Archive for October, 2022

Meet the new team, same as the old team…

Friday, October 28th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And so it finally came to pass, Alex parted company with Park Vintners last Friday. 

It would seem that he had been sharing top secret tasting notes with a number of parties at Regal Wine Cellars via his googlemail account.  In fact, as he wrote in his letter of resignation:

‘Earlier today, l sent some Bordeaux tasting notes and a beer recommendation from my personal email to a trusted former colleague with the aim of garnering support for a visit to the pub next week.  This constitutes a technical infringement of the rules.  As you know, the tasting notes were also written by you and were due to be written on little pieces of card and attached to bottles imminently.  Much of them had already been seen by customers, their dogs and various delivery drivers.  Nevertheless it is right for me to go.’

He then yattered on a bit about high standards, business, responsibility and mistakes.  It was sometimes unclear whether he was referring to himself or was in fact using a not so clever allegorical device to make a point – it was all a bit laboured though.  The fact that he then decided to reiterate ‘l have made a mistake; l accept responsibility; l resign’ had me starting to believe that in actual fact he didn’t really think he had made a mistake and that actually he was resigning because he’d received a better offer from Regal but just didn’t want me to know about it just yet.

Either way he’s gone, thank goodness.

As a result I have been running the shop for the first part of this week on my own and it has felt quite liberating.  This has also given me the opportunity to put together a whole fresh new team in time for the weekend and one that I hope will take us through to Christmas.

So, let me introduce you to my newest recruit – Alex. 

I was very fortunate to be able to hire Alex at such short notice due to him finishing rather abruptly with his previous employer last week, perhaps under a cloud.  However, Alex recognises that he made an error of judgment and has accepted his mistake which is why I was delighted to welcome him back into wine retail particularly considering the experience and stability he brings to the heart of Park Vintners.

You couldn’t make it up!

Meanwhile, whilst Alex was on his gardening leave he decided to ‘do a Dominic’ and drive all the way up to the northeast, via Barnard Castle and Hadrian’s Wall, to visit with the happy folk of Hepple.  As you are all hopefully aware, Hepple is our un-official house Gin.  We call it un-official because we don’t like to put pressure on our products but, if pushed, this would be the house tipple and is certainly our best seller.  So, when confronted with some unexpected days off, it came as no surprise that Alex would flee to the land of heather, juniper and very large Negronis – wouldn’t you? 

By all accounts he had an absolute ball, brought back the latest news from Walter the Cultivator and Chris the Distiller and, more excitingly for me, came back with more stock for our shelves.  Alongside the usual, he also brought some rather fun little 5cl bottles of Hepple Gin which, as we all know, is a double shot.  These retail at £5 per bottle, add a bottle of Fever Tree and you’ve got a delicious G’n’T for a lot less than the pub – perfect for quiet nights in, perfect for little gifts, perfect for big events.

For the first time in a while we haven’t listed any new products this week so will be tasting some old favourites instead and, as I’m told that it’s Halloween soon, perhaps something with that in mind.

Vina Robles Viognier 2019 – £19.99. When Hans Nef, a civil engineer from Zurich, came to Paso Robles in the mid-1990s a new generation of California winemakers was turning it into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.  This Viognier is planted in the highest part of the Huerhuero Vineyard benefitting from the cooling afternoon pacific breeze.  Crisp and medium-bodied with peach and mandarin fruit with a long lively finish – really rather fabulous and by all accounts one of the best matches for pumpkin!

Finca Bacara ‘Time Waits For No One’ 2020 – £13.99.  This is a delicious drop of Monastrell from Jumilla in Spain where, in spite of its latitude, the wines are well managed largely due to the vineyards being at reasonable altitude.  A juicy and opulent red with attractive floral aromas, ripe fruit and balsamic notes in the background leading onto a nicely balanced fresh palate that lifts the vibrant fruit through to a smooth and persistent finish…. and then on to another glass.  Oh, it’s got a skull on the label too!

That’s it from us for now, back to a full team in time for the weekend and hopefully well into next week!

