Archive for June, 2023

March on Moscow, End with a Cream Tea

Friday, June 30th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, that was a fun weekend.  Waking up on Saturday morning to the news that Yevgeny Prigozhin was marching on Moscow gave us a feeling that we could be witnessing a significant historical event.

A march on Moscow has been attempted before of course.  Napoleon’s Grande Armée took 82 days to reach its gates, whilst Operation Barbarossa took the Nazi’s 6 months before they even got a glimpse of the Kremlin.  Both of these attacks on resulted in failure for the French and Germans, many lives were lost, in no small part due to the horrifically hostile weather conditions.  Prigozhin, in blazing sunshine and temperatures reaching the early 30’s, took a mere 24 hours to give up the ghost and skedaddle off to a comfy dacha in the Belarus countryside.  They don’t make putsch’s like they used to, however, I’m sure this is not the end of this since, as the old adage goes, it’s never a good idea to poke the (Russian) bear…

Meanwhile, Rishi went on record yesterday, after the Court of Appeal decision: “The policy of this government is very simple, it is this country – and your government – who should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs.”

I’m sure the Rwandan government could say the same thing.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees piped up: “We continue to urge the government of the United Kingdom to instead pursue other measures, including cooperation with the UK’s European neighbours and fair and fast asylum procedures, that would be more humane, efficient, and cost-effective” 

But the last word should got to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, founder and chair of the Development and Liberty for All (DALFA-Umurinzi) political party: “If Rwanda is to welcome all its citizens back inside its borders, end the violence in Rwanda and the DRC, and truly emerge as a stable, democratic country that can welcome asylum seekers from around the world, the government needs to tackle the core issues that lead Rwandans to flee and refuse to return home”

Hmm, who to believe….

Away from murky political practices, I am told by our cycling expert that the 110th edition of the Tour de France starts on Saturday, in Spain.  In fact it doesn’t get to France until Monday, which looks like a tough day to me.  Stage 14 finds us in Morzine, where I imagine there will still be no snow and it all finishes in Paris, of course, on 23rd July.  For deeper insight, do please ask my colleague.

I also hear rumours that there might be some tennis due to start nearby but will confirm as and when I know more….

The cricket was a trifle tedious and no-ball laden on Wednesday but the arrival at Lords on Thursday of two of our special correspondents, festooned in red, clearly worked in England’s favour as we managed to get into bat before lunch.  Communication deteriorated mid-afternoon and the last we heard from our men on the ground was at tea, when they wired us a message ‘wine beginning to take hold’ which felt like the St Johns Wood version of: “I am just going outside and may be some time”.

And wine has taken hold here – we’ve been shopping and have debuted some new South African beauties….

Stellenbosch Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2021 (£14.99) – a rich and velvety Chenin from the Helderberg part of Stellenbosch.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Stellenbosch Vineyards Pinotage 2021 (£14.99) – From bush-vines all around 30 years old and a really good example with loads of cherry and plum fruit character.                     

Angus Paul Transient Lands Pinotage 2021 (£22.99) – We loved this, sourced from three plots across the Western Cape.  Summer pudding and bramble fruit lead onto a smooth mineral finish.                                                                                                       

Beau Constantia Lucca 2018 (£27.69) – Winemaker Megan van der Merwe described this vintage as a real pleasure to work with whilst we found it a real pleasure to drink!                                                                                                   

De Toren Z 2017 (£40.00) – We’ve made no secret of our admiration for the wines from De Toren over the years, this is the Merlot dominant one, plummy and delicious.      

De Toren Fusion V 2017 (£46.00) – De Toren’s flagship wine, a Cabernet dominant Bordeaux blend.  Delicious already with polished, fine grain tannins framing the cherry and blueberry fruit and a layered creamy finish.

To celebrate our successful purchases we’ll be opening the Stellenbosch Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2021 and the Angus Paul Transient Lands Pinotage 2021 tonight and tomorrow, so come, have a taste and let us know what you think.

And with that, like a cream tea in the Edrich Stand, we are scone!

Dad Dancing, Caged Tech Bros and Cidre Breton

Friday, June 23rd, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Another week saturated with great news from all sides, as seems to be the new normal.

The Mirror got the ball rolling last weekend by ‘discovering’ that video of Dad dancing at CCHQ during lockdown.  Quite where this video has been up until now is anyone’s guess but it is quite astonishing that it has stayed hidden – still at least it stokes the flames beneath the gigantic cauldron containing the mangled carcass of Boris Johnson’s political career.

I know I risk being cancelled by someone for that last statement.  If I was called Clive and worked for the BBC I would be relieved of my current duties for displaying anti-Tory bias.  However, I think most of us would agree that Mr Myrie wasn’t showing anti-Tory bias, if anything he simply showed anti-Boris tendencies and let’s be fair, nothing he said was slander.

