lumps out of each other in the race to be leader of the Conservative Party and successor to Boris Johnson as PM. They both promise to fix all the problems in the world, whilst being apparently ignorant of the fact they’re trying to lead the party that has been in power since 2010.

Meanwhile, with no apparent sense of ludicrousness, Labour have started up their very own brand of infighting, sacking the Shadow Transport Secretary in the process. We really do have a Palace of all the talents at Westminster don’t we?

What a splendid week for Women’s sport with the Lionesses getting through to the Euro final at Wembley on Sunday to face Germany. There have been some fantastic moments, not least the back heel goal from supersub Alessia Russo!

In real sport, the Tour de France Femmes is rolling its way through France. The racing has been rather fab, we’ve had gravel, cobbles and we’ve even seen Obelix cheering on from the side of the road. Jumbo Visma have the yellow jersey on the back of Marianne Vos but the mountains beckon, and Annemiek Van Vleuten seems to be recovering from an early bout of icky tummy.

An honourable mention is surely due to Moeen Ali, with the fastest half century in T20. That’s fifty runs off of sixteen balls, do go seek it out, it’s a real feast for the eyes.

The Commonwealth games start today in Birmingham with 72 teams competing and more medal events for women than men for the first time in a major event. Look out for three on three basketball, track cycling featuring Laura Kenny and a rather in form Geraint Thomas in his Wales shirt.

The Mercury Award Nominations for Best Album were out this week too, it’s a strong list that’s definitely worth lending your ears to so do investigate. I think I’d like Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler: ‘For All Our Days That Tear the Heart’ or  Little Simz ‘Sometime I Might Be Inrovert’ to win but I suspect it’ll be Sam Fender or Harry Styles.

That just leaves us to talk about the wines. In the white corner we’ll be supping Mas Blanch I Jove Troballa 2020/21 (£17.99) – a great wine, 100% Garnacha Blanca with wild fermentation, aged for four months in concrete eggs.  A rich and fruity wine with a lovely mouthfeel that would be splendid with a rare tuna steak.  The wine is suitable for vegans too, so perhaps a lightly spiced vegetable and coconut curry.

Whilst over in the red corner we’ll go for Monte del Fra Bardolino 2020 (£15.49) – a winning blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara from a lovely family run vineyard in the heart of the Custoza region. Light to medium-bodied with lovely cherry fruit that could even have a light chill if you’re in the mood. Should you be in the area they’re very open to visitors and offer picnics, wine tasting and even yoga!

Lastly, a fond farewell to Bernard Cribbins who gave the Womble’s voice and  told us so many stories.


Tasty Portugeezers

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, what do we talk about this week?

We started the week with the much anticipated opening of the gates of hell as the devils hairdryer was pointed directly at us for 48 hours.  First red weather warning and, my goodness, didn’t it do well as it pretty much brought the country to a standstill.  Our representatives in Petworth tell us that all of the shops decided to shut on Monday and Tuesday, with the exception of the Co-op; other reporters tell of melting roads and runways in the Midlands whilst, more locally, the District line decided that terminating all trains at Wimbledon Park was the most helpful thing to do – this did little for our sales but did allow us to become an impromptu Information Desk, directing people to the nearest bus stops, a role we usually only fulfil during the tennis fortnight.

And then it was done.  A drop of 10 degrees on Wednesday, some rain in the evening and it was all over.  I fear the heat might have got to us though, as we have been having some disturbing hallucinations, one involving Boris Johnson getting a standing ovation in parliament yesterday and the other suggesting there is a 50/50 chance of Liz Truss becoming the next PM!  Pass me the cold poultice, I think I’ve got high fever….

Elsewhere, from across the pond we are told by the director of the CIA that there is no evidence that Vladimir Putin is unstable or in bad health – clearly we don’t know about Vlad’s health but I think we’ve been able to see for some time now many signs of being unstable.  Staying in the US, a Lancet study, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, has stated that anyone under the age of 40 should limit themselves to no more than two teaspoons of wine or two and a half tablespoons of beer per day if they want to avoid risking their health.  Having done the maths, that equates to a pint roughly every two weeks – hmmmmm….

Over here, we saw cricket hero Ben Stokes retire from the One Day format – Test cricket is more fun and T20 is more lucrative – but also he has highlighted that the pressure on top sportsmen, in all sports, is getting out of hand.  “We’re not cars where you can just fill us up with petrol or diesel and then let us go. It does have this effect on you, the amount of playing and travelling we do – it all adds up.”  Wise words.

