Archive for February, 2023


Friday, February 24th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Firstly, a quick reminder that we will be closing at 4.30pm today.

It is our annual pilgrimage to provide drinks for the Kings College Quiz Night. We don’t know any of the answers if you’re coming, but wish you every success.

Looks like salad days are over, with several supermarkets rationing your access to cucumber, tomatoes and peppers due to a bit of a shortage. It is of course down to chilly weather in Morocco and Almería. Nothing at all to do with the Government refusing to include farming as a key industry when handing out energy subsidies, despite warnings from the National Farmers Union that exactly this would happen when no glasshouses were planted.

Channelling her best Marie Antoinette, Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a solution, suggesting that we embrace turnips to help alleviate the shortages. That’s the same Minister who suggested people using food banks should work a few more hours.

In the interests of science, and so that you don’t have to bother we looked at the possibility of a Greek Salad. A Greek Salad would normally consist of Cucumber, Tomato, Pepper, Onion, Oregano, Feta and Olive Oil.

Thérèse Coffey would suggest Turnip, Turnip, Turnip, Onion, Oregano, Feta and Olive Oil as a suitable replacement. Just doesn’t have the same kind of appeal for me I’m afraid.

News reaches us this week that the world’s last dedicated Meccano factory will be closing at the end of the year. Invented in 1898 by Frank Hornby and marketed as Mechanics Made Easy until its name change to Meccano in 1907. Apparently it has been in decline in popularity since the late 1950’s. I guess 3D printers are the new Meccano, eh?

We wondered if this week’s shenanigans on the Welsh Rugby front weren’t just Wales getting their excuses in early but what do we know? We know that Mr Sexton will not be fit to face Italy but suspect that Ireland will cope. England will be without Mr Tuilagi but will probably see the return of Mr Lawes.

On the cricket front, it’s turned out alright thanks to Harry Brook and Joe Root alhough we feel we should also mention Jimmy Anderson becoming World No1 bowler again at the age of 40!

In real sports, it is opening weekend for the road racing season. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the traditional season opener is on Saturday. Both the races start in Ghent, the Men’s at 11.15 and the Women’s at 13.30. We’ve no idea who will win the Men’s race but one bit of sage advice we heard was to keep an eye on Arnaud De Lie in the Lotto Dstny team. In the Women’s race it’s difficult not to talk about Annemiek Van Vleuten defending last year’s win but think there’s a decent chance of seeing Zoe Backstedt on the podium. As always staying upright will be key!

On the wine front, in the red corner we’re going to open Domaine des Mailloches Bourgeuil 2019 (£13.49) Located in Restigné, in the heart of the Bourgueil appellation, Domaine des Mailloches is an old vineyard dating back over 100 years. Family owned for 8 generations , today it is Samuel Demont who farms the 16 hectares of Cabernet Franc. We think it’s fresh red and black fruits and rich but supple palate would be perfect to partner with Pan Hegarty!

The white (orange) corner will be the Cramele Recas Solara Orange 2021 (£13.99). We tasted this Romanian beauty again this week and were reminded how delicious it is, why not come and discover if you agree with us?

So, as mentioned earlier, we’ll be off to the quiz night at 4.30pm – find out tomorrow if the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!


CCTV, Skiing and Skating

Friday, February 17th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

How are those ski slopes?  Have you been elegantly swishing to the left and to the right making gentle soundwave patterns down the mountain? Or do you tackle the slope head on whizz straight down the mountain in a more ‘Spy Who Loved Me’ sort of fashion?  Here in Wimbledon Park we’ve had some lovely sunny days, the doors been open and the sweater stayed off till late afternoon. Skiing? Not so much.

Whilst we’re on the subject of spies,  a large number of police forces, the Ministry of Defence, The National Crime Agency and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary have all been taken to task for using video cameras made by Chinese firms despite flagged security and ethical concerns. Just imagine, the UK could be one great Truman Show, or we could all be Candid Camera stars on Chinese Central TV and not even know it.  At least we won’t have to worry about all those pesky balloons!

Whilst we’re talking Canada it’s capital, Ottawa, is home to the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink. The Rideau Canal Skateway is 4.8 miles long and normally welcomes around a million skaters between January and March. None at all this year though as Ottawa is experiencing one of its mildest winters ever and the temperature has not been cold enough to freeze the ice to a safe depth.

In Margate, a new work of art by Banksy appeared. Entitled Valentine’s Day Mascara, the comment on domestic violence features a 1950’s style women with a blackeye and Marigolds pushing her husband into a freezer. The only trouble with it is that the freezer has been removed so our hero housewife is left on the wall with just her husband’s legs which seems a bit more sinister than perhaps intended!

Now often when I get to this part of the Weekly Wine I begin to notice that I have completely forgotten where I was heading when I started out. This week is certainly one of those, the swishing left and right was key, but key to what exactly? I think I might have to abandon that idea as one of those known unknown items in the weekly briefing!

We could mention Kier Starmer announcing that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be a Labour candidate at the next election, we’ll see how that plays out, I can’t see him going quietly. Meanwhile, Starmer has headed off to Kyiv to assure Mr Zelenskiy that nothing would change under Labour. After Wednesday’s flag laden press conference I’m beginning to wonder if plans aren’t afoot to make him appear rather statesman-like!

Not much noise on the Conservative front, 30p Lee-anderthal is spouting all sorts of nonsense that’s best ignored. The blond scarecrow, still not in Uxbridge and West Ruislip, has been ranting about the expansion of ULEZ, conveniently forgetting it was originally his idea!

On the wine front, anyone with $35 million down the back of the sofa might want to cast an eye over Juslyn Vineyards in St Helena, Napa Valley. Lord and Lady Butler who own the estate on Spring Mountain are selling up, wanting to downsize. Seems a great opportunity for the area, they even have a well which is increasingly important in parched California.

This segues nicely into a glass of wine. After the flooding and landslides experienced in New Zealand this week we thought we’d show some solidarity with them.

White-wise we shall open Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (£21.99). This probably needs little introduction now, but safe to say we still think it’s the best NZ sauvignon we’re being offered. More restrained than many from this region, with a lovely zesty complexity.

Running around in the red corner will be Clos Henri Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2019(£20.99). The Bourgeois family behind 10 generations of Sancerre growing in the Loire were so excited about the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc arriving from Marlborough in the early 1990’s they headed out and bought some land. Planting was finished in 2003 and the estate is now farmed organically. We think it rather ace, come and tell us what you think.

One Hit Wonders, Alpes and Valentines

Friday, February 10th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome aboard this week’s musings from the coldest ship on Arthur Road.  We can’t be the coolest because obviously Saucer & Cup and Whisk will always take that, so we’ll stick to what we’re good at, whilst keeping our fuel bills down low-low.

The news is not the place for us to find our entertainment this week – the greed of our politicians firmly put into the shade by Mother Nature reminding us all that there are greater powers at work, that the real world outside of SW1 can be a truly cruel place and that life is more precious and valuable than any pot of cash.

So, we looked for our distractions elsewhere.  In sport, where we often find succour, it was a mixed weekend for the PV staff. 

The Everton match on Saturday did not make Wayne smile as much as he usually does and the Scotland Rugby team’s visit to Twickenham was successful once again, the second time in 3 years that they have bested England at HQ and the third time in 50 years – good start, Mr Borthwick.  A key moment in the match was when Scottie ‘Duhan’ van der Merwe (born Edinburgh, May 2017) showed the world what can happen if six of your opposition haven’t quite got the hang of the new tackling rules yet.  A great, great try, without a doubt.  We’ll be waving our green passports this weekend though, when the World’s #1 team goes up against the World’s #2 at the Aviva….

Meanwhile, we imagine many of you will be waving your passports at us as you ski-daddle off to foreign climes for half term fun and games.  Whilst you are packing and deciding what to take out of the already overflowing bags, remember that next Tuesday is 14th February – Valentine’s Day.  So, take out that extra sweater and replace it with a card and a half bottle of Champagne – we recommend Lété-Vautrain – £17.99 – and that way you will be well prepared for that moment on Tuesday when ‘oh, I don’t think we should really bother with Valentine’s day’ turns into a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates!

On a separate, and completely unrelated, note – should you need some conversation starters for those awkward chairlift silences – the Number 1 songs today in 1983 and 1993 were Down Under by Men At Work and No Limit by 2 Unlimited – proper one hit wonders that should get you all singing!

Anyway, back to Valentine’s Day.  According to BBC Good Food, these were the four most popular Valentine meals, based on what people searched for last year:

  1. Steak with peppercorn sauce
  2. Dauphinoise potatoes
  3. Spaghetti carbonara
  4. Beef Wellington

So, what have we learnt?  I imagine steak is probably one of their most searched food items anyway; everyone likes Dauphinoise and if you’re in the French Alps, it’s local; carbonara is quick and easy whilst Beef Wellington feels more suited to the polygamists/polyandrists amongst us!

However, that’s not going to stop us tasting some wines this weekend that might be suitable for Tuesday…

Domaine Treloar ‘La Terre Promise’ 2019 – £19.49 – This is a lovely rich blend of Grenache Gris, Macabeu and Carignan Blanc from our chums Jonathan and Rachel at Domaine Treloar down in the south of France.  From 35-60 year old vines, it has a lovely quince and buttered toast character and is made with natural yeasts and minimal sulphur.  Named after the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Promised Land’, this is a wine that we don’t put on tasting nearly as much as we would like to and frankly it would be an absolute joy with a plate of cheesy taytos.