Spring forward, fall back….

Kakistocracy, Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi & Cool Coast Pinot Noir

Friday, October 21st, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Kakistocracy – a state or society governed by its least suitable or competent citizens.

We knew this week was going to be fun when on Monday Penny Mordant, standing in for Pork Markets, declared that “the Prime Minister is not under a desk.” This was of course during the Urgent Question on the sacking of the Chancellor and the damage to the economy. Pork Markets apologised for not attending, claiming to have been in a meeting with Graham Brady of the 1922 committee. In a bizarre turn of events, Graham Brady appeared to be in the Chamber during said Urgent Question.

The Urgent Question was followed by a statement from the shiny new Chancellor Jezza Hunt who executed a number of U-turns so swiftly that the casting director of the Fast and Furious franchise has been in touch. The bad news for all those looking forward to a tax cut is that we aren’t getting one. Worse than that, it appears that there’ll be a return to austerity measures. Hunt is looking to find some cash to fill a £38 billion gap in the finances and it seems the number he has for Dido Harding might be a little out of date.

Tuesday rolled in with Suella blaming everyone, except the people in charge for twelve years, for the country’s woes. I certainly had no idea that eating Tofu was so bad for a country’s growth but, now you mention it, Japan has had low growth for years and there is plenty of Tofu on menus there; maybe she’s not as daft as she sounds.

Sorry that last comment didn’t age well.  As Wednesday wanders into frame, the carnage continues with former Attorney General Suella Braverman becoming former Home Secretary too. Apparently too stupid not to use her personal email account when sending government documents to “trusted colleagues”. I guess that’ll leave more time for kidnapping puppies. We think Grant Shapps is the new Home Secretary; it could of course be Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath or Sebastian Fox.

Just to make sure we’re all paying attention, Pork Markets also suspended one of her senior special advisers. Jason Stein was allegedly briefing Sunday Newspapers that Sajid Javid was less than competent. Seems this job may have lasted less time than when Mr Stein was Prince Andrew’s PR guru!

The Common’s vote on fracking was advertised as a vote of confidence in Pork Markets in the afternoon, with dire consequences for any Tory that didn’t support it. Ten minutes before the vote, a No.10 spokesman said it was no longer an issue of confidence. With the Chief Whip and her deputy now feeling undermined, they storm off in a huff, apparently resigning. By the Ten O’clock News they were both dramatically un-resigned. At 1.30am a No.10 Press Release says it was indeed a vote of confidence, though Pork Markets herself hadn’t voted, having been too busy chasing the Chief Whip across the Westminster estate.

As I write this it’s not clear if those MP’s who didn’t vote with the Government will lose the whip or not but Pork Markets has resigned at 1.30pm on Thursday after 45 days, the shortest term in our history. The lettuce won!

As it all currently stands, if No.10 doesn’t end up on Air BnB, we have Alex pencilled in to be Prime Minister for a few hours on Thursday next, whilst Wayne might have a look at being Home Secretary on Friday afternoon.

Pity the poor writers of Political satire, what can they possibly add?

On the sport’s front we’re strolling into a plethora of World Cup Tournaments which should last us all the way to Christmas. The Women’s Rugby World Cup has already started with the Red Roses as favourites, having thrashed Fiji and beaten France already. Wales lost to the Cook Islands in Pool D of the Rugby League World Cup on Wednesday night, the Super 12 part of T20 World Cup in cricket starts on Saturday and just as they both finish, the FIFA World Cup will be starting in Qatar.

For those interested in real sports, Dan Bigham’s Hour Record lasted for six days more than Pork Markets’ Premiership!

I don’t know how you feel, but I think it’s time for a drink. With this in mind, should you have a space in your calendar, we thought we might just do a one of Sparkling Wine & Champagne Tasting on Thursday 24th November.  We’ve lined up a selection of sparklers and Champagnes; we’ll round up some light nibbles and lay up a table for 12 lucky souls!  It’ll start at 7.30pm, it costs £35 per person and we work purely on the basis of first come, first served.

Check that diary!

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start with a rather delicious white that we haven’t opened since we first listed it three years ago.

Tenute Pieralisi ‘Villaia’ Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi 2020 (£19.99)

This is taken from the estate’s Colle del Sole vineyard right next to the winery.  It is their best plot and the quality is really evident in your glass.  The wine is made with wild yeasts that are allowed to start a spontaneous fermentation.  The wine itself is open and expressive with blossom, apricot and citrus aromas.  The textured palate has lovely stone fruit flavours, a touch of minerality and a racy, elegant finish. 

Then we’ll move on to the Cool Coast of Chile for the red.

Casa Silva Cool Coast Pinot Noir 2021 (£18.99)

Hailing from the coastal vineyards of the Colchagua Valley, this is a proper cool climate Pinot Noir with a nose filled with red fruit notes, strawberries, raspberries and a subtle background note of cinnamon and spice from the French oak it spent 12 months reposing in.  An excellent length of finish and a real pleasure to drink.  Lamb leg steaks on the outdoor grill should be perfect.

That’s enough from us, as we go to press there is no sign of another U turn. Pork Markets has left the building!

It could be said that, historically, the second week of October is not terribly eventful – perhaps next year will be different?

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How’s your week been?  Action packed?  Monotonous?  Same, same but different?  A bit meh?  Yep, same here – all a bit of a non-descript week, nothing really to report, quite looking forward to the weekend if we’re honest.

In times when not a lot has happened, we tend to nostalgically trawl the archives for inspiration and to see what we found to talk about in other years this week – so we lifted the following:

2010 – no Friday email yet, we were coming to the end of our careers at Wines of the World and were about to requalify as painter/decorators as we started works on the shop here and didn’t even have a computer, let alone a clue, between us

2011 – having had a computer for a while now, this week we were discussing ‘a runner at the Kielder marathon being stripped of his medal after confessing to using a bus for part of the course, Paul McCartney has the noise police visit at 1am (party on dude!), and news reaches us that Yetis really do exist, so be careful if you’re spending the weekend in Siberia!  Oh, and Wayne broke his leg…..’

2012 – ‘We watched as the USADA unveiled their case against Lance Armstrong (and it seems pretty damning to us). It’s tough to lose seven titles I’m sure, but you know what, I guess it really wasn’t about the bike.’  Still annoyed he cheated.

2013 – we just talked about wine, clearly another non-descript week.

2014 – ‘Poor old Kevin Peterson had the mickey taken out of him in the changing room and Roy Keane thinks the song “Dancing Queen” is not an ideal pre-match motivator’  Staying with sport we also reported that on 7th October 2014: MK Dons 2 – AFC Wimbledon 3 – not sure that would be the scoreline if they played today.

2015 – We were getting our knickers in a twist about loopholes multinational companies can use loopholes like a back-to-front telescope so that they end up paying less corporation tax than your local shop.’  Clearly our Private Eye subscription was well used that week.

2016 – Bob Dylan won the Noble Prize for Literature for creating “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”  Wayne went to a wine tasting with Champagne Tarlant and Alex went to Hawksmoor on the Monday and discovered the joy of steak and Pintia from Toro.

2017 – it was National Curry Week and National Chocolate week and Wayne was very excited.

2018 – Patisserie Valerie discovered a £20 million hole in their books and called in the forensic accountants whilst we rocked back on our heels at the news that nearly 30% of young people in England don’t drink, before looking more closely at the study and noticing that by young they weren’t joking, some 22% of the people discussed weren’t even legally allowed to buy booze!  It’s all about the headline though, isn’t it?

2019 – we revealed ‘it seems Colleen Rooney has been up to mischief trying to find out who has been leaking stories about her to the press. The story is too dull and attention seeking to go into here but headline writers have run amok. It even made it onto Peston which I had believed to be a political comment show. Wagatha Christie indeed!’  Cannot believe this farce took so long to resolve itself.

2020 – in the thick of lockdown, or semi-lockdown or whatever it was, we heard that ‘you and I as taxpayers have employed a selection of consultants from Boston Consulting Group at a bargain basement DAILY rate of around £7,000 to sort out track and trace. I suspect we could have asked a district nurse to run it for considerably less than that!’  Funny, I wonder if any other big corporations benefitted from the ‘business’ of Covid?  I’m sure we’d have heard by now…

2021 – Boris went to Benahavís and stayed for free at Zac Goldsmith’s £25,000/week pad.  And still he managed to cling on as Prime Minister for another 9 months.

And now here we are in 2022 – keeping with the Boris theme for now, we learn that The Office of Boris Johnson Limited has been incorporated this week.  It’s not entirely transparent (really?!) what he will use the office for, particularly given his past history but we hear that, as an ex-PM, he can claim up to £115,000 expenses running his office, a sort of parachute payment for redundant Prime Ministers to help them re-adjust to normal life.  So glad he’s going to be alright, we were worried.

So, it could be said that, historically, the second week of October is not terribly eventful – perhaps next year will be different?

As we said at the top, we’re quite looking forward to the weekend if we’re honest and to help us into it we’ll be opening a couple of bottles to tickle the tastebuds.  Both come from Italy and neither has been opened for tasting for a while.

Ciù Ciù Merlettaie Pecorino 2020, Offida, Marche – £15.99 absolutely nothing to do with the cheese of the same name, this has a pleasing floral nose with clean and refined aromas of banana, broom, apple, hazelnut and plum followed by a hint of vanilla.  The mouth follows the nose, a slightly round attack however balanced, agreeable crispness, good body and intense flavours.  Similar weight to wines from southern Burgundy but more interesting than any at this price!

CentoPassi Giato Nero d’Avola/Perricone 2021, Sicily – £15.99.  My tasting notes remind me that this is an organic wine with spiced black fruits, hints of cloves and decently full bodied.  Equally as interesting is the news that the wine is the result of a project working to rebuild communities and honour Mafia victims using land seized from Mafiosi.  Nice story, nice wine, cannot believe the last time we had this on the table was 2014!

That’s it from us for this week, hopefully next week we’ll have something fun to write about but for now we’ll leave you with quote of the week, courtesy of the BBC last night:

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted he is “not going anywhere”, despite the market turbulence he admitted was caused in part by his policies.  Asked if he and PM Liz Truss would still be in their jobs this time next month, he said: “Absolutely, 100%.”

Bye, bye, bye…

Fizz Friday. Bollinger for a Bond Anniversary!

Friday, October 7th, 2022

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Hello, hello, it’s us again, heralding the start of your weekend and the tempting prospect of Friday Night Fizz beckoning to you from the wings.  Finally, an email that starts with some positivity….

Unbeknownst to us, it seems that this week is the week of the reverse ferret.  In politics, Kwasi (it was the Queen’s fault) and Liz (it was Kwasi’s fault) famously decided to reverse their tax cut plans; in economics, the pound doesn’t know what to do, one minute it’s in the doldrums, the next it’s rallying, then it’s back down again….; and in boxing, Conor Benn tests positive for a banned testosterone enhancing substance and we were originally told that  ‘The B sample has yet to be tested, meaning that no rule violation has been confirmed. Indeed, Mr Benn has not been charged with any rule violation, he is not suspended, and he remains free to fight.’  A couple of hours later British Boxing Board of Control decided to ‘prohibit’ the match between him and Chris Eubank Jr because, you know, testing positive has to count for something.

And then we had word from across the pond that the world’s greatest diplomat, Elon Musk, had come up with a solution to the ongoing war in Ukraine.  His plans have not gone down well, as you might guess, however Elon’s reaction to the torrent of scorn, derision and anger from well, everyone, was to claim his tweet had undergone the ‘Biggest bot attack I’ve ever seen’.  Bot or not, we did like the twitter response from Lithuanian president, Gitanas Nausėda:

‘Dear @elonmusk, when someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn’t make them legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favor of it. Just saying.’


Elsewhere, we’ve all started feeling a bit old as we celebrate 60 years since the cinema release of the first Bond movie Dr. No.  Urusla Andress walked out of the sea; Sean Connery said ‘Bond.  James Bond’ for the first time and the famous quote ‘A medium dry martini, lemon peel, shaken, not stirred’ was coined, although not initially by Mr Bond.  We recommend that if you are doing Fizz Friday, a bottle of Bollinger might be a nice treat, although we don’t have the 1953 or the 1955!

Further to our promises over the last few weeks, we have taken delivery of a few more new wines, three from France. one from Italy, one from New Zealand and one from Argentina.


Domaine Joel Delaunay ‘Maceration de Soif’ Sauvignon Blanc Vin Orange 2021 – £21.49 from the Loire valley, another adventure with orange wine and if you’re a fan of rich minerals this is absolutely up your strasse – dry, hints of capsicum and as close as you will get to licking stones without actually going into the garden.

Domaine Rolly Gassmann Kappelweg de Rorschwihr Riesling 2014 – £36.59 from Alsace, Rolly Gassmann farm organically and bio-dynamically but haven’t sought certification for their wines.  This wine is a powerful Riesling with a bit of age on it, where rich stone fruit is offset by a racy citric acidity.  We could happily drink this all day….

Château Fleur de Lisse 2016, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – £35.00 which as you can guess is from Bordeaux.  As you’d expect from a GC from a great vintage and vines with an average age of 45 years, this is a lesson in red berries, black berries, spice, polish, texture, nicely structured tannins and a long rich finish.


Poggio al Tesoro ‘Solosole’ Vermentino Toscana 2021 – £26.59 comes from the famous Bolgheri estate owned by the Allegrini family, next door to Ornellaia.  Famous for their reds, we decided to give one of their whites a go too.  Crisp and fresh with citrus and herb notes, a lovely texture and a great finish – a fabulous all-rounder.

New Zealand

Akarua ‘RUA’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2021 – £25.29.  The Skeggs family, owners of the winery, were among the first to purchase and plant vineyards in Central Otago, in the mid 1990’s and as a result, they know a thing or two about making Pinot here.  We tend to benchmark quality Pinot more from how it finishes than how it starts – and this finishes beautifully.  Fruit on the attack which then ushers in some fine tannins and lifted aromatics that linger and linger – very tasty.


Colomé Lote Especial La Brava Malbec 2020 – £24.99 is sourced entirely from the ‘La Brava’ vineyard, located 1750 metres above sea level.  After spending 12 months in oak, the resulting wine is vibrant and aromatic, with a fine tannic structure and is delicately poised between being too dry or too fruity – for us, the perfect expression of Malbec.

So, having now tantalised everyone’s tastebuds, what shall we open this weekend?  Some friends of ours are off to sunny Spain on Sunday, so perhaps we should wish them a buen viaje with a couple of wines they should keep their eyes open for?

Macià Batle Margalida Llompart 2019 – £20.99

Bodegas Macià Batle has been making wines in Mallorca since 1856.  This one is a blend of Prensal Blanc, a local variety, and Chardonnay.  It is an almost translucent yellow colour with greenish reflections, with an intense bouquet of tropical fruit, peach, grapefruit, apple and fennel.  The palate is satisfying with ripe peach flavours and a creamy fleshiness that might work rather well with a selection of grilled fish in El Palo.

Torres Altos Ibéricos Parcelas De Graciano 2015 – £17.99

This low yielding grape is usually just a small part of the Rioja blend, bringing medium tannins, deep colour and intense aromas of mulberry, violets and chocolate.  To have it as a single varietal is a bit of a treat (due to the low yields) so it is a regular resident here.  Elegant, with a real velvety palate and a touch of spice from the oak, this has everything we might hope for in a wine and will be a treat with a bit of Secreto Ibérico.

That’s it from us for now, come and see us, buy a bottle of Bollinger and be happy!