Meanwhile, Wayne has been glued to the Tour De France of course, the one sport that possibly would argue with Mr Stokes’ assertions above.  The fact that these cyclists can pedal, in the equivalent temperatures to the ones that we were advised to stay inside with the curtains shut, day after day with a few gel bars and some water just makes you sit back in awe – quite extraordinary!

And finally the summer holidays are upon us, proper ones this time, with hopes of air travel and destinations more exotic than those we have been visiting for the last couple of years.  Portugal seems to be a hot favourite this year.  So, with this in mind we thought we’d give you a bit of preparation for your upcoming trip by opening some Portugeezers tonight and tomorrow.

For the white it has to be the ever popular Vilacetinho Vinho Verde 2021 – £9.99.  Casa de Vilacetinho was founded in 1790 and is one of the oldest producers of Vinho Verde. This wine is crisp and dry from south facing, granite slopes.  Lively, zingy, zesty with a light spritz and, at only 10% alcohol, unlikely to give you a headache in the morning.

For the red, we’ll be visiting Port country, with a still wine from the Douro.  Quinta do Espinho Colheita 2017 – £13.99 which is a classic Douro blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca.  The wine is bright and elegant despite the heat of the vintage, lots of red berry and cherry on the nose.  The oak is light and well integrated bringing some extra length to the juicy finish, a touch of spice and green herb too – dangerously delicious…

So that’s it from us for now, happy holidays, send us a postcard!

Hasta la vista!

We’re having a heatwave…

Friday, July 15th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How’s the week going for you, a little on the scorchio side? Well, it looks likely to continue for a few days, so wear a hat and stay hydrated!

In the voice of Marilyn Monroe…

We’re having a heat wave
A tropical heat wave
The temperature is rising
It isn’t surprising”

There is plenty of cold white and rosé in the fridge if we can help in any way?

We see, on the parliament front, that activist Steve Bray has been assigned two Metropolitan Police to follow him around; if only there was that kind of budget for Police Officers to be on the street when the kids were coming back from that night club, eh?

In other Parliament news, the “beauty pageant” to become leader of the Conservative party is in full flight. It seems all of the candidates are promising change and to fix things, like they haven’t been there for the last twelve years. Slippery Sunak managed to avoid all the key questions put to him on Radio 4 on Thursday morning, Liz Truss got lost on the way out of the room at the launch for her candidacy and, without any sense of irony, Penny Mordaunt said the electorate are sick of the Tories fighting each other. On to round three.

The Speaker appeared to lose control of the house during Prime Ministers Questions this week, demanding that two members from the SNP ‘Shut up or get out”. I couldn’t help but think that’s exactly what the SNP have been campaigning for all this time.

To be fair, the political mess is not just us, Mario Draghi’s government in Italy has collapsed and Sri Lanka’s President has fled the country and resigned after overseeing a complete economic collapse that will likely see an IMF rescue.

Did you see those amazing photos that NASA released this week? The amazing photos from the James Webb Space Telescope reminded us of Tangerine Dream record covers from the late 1970’s, it seems the universe really could be a disco. Do check out the pictures though, they’re beautiful.

For those of you who like to swing a stick whilst you stroll in the countryside, the 150th Open has started up at St Andrews and, in a break with tradition, the sun is shining there too, and as I type this Cameron Young is in the lead having just finished at 8 under.

In the cricket, the One Day Internationals could be going a bit better, Essex fancied a day on the beach in Clacton so despatched Gloucestershire in three days in the County Championship.

Over in France the real sports are happening, I think we’re witnessing a real classic in Le Tour, some of the racing has been incredible and we’ve only got just over half way so far. A Race for the Ages you might say.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start the proceedings in the white corner with Sonberk Riesling 2018 (£23.99) from the Mikulovsko appellation in the Czech Republic; this is a lovely dry, mineral Riesling with apricot fruit and a touch of spiciness.

Mornington Peninsula will provide us with the red, a rather fabulous Pinot Noir, Paringa Estate Peninsula Pinot Noir 2019 (£28.99). It’s a lively cherry and spice laden wine that, in our view, really does show the best of Pinot Noir from the region.

Beer, Bubbly and Bye Bye BoJo

Friday, July 8th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Let’s pop a cork and celebrate ‘Bubbles for Boris’!


Lété-Vautrain Brut 204 – £30.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut – £36.99

Delavenne Pere et Fils Grand Cru Brut Rosé – £45.00

Andre Robert Les Jardins du Mesnil Grand Cru – £47.00

Tarlant Brut Nature – £50.00

Louis Roederer Collection 242 Brut – £50.00


Lété-Vautrain Grand Millesime 2013/14 – £35.00

Collet Brut Vintage 2008 – £50.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Vintage 2008 – £70.00

Bollinger PNVZ 16 – £84.00

Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 – £112.00

The Bollinger 007 Limited Edition Millesime 2011 – £200.00

Louis Roederer Cristal 2013 – £220.00

So, yeah, it’s been one hell of a week.  Lots of people who we had never heard of resigned on Wednesday; one person we’ve heard too much from kind of resigned yesterday whilst never using the word resign or resignation in his statement and actually not leaving Downing Street; and all the while, Chris Pincher, the final nail in the Boris shaped casket, still has a job as MP for Tamworth in spite of all the evidence stacked up against him – a truly Johnsonian situation if ever there was one….

But we move on, little by little.  People who wouldn’t have made the Cabinet in any normal government are now throwing their hats in the ring, mistakenly believing themselves to be viable prospects for Leader whilst the opposition wants BJ to go straight away, which could lead to the very real situation of Dominic Raab, as deputy PM, becoming caretaker PM.  Boris, please don’t go….

Moving away from the parliamentary pantomime we find ourselves reading about beer, which seems to have been in the news this week.  First up, we discover that a YouGov ratings report into beer and cider covering the first part of this year confirms that, whilst craft beers are fun and funky, the most popular and positively viewed products are still the big names.   San Miguel, Guinness and Heineken take the top three spots, followed by two mass produced apple based drinks, Kopparberg and Bulmers.  The rest of the top ten you can probably guess – Peroni, Stella Artois, Kronenbourg 1664, Magners and Corona.  Brewdog, in spite of all its barking and growling, only comes 15th and will possibly be affected by their founder and CEO suggesting this week that his much reported inappropriate behaviour could stem from previously undiagnosed low-level autism.  As Alice Running wrote in Metro yesterday, ‘whether or not James Watt is autistic, is irrelevant. Being autistic does not excuse bad behaviour, because being autistic does not equate to being badly-behaved.’

Staying in our hoppy place we then delved into the recently published article on the Impact of Beer and Nonalcoholic Beer Consumption on the Gut Microbiota: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial written by CINTESIS, a research facility in Porto.  As ever, we read this stuff so you don’t have to and, in a nutshell, beer is good for you and it doesn’t even have to contain alcohol.  They conclude that: ‘Nonalcoholic and alcoholic beer increased gut microbiota diversity which has been associated with positive health outcomes and tended to increase faecal alkaline phosphatase activity, a marker of intestinal barrier function. These results suggest the effects of beer on gut microbiota modulation are independent of alcohol and may be mediated by beer polyphenols.’

Sorry Yakult, them’s the breaks, your work here is done.

Elsewhere, we won the cricket at a canter, which is definitely something I wasn’t expecting to say.  I have to confess, and I know I’ll get rebuked for this given his heroics of late, but I still cannot warm to Young Jonny Bairstow, sorry.  However, I can love the fact that English Test Match cricket has risen from the ashes and has proven it can be the most exciting format.  We lost the rugby against the Aussies by far more than the 2 point difference would make you believe but we did beat Austria in the opening match of the Women’s Euros.  Tennis is in the balance but, as I write this, we still have Cameron from Putney keeping our hopes alive….

Anyway enough piffle, I’m told we’re about to have a heatwave weekend and that we all need to stay well refreshed, so we should probably think about opening some wine for you all to taste.  As it’s such an exciting weekend, we’re going to open 3 bottles and they’ll all be coming from the fridge!

Domaine du Landrau Cremant de Loire Rosé NV – £16.99

As we said, let’s celebrate ‘Bubbles for Boris’ and pop a cork.  Hailing from Anjou, Domaine du Landreau has passed through four generations of vine growers.  This is made from Cabernet Franc and Grolleau, hand harvested fermented in the traditional method and then aged for 3 years on the lees.  A cracking sparkler with raspberry fruit character that is an absolute joy – pink bubbles on a sunny day, it’s a no brainer!

Domaine Jouan Menetou Salon 2020 – £15.99

Menetou-Salon is a small appellation of around 300 hectares just to the south-west of Sancerre.  Here the Sauvignon Blanc vines are planted on Kimmeridgian limestone soils, very similar to those of Chablis, and similar mineral notes can be detected in the wines.  It has always been the case that a bit of careful hunting and tasting can find you some real gems that rival it’s more famous neighbour in the quality stakes and this is a fine example of that; fresh and floral with aromas of citrus and blackcurrant leaves and elegant mineral tones and a long finish.

Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ 2020 – £11.99

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 this grape variety.  Awesome with a plate of charcuterie and delicious from the fridge.

So, come and join us for a sip or two and raise a glass to our future – we’ll leave the last words to the ex-King of the World, which we think speaks volumes: my policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it…

Bye-Bye Bojo!


Friday, July 1st, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to July, hottest month of the year apparently?!

It’s a month full of celebrations – today Canadians around the world are blowing the froth off a cold Labatt’ Blue in celebration of 155 years of Confederation and political autonomy.  Then, on Monday, the Americans have their turn whilst they de-ice a Coors Light and revel in 246 years of Independence from British Rule.  Ten days later it’s the turn of the French to decapitate a chilled Desperado as they celebrate the storming of the Bastille, the symbolic start of the French Revolution.

In fact, after further research, it looks like July is quite a busy month for Independence days: alongside those mentioned above we have Burundi, Rwanda,  Somalia,  Belarus, Algeria,  Cape Verde, Venezuela,  Comoros,  Malawi,  Solomon Islands,  Argentina,  South Sudan, The Bahamas, Kiribati, São Tomé and Príncipe, Slovakia, Colombia, Belgium, Egypt, Liberia, Maldives, Netherlands, Peru and Vanuatu.  Quite a few of these gained their freedom from the Spanish Empire, a couple from Belgium, however the majority were escaping the grips of the United Kingdom – god bless our imperial past and all its many injustices!

When do we add Scotland to this list I wonder?

As you can no doubt tell from the aimless meanderings above, we’ve not been given much support by world news once again this week.  The news is filled with awful people going to prison for 30 years; it’s filled with reports of the demise of modern, free society in the USA; it’s filled with articles about the Met police being not fit for purpose whilst they are simultaneously given more powers to stop and search anyone they want and arrest peaceful protesters outside parliament.

Not many jokes to be made there.

Sport has given us a bit of succour though.  The cricket produced a thriller once again as England triumphed over New Zealand.  Ireland’s best cricketer retired, having realised his work here is done.  Tennis is getting a bit more exciting too, now that we don’t have to slavishly watch every grimace Mr Murray makes and Ms Raducanu can take some time out of the spotlight and regroup.  We can now just watch it for fun and support the others, like local Putney lad Cameron Norrie (born in South Africa, parents Scottish and Welsh, grew up in New Zealand before going to Uni in Texas….)

Elsewhere, Wayne nearly spat his Cheerios across the kitchen when he discovered that Mark Cavendish hadn’t been picked for the Tour de France.  Even to me it seems a bit bonkers that someone who is in the form of their life and who won the Green jersey last year hasn’t been given the nod.  Almost, feels a bit disrespectful to the Tour itself that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to defend his title – however we won’t be boycotting this epic adventure and will watch it on TV of course – it starts today in Copenhagen (obviously!)

In the world of wine where we choose to spend many of our waking hours not much is going on – grapes are growing, fears of thunderstorms are increasing as always happens at this time of year and prices are going up, again. 

Sadly, nothing new there really. 

We did discover, via a recently revised report on Alcohol Consumption in different countries by Our World In Data, that we don’t even make the Top Ten.  The Seychelles top the table with average alcohol consumption per person, whilst we come 20th in the list, after Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Portugal and Switzerland.  Of course, this isn’t a reason to up our levels but it is quite nice to know that we’re not as bad as we are often painted by the media!

So, let’s have a drink to celebrate.  We don’t have anything Canadian, sorry Francis.  How about we open something from the US of A and then something from Argentina who will also be celebrating their Independence on 9th July?  I know that’s next Saturday but, according to Paula, it’s never too early to start the party….

For the white we’ll go with a massively underrated white from Argentina: Manos Negras Torrontés 2019 – £14.99.  Alejandro Sejanovich is probably Argentina’s most knowledgeable viticulturist. As vineyard director for Bodega Catena Zapata for 16 years, he pioneered high altitude vineyard planting which is where this wine comes in. Torrontés is Argentina’s signature white grape, and this one is from the vineyards of the Calchaquí Valleys at altitudes ranging between 1700 and 3100 meters above sea level. The large diurnal temperature range the altitude brings is key to the freshness as we are on the same latitude as the Kalahari Desert (26˚). Torrontés grown at these extremes gives us a wine of light yellow colour, with explosive floral aromas, citrus fruit flavours and a crisp, clean finish.

For the red, I think the Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – £24.99 will be just the ticket.  Growers and makers of expressive, approachable estate wines from Paso Robles, California, this offering is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot matured for 20 months in oak barrels.  Cassis, blueberries, cedar and anise dominate with hints of black olives and juniper berry.  The palate is full-bodied with the same cassis and blueberries, spicy notes and a rich structured finish.

That’s all from us for this week; we’re off on our skidoos to the Maple Leaf in Maiden Lane followed by a swim on Trafalgar Square, who’s with us?  Oh year, probably about 18 policemen….