Sottano Selección Blend 2019 – £18.99 – This is a blend of Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Franc; dark in the glass as you’d expect and with lovely aromatic berry aromas with a hint of violets and wood smoke. The palate is rich and layered with cassis and berry fruit notes, coffee and wood spice with a touch of black pepper to end on. It worked well with a rib-eye, and we’re lining it up for some ox-cheeks, which apparently is the secret ingredient for a Beef Wellington for two!

That’s about it for us, a kind gentleman from Brussels has just passed me a Vegemite sandwich – there are no limits – although sadly it seems Burt Bacharach has reached his limit – mind you, six Grammys, three Oscars, 73 Top Forty hits in the US and 52 in the UK wasn’t a bad life’s work!

The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me, it won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me…

Groundhog Day and Intellectual Visionaries

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, at the risk of bringing rain to anyone’s parade, it’s been rather Spring-like this week, hasn’t it?

Stood here in Arthur Road we see a lot of life passing our window. Sons and daughters who seemed to be in buggies just last week walking from school on their own in smart new blazers, football crowds on the way to Plough Lane and grumpy traffic tooting with impatience at that oversized lorry trying to reverse around the corner to go back the way they came. Why don’t they update their SatNav?

Boris Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, could be that oversized lorry. His constituency office, about 19 miles up the A40 from Westminster, really should update his SatNav. In the last fortnight he’s taken more than one serious wrong turn. Firstly, he pitched up in Kyiv, some 1500 miles to the east of Uxbridge, possibly in the belief that he was James Cleverly. Returning from Kyiv he seems to have overshot by some 3650 miles and ended up in Washington DC having a chat with the Speaker of the House. Perhaps he’s pretending he is still Prime Minister. Maybe, all along, he has been Mr Benn?

It could, of course, just be a distraction from the fact that the National Audit Office is investigating the state funding, to the tune of £220,000, of his legal defence against the “Partygate” investigation by the House of Commons Privileges Committee. This will, of course, determine whether he committed contempt of Parliament – an allegation he denies. Personally, I think a man who made £1 million last month by after dinner speaking can afford to pay for his own defence!  Dominic Raab may have shouted at his last civil servant, it looks like we’ll hear sooner rather than later. Finally, in a sign the world really is still slightly crazy, there is talk of a comeback from Lettuce Liz Truss. Talk is that she’ll try and position herself as an “intellectual visionary” who was misunderstood at the time.

In other news, Shell has announced the biggest profits in its 189 year history, clearly switching from seashells to oil in the 1880’s has paid off! Centrica has admitted that contractors working for British Gas broke into vulnerable people’s homes to fit prepayment meters, something that thankfully Ofgen has banned this morning! The Bank of England raised interest rates as did the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy has ordered an investigation after allegations that broken bolts on HMS Vanguard were fixed with glue. The terrifying part is that HMS Vanguard is a nuclear submarine and as far as we can see on our tube of No More Nails it doesn’t seem to mention nuclear coolant pipe insulation!

The transfer window slammed shut on Tuesday with Chelsea the big spenders, spending £288 million, which is more than all the transfers in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 added together. How big is their team bus now? No pressure Mr Potter!

Meanwhile, 2nd division Portuguese side, Oliveirense, have signed 55 year old Japanese player King Kazu on loan from Japanese club Yokohama. He has previously played in Brazil, Italy, Croatia and Australia and has plans to play till he’s 60!

Saturday sees the return of the Six Nations with a returning Gatland-inspired Wales hosting favourites Ireland in the early game (14.15) at Cardiff whilst Twickenham will be filled to the rafters as England host Scotland (16.45). I still have Italy’s name for the wooden spoon despite them beating the Wallabies in November and they play France on Sunday (15.00)

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film Groundhog Day (yes really), I would just mention that Phil saw his shadow this year so, according to folklore, Pennsylvania will have six more weeks of winter!

Tasting this Weekend

We thought we’d take a trip to Chile. Representing the white corner will be a family favourite at Wayne’s house…

Aromo Viognier 2021 – £9.99 – from the Maule Valley, one of Chile’s traditional wine growing areas, just about 250km south of Santiago.  There’s not a great deal of Viognier planted there but when you taste this you’ll wonder why.  We really rate this wine and have been selling it for over 10 years now, one way or another as it is consistently great value, great quality with lovely peachy-apricot fruit characters and a nice crisp finish. 

Whilst sneaking into the interesting red category will be…

A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2021, Itata, Chile – £17.49 – over the years we have tried our fair share of wines from the grape variety País.  Most of them, to be fair, have been a bit ordinary and we could easily understand why it was, for the most part, distilled into Pisco.  You can imagine the eyes rolling when this was poured into the glass.  It is not like any of the others.  Really lifted aromatic fruit on the nose, fresh and juicy, almost spritzy even in the mouth and with really fine tannins.  A proper vin de soif that’d be perfect with some slow cooked pork.