Archive for August, 2022

Strap In For Some New Wines

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Now, here’s a question that came to me as I watched the umpteenth flight safety demonstration and we awaited take off – what’s the point of seatbelts on airplanes?  Having been flying for over four decades,  it suddenly struck me that, in all those years, the design of the seatbelt hasn’t changed one jot, which is odd considering all the other innovations that have come and gone.

So, when I got back, I asked Wayne.

He was extremely informative on the matter, with his usual salad of conspiracy theory garnished with a dollop of scepticism.  We agreed that, if one was plummeting towards the ground from 30,000 feet at more than 500 mph, the likelihood of walking away from the debris was pretty low, with or without a seatbelt.  ‘They don’t expect you to survive because if they did, they’d spend a lot more time telling you exactly how get in the brace position’ was his theory, which may or may not reek of conspiracy.  However, the main reason for no change in the belt design is simply down to the fact that there isn’t need for a change.  The current design is cheap, meets all the criteria required to pass safety regulations and is primarily designed to keep us all in one place during turbulence, which is an up/down movement rather than a forward/back movement that would require something more like a car seat belt.  We could tell you more but space sadly doesn’t allow it today but if you are keen to learn, just ask Wayne next time you’re in the shop.

Anyway, having watched the umpteenth flight safety demonstration and fastened my seatbelt unquestioningly, we proceeded northwards and landed at Heathrow at midnight.  For those of you who don’t know this, Heathrow is the principal London hub, the base of our national carrier and by all accounts the second busiest airport in the world.  So it makes sense really that the last Heathrow Express service leaves Terminal 5 at 23.57 and the last tube to Earls Court has left 15 minutes earlier.  Welcome to London everyone, your £100 taxi awaits….

Enough with the questions and enough with the moaning – I’ve had a lovely refreshing break and am now ready for the big push towards Christmas, which as I’m sure you are all aware, is less than four months away.  As you can imagine, given the heat and the fact that I was on holiday, my esteemed colleague decided, having swept the shop a gazillion times and double checked the Open sign was the right way round, that he should go shopping for some Posh Claret for Christmas.  Some of the fruits of his labours are already in the shop and I was delighted to see bottles of Chateau La Serre Saint- Émilion Grand Cru 2005, Chateau Langoa Barton Saint-Julien 2008 and Chateau Du Tertre Margaux 2010 gleaming on the shelves, eager to be opened.

But he’s not just Fine Wine Wayne, he can buy wine at all levels and has also had a bit of a penchant for wines that speak German.  As a consequence we have welcomed two wines from the young chaps at Weingut Hanewald-Schwerdt in the Pfalz region, a region in the west of the country that we have long admired, just above Alsace on the map.  Thomas Hanewald and Stephan Schwerdt are members of ‘Generation Riesling’ a body made up of the best young winemaking talent in Germany – their focus is on dry wines, primarily made from Riesling and Pinot Noir that express their vintage and vineyard.  Of course, being obtuse as we are, the white we chose to list was their Gewürztraminer…

Hanewald-Schwerdt Gewürztraminer 2020 – £13.99

A lovely off-dry, aromatic wine with delicate aromas of mango, lychee and rose.  On the palate the off-dry character comes through with that same tropical fruit in evidence but now with some spice.  There is a warm, rosewood character and importantly some fine acidity on the finish.  Chill it and enjoy it as an easy lunchtime apéritif this weekend – fab with some amuse-bouche veggie samosas!

For the red, we did follow their advice and bought their Pinot Noir…

Hanewald-Schwerdt Spätburgunder 2019 – £15.99

Bright strawberry and cherry notes lead the way with some delicious savoury character and good minerality.  Intense and medium bodied this is designed to be drunk easily (hooray) and can be enjoyed on its own (hooray again) but if you don’t subscribe to the ‘eating is cheating’ mantra, then it would be very happy with some pigeon or duck!

Happily, both wines will be on tasting today and tomorrow, so you can come and see for yourselves.

That is almost it from us this week, save for a small bit of admin – as most of you are away and as it is the late summer bank holiday this weekend we will be closing at 6pm on Saturday 27th August and will be closed on Monday too, as is the norm for bank hols (the next bank hols being at Christmas, which as you all now know, is less than 4 months away!)

And now I’ll leave you with one last question – what’s the point of wing mirrors on Ubers?  I’ll let you ponder on that….

Hustings, Hustles and La Vuelta a España

Friday, August 19th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As another week rolls past we note the differences. Alex very kindly sent us some rain up from Seville, it appears to have been a bit dusty but we appreciate the thought. It bought a welcome relief to the England cricket team’s steady fall of wickets and gave the concourse at Victoria a timely rinse. Sadly, for the England cricket team Lords is basking in the sunshine as I write this.

The battle to be Boris still has no conclusion, no smoke from the chimney and little in the way of new ideas since we wrote last. Tax Cut Truss has just the spaceman outfit to go before she completes an entire series of Mr Benn. She thinks we’re all lazy shirkers of course, whilst the current ‘Prime Minister’ returns from his second holiday in three weeks obviously too busy to even help his kids down the plane steps.

In the meantime, Rishi Sunak demonstrated he has finally mastered the modern world by successfully using a contactless card to pay in McDonalds. He’s convinced he’s still the man for the job despite Tax Cut Truss leading by 32 points. There are rural hustings today hosted by the National Farmers Union, Tax Cut Truss won’t be appearing despite her love of ‘Pork Markets’ and dislike of Solar Panel fields. Perhaps she’s realised that not protecting animal welfare standards in her trade deals is not such a smart move. Kiwi farmers still can’t believe their luck apparently.

Tory Peer Stuart Rose, a man who has experience of actually running a business, was rather critical this week: “We are sitting here now into the second, third, fourth month into this crisis and we’re still waiting to see what action will be taken … I would like to see us looking after those who need it most. We’ve got to have some action. The captain of the ship is on shore leave, right, nobody’s in charge at the moment.”  You could say he was stating the obvious but perhaps that’s because we absolutely agree with his “you can’t grow your way out of inflation.”

Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin is in a bit of hot water after video footage emerged of her dancing at a party. We wondered if the party was to celebrate German magazine Bild naming her “coolest prime minister in the world”. Her critics claim her exuberant dancing is inappropriate. Talk that Boris, upon reading the story, handed his beer to an aid is as usual, far from the truth.

As the economic climate becomes more difficult, scams, grifts and hoaxes become more prolific and elaborate. In Spain a wine producer has been charged with selling lower quality wine as higher quality Priorat wine in a £22million fraud involving fake Denomination of Origin labels.

 A popular one for us is an unusual phone order of something relatively well known, and the caller is usually in a bit of a hurry. “I’m working away; can I pay over the phone and send my driver in?” We of course suggest the driver brings cash or you take our BACS details and pay directly.  Like you, we also get plenty of undelivered parcel links that we need to click. Like you, we don’t click!

Proper sports are entering the arena again with La Vuelta a España kicking off (rolling out?) today, with a Team Time Trial in Utrecht. The city has famous links with Spain having hosted one of the first international peace negotiations when the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714.

Back to sport though, all of the teams look strong; Movistar, Lotto Soudal and Israel-Premier Tech are all fighting relegation from World Tour status so they all need to go all out to gain extra points. We have a long list of contenders that should keep us all glued to our screens including Richard Carapaz, Hugh Carthy, Primoz Roglic and of course Alejandro Valverde in his last race. Roglic is the favourite, but for me Carapaz or possibly Jai Hindley could be in the red jumper come the finish in Madrid. Should be a belter!

Whilst we wait for that driver with the cash shall we taste some wine?

White we will investigate Barton Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (£13.49). We’ve been dealing with sisters Annie and Suzie for quite a few years and have several of the wines from their estate in Walker Bay. This is a medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc and not so shouty and in your face as some the New Zealand examples.

On the red front it’d be rude not to slip something Spanish into your glass so we’ll go with Península Vinicultores Vino de Montaña 2018 (£13.69). It’s made from old vine Garnacha, Rufete and Piñuela grapes grown high in the Sierra de Gata in Extremadura. A lovely medium-bodied field blend that we rather enjoyed discovering earlier this year.

With that I think we’re done, but I’ll leave you with a question. If your dancing isn’t exuberant, is it dancing at all?

What About A Raspberry Mivvi?

Friday, August 12th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The campaign to choose a new leader of the Conservative party is still rolling along, I’m sure we’ve had Italian governments that have lasted less time and choosing a Pope is definitely a faster process. I saw that Lord Cruddas has offered to buy a place on the ballot paper for Boris Johnson, does that sound like democracy in action to you? Seemed like trying to buy a way around the party’s own regulations to me.

As both candidates promise us tax cuts, tearing up EU laws, sending more refugees to Rwanda and increasing defence spending we found ourselves rather disappointed on a number of points.

To start with, neither candidate has promised us free ice cream. Here we are in the middle of a climate crisis, the temperature is over 30˚C and all we can talk about is tax cuts? What about a raspberry mivvi?

We also wondered what had happened to the manifesto the Government was elected upon. This is a contest to become leader of the party that has been in Government for twelve years. Surely if either of the candidates promises are a fundamental change to that 2019 manifesto we should all get to vote?

I think we’d just like somebody up to the job to get it, I’m not sure we will though. John Oxley wrote a good piece in The Spectator on the Conservative crisis if you have a spare 5 minutes.  The Metro splashed the front page today with “PM attends meeting” it was with energy companies about winter pricing. Our concern is appreciated but not to worry, he’ll be able to claim it on expenses.

I’m not sure why, but the Thick of It quote seems to be doing the rounds this week: “So dense the light bends around him”.

I’ve just seen an enterprising chap walking up the Melrose Avenue with an inflated paddling pool over his shoulder. Not sure where the water will be coming from but hey ho, Wimbledon Park in summer eh?

In 2016 Trumpolina said: “You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” On Wednesday Trumpolina ‘took the Fifth 440 times whilst being questioned by New York’s Attorney General, it seems the only question he was prepared to answer was his name. We’re speaking, of course, about the “greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” or “the business practices of the Trump Organization” depending on who you would choose to believe. I found myself wondering if Trumpolina has ever been to Salem.

I suspect a number of his ‘associates’ on both sides of the pond are getting a little twitchy following the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago. What did they find in the safe? Nuclear secrets perhaps, a pile of roubles, Stormy Daniels holiday snaps or just a list Twitter passwords?

Before we sent Alex off to rediscover if sherry tastes better in situ than Wimbledon Park we had a meeting with a supplier that had dropped off of the radar. The net result is that both Chateau Vincens Cahors Origine 2018(£17.99) and the Chateau Paraza Minervois 2017 (£15.99, magnums £31) are back in the building. We’ll be able to let you know about the sherry experiment in due course.

This weekend we’ll open a bottle of Cave de Turckheim Edelzwicker (£10.99) from the Alsace, a winning blend of Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Riesling that is dry and fresh with some lush green apple fruit and a fab aperitif whilst the coals warm up.

To remind ourselves how delicious a Minervois is, we’ll have a guzzle of the Chateau de Paraza 2017 (£15.99) and now the coals are warm we’ll pop the haloumi and lamb kofte on.

That’s it from us, use sunscreen, drink some water and don’t play with matches.

Wrapped In A Cloak Of Torpor

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re now in August, on our own, in our shop.  The whole area is wrapped in a cloak of torpor, tranquillity and peace, almost a permanent state of siesta, whilst the wind is warm and the rosé is cold.  If we’re honest, we’ve worked harder…

The Commonwealth Games has been our saviour though, giving us some structure to our days and, as ever, some glimpses into sports we wouldn’t normally come across and competitors we wouldn’t normally see.  For example, Jim Horton made his international debut at the Games yesterday, representing the Falkland Islands in the Cycling Time Trial going up against the likes of Geraint Thomas and Rohan Dennis.  What makes his story more fun is the fact that, by all accounts, the Falklands only have 35 km of tarmacked roads that he was able to train on until winter hit; he had never competed in a cycle race before yesterday and he is a mere 46 years old – chapeau!  The even better news is he didn’t come last – 46 out of 54 starters and he goes again on Sunday in the Road Race.  On hearing this, another more famous island dweller, Mark ‘Manx Missile’ Cavendish, swiftly withdrew from the Tour of Poland yesterday to focus on Sunday’s race…

Wayne has been somewhat discombobulated of late, as have I, as we edge ever closer to having Liz Truss as our PM.  We could have a rant and a rave about this but frankly don’t’ feel so inclined – it’s such nice weather, none of you are here to listen to us and frankly we blustered on about Trump and Johnson which got us precisely nowhere so won’t be fooled again!

In the world of wine, Wayne has been working wonders this week and has managed to find us a Burgundy deal.  Nowadays, the phrase ‘Burgundy deal’ is not one we often hear  – more usually the conversation revolves around allocations, out of stocks and price rises so I don’t know how he did it, I’ve been advised not to ask but nonetheless, he pulled it off.

Genetie Saint Véran La Rencontre 2019, Burgundy, France

Saint-Véran is an appellation where the best sites are situated on the foothills of two ‘rochers’ that are dominant features of the southern Mâconnais country side – La Roche de Solutré and La Roche de Vergisson.  Here the granitic sub soil has its word to say and lends an elegant flinty edge to some quite tender Chardonnay.  This is a classic of the genre with lovely fresh citrus notes of lemon peel, floral notes with interesting exotic undertones and a touch of weight from the lees ageing…. we reckon some  pan-fried scallops would be a most appropriate accompaniment!

£20.49 per bottle or upgrade to the Wayne Deal – 3 for £50 (limited time offer)

To help you make your mind up we will have this white on tasting over the weekend, alongside which we will open a bottle of Domaine Fournillon Pinot Noir 2018 – £15.99

The vines for this wine are grown on the hill of Epineuil, near Chablis, opposite Tonnerre, with soils of the same Kimmeridgean and limestone mixture as its more famous neighbour.  The fruit aromas are cherry, strawberry and liquorice focused and are followed by a lovely fruit-driven fresh palate with fine tannins and a nice freshness of finish.  We think you get a lot of wine for your buck here, in fact when I first tasted this wine my notes were: ‘soft, nice fruit, a no-brainer’.

Anyway, we’d best be off now, the Rhythmic Gymnastics final starts in a minute and the Athletics is on too, so we need as many screens as we can but just before we go, a word to the wise.  Saucer & Cup are taking a break from Monday 8th August for a couple of weeks we’re told and Whisk are off for 3 weeks as of tomorrow, back after the Bank Holiday, so if you need quality refreshment, I’m afraid we’re your best bet!!

Over and out.