In other parts of SW1, David Cameron, the man in the shadows, had a bit of a turbulent time at the Covid-19 inquiry.  For those of you that don’t remember, Dave was PM from 2010-2016 and was very keen on austerity.  Coincidentally, in the six years leading up to 2020 the value of UK pandemic stockpile fell by 40%; in monetary terms £325m of the health department’s emergency stockpile (including PPE) was lost – not surprised people are a little miffed with DC and that’s before we raise a glass (half-empty) to him today whilst celebrating the 7th anniversary of the United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum.


Elsewhere, the sea is getting warmer; core inflation is at a 30 year high; the base rate is now 5% – last seen in 2008; Elon Musk has challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight and we can no longer listen to Meghan and Harry on Spotify – genuinely, I wish none of this was true, apart from the last bit!

So now we seek better news.  The start of The Ashes had something for everyone, including rain and a full house on the 5th day, the Aussies shaded it with a proper captain’s innings from Pat Cummins.  Truly, if the next four Tests are as exciting we are in for a fabulous summer.  KC3 got his first winner at Royal Ascot yesterday with Desert Hero whilst Wayne has been doing a different sort of riding, out on his bike most days and not yet been caught for doing over 20mph in Richmond Park!  The oversized Discovery’s and Defender’s are back on the local roads which means the tennis must just around the corner and on Wednesday we celebrated the longest day – winter is coming…

Our teenage correspondent in Somerset informs us that she has been banned from visiting Glastonbury whilst other people from her school are actually performing there – look out for The Entitled Sons we’re told, 4 lads (and their Dad) who just happen to call Sarah Beeny ‘mum’.

Should teenage bands not be your thing, the Glastonbury Channel will be live from Friday 23 – Sunday 25 June on BBC iPlayer so if it’s Arctic Monkeys, Blondie, Guns N’ Roses, Rick Astley, Barrington Levy, Candi Staton or even big Reg Dwight, there’ll be something for you here.

When speaking of Zummerzet, it’s hard not to think of alcoholic apple refreshment.  In perhaps the clumsiest segue ever performed in this column, we thought it might be time to talk about our cider from Brittany, which seems to have suddenly become a bit famous.

On 16th June, Charlie Teasdale wrote an article, in Esquire magazine no less, headlined Juicy Gossip: Why Breton Cider Will Be the Drink of the Summer.

I won’t reprint the whole article here because that would be theft but I will share this excerpt:

Until now, Breton cider has been somewhat overlooked, existing as the order of a learned-few – a discerning people who want the Gallic elegance of a bottle of wine and the stoic charm of a beer, for the price of a Zone 1 Guinness. But momentum is slowly building… this, I suggest, could be our Breton summer.

We, and a fair number of you, can now pat ourselves on the back for being amongst the learnèd, discerning few and it now seems fair for us to share our wisdom with the rest of the class.

The cidre that Charlie is discussing is indeed our Kerisac Cidre Breton – £6.00 (1 litre).

Originally founded in the Isac Valley in Guenrouet by Edmond Guillet in 1920, it now belongs to the Agrial cooperative; however the commercial department is run by Laurent Guillet, great-grandson of Edmond, thus the 4th generation of the family to be involved.  They work with 50 apple producers in the region and have a truly excellent product that is full of Gallic character.   A golden pour with a gentle fizz, a nose and mouthful packed with sweet, juicy apples that then lead into a rounded, dry finish.

As it’s going to be warm this weekend, we’ll have the cidre open for tasting and you can all see what all the fuss is about.  Alongside this we’ll have a lightly chilled red from Germany to try:

Hanewald-Schwerdt Spätburgunder 2019 – £16.99 -Pinot Noir from Germany doesn’t appear on everyone’s radar very often but it should!  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 a smoked duck salad!

That’s it from us, have a wonderful weekend and keep your chin up!

90 days

Friday, June 16th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, we have the report from the Commons Privileges Committee and, as suspected, it’s not a great read if your name is Boris Johnson. We suspect that’s why he spat the dummy last week but, in our heart of hearts, we all knew, didn’t we?

Here at Park Vintners we are very heartened to discover there are one or two people in the Palace of Westminster who have the spine to display some integrity in public life and to defend what little is left of our democracy.

But let’s cut to the chase, what could we do in 90 days?

First up, we’ll be ditching our security detail and heading off to Perugia. Our friend’s Daddy has a lovely castle nearby and throws the most amazing weekend parties. He always has great wine, banging music and canapes to die for. We won’t mention the blondes, as Silvio can’t be there.

Then we’ll borrow Bamfies jet and fly over to the States. Do you have any idea what they pay for someone to bumble along with notes from the back of an envelope after dinner? They even give you a free feed too!

Bank balance restored, maybe Mustique on the way back, it’s always good to break a journey with a beach, and we really like this one. Rossy always lends us his house and the gin cupboard is always well stocked; Wilf even has his own armbands for the pool.

Then back to Italy, it’ll be time for another party and I’ve had a break on the passport stamps. That ninety day visa thing really is bothersome, who negotiated that?

That Michel Barnier thinks he’s the big joker. He sent me a link to an article “Here Are 6 Things You Can Do In 90 Days To Get Your Life Together”, it’s full of woke nonsense like helping people and paying off your debts. Doesn’t he know I had it oven ready and rolled out a vaccine?

I’m going to pop in and see Jacob in Somerset, he’s dull and rather smarmy but Nanny’s trifle is off the scale! Might see if Pater is at the farm whilst I’m down there but I suspect he’s off in Greece sulking about the ermine.

Mad-Nads finally saw some sense and realised that by not resigning as an MP she can get two salaries for the same work. Must phone her and ask for Lady Dorries or is it too soon do you think?

Amazing how much can be fitted into 90 days, Phileas Fogg made it around the world in less time. Mind you, Carrie is no Passepartout!

Tasting This Weekend

Given the forecast, we’ll go with something pink in the white corner.

Our parcel of Rosé de Béarn 2022 (£10.99) has arrived. From the foothills of the Pyrénées, this blend of Cabernet Franc and Tannat is really rather scrummy. Pale in the glass, dry with wild strawberry and raspberry notes – bang on with a barbecue, a picnic or just in the garden with some neighbours over the fence!

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 barbecue should be perfect.

With that we’re off, but not before wishing Mr Johnson a very Happy Birthday for Monday, AKA the 3rd anniversary of ‘ambush by cake’ and the beginning of the end!

Sunshine & Gin

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’ll be honest; I’m not sure what to write about today.

Having been hiding in the southern parts of Devon and Spain for the last couple of weeks, away from the news and scandals of British life, I feel strangely refreshed and happily uninformed – an unexpected digital detox and one I would thoroughly recommend.  I also quickly realised that I wasn’t really missing Rishi, Suella, Boris and the gang, in spite of all the joy they bring, because greater joy can be found in a fine platter of chuletitas, a glass of Ribera del Duero and a couple of old friends – who knew?

I fully expect to be fully jaded by Monday but, for now, I’ll happily bathe in the afterglow.

So, what to talk about?  It has come to our attention that this Saturday, 10th June, is World Gin Day.  We assume this is an actual thing having only read it on social media because all of our Gin suppliers have been curiously quiet about it – perhaps every day for them is world gin day.  Certainly I have a number of close acquaintances for whom World I’m-Not-Having-A- Gin-Today Day would be a just once a year occurrence.

Anyway, I’ve found the website and here is what they have to say:

World Gin Day: 10 June 2023

A global celebration of all things gin, held on the second Saturday in June

Organised by everyone’s favourite gin swigging primate: Gin Monkey, the idea is simple: get people together all around the world and raise a glass to the brilliant spirit that is GIN. Whether it’s in a cocktail, a G&T or neat as part of a tasting, let’s celebrate this wonderful juniper-laced spirit in all of its glory!

Discover what’s on in your area by searching for the #WorldGinDay hashtag across social media!

Seems to me to be quite a simple yet effective celebration, so let’s do it… we always have gin open to taste, so what better way to spend 10 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.  The current selection is:

Eclectic Gin

Made for the buying group we are a part of, so only available in about 50 shops

  • Original Blend 40% – £37
  • The Spice Blend 45% – £39

Hepple Gin 45% – £38

Made by our good friend Walter up in the Northumberland National Park and our #1 best seller

Procera Blue Dot Gin 44% – £85

Made in Nairobi with botanicals sourced from across Africa, including Juniper Procera that only grows in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia.

Renegade Gin 42% – £38

Made in Battersea by our local Aussie distiller, Braden, who also makes the now infamous Chilli Bacon Vodka!

So, come and have a taste!

I imagine that for most of you The Portman Group will have little significance.  However for us in the booze business it is a well-regarded social responsibility body and regulator for alcohol labelling, packaging and promotion in the UK.  They have many guidelines and rules one of which is:

Appeal to Under 18s Rule 3.2(h) A drink, its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s

So when we read the following, we thought of this rule:

Freixenet launches sparkling rosé ice pops in time for the summer.  The new 5% ABV frozen popsicles, produced with rosé wine to recreate the light and fruity characteristics of Freixenet Italian Sparkling Rosé’

What on earth could go wrong, when has a child ever asked for a Calippo on a hot day?!

In sport, we’re getting a sneak preview of how the Australian cricketers are shaping up prior to the start of The Ashes and the news from The Oval is a bit scary.  Football sees The Thames Ironworks FC travelling to Europe on Thursday nights next season, whilst Pep needs to stop overthinking things before tomorrow, as City bid to become the second club in Manchester to do the treble.   Speaking of middle eastern sportswashing investment, golf has rolled over in a way previously unimaginable and now has a newly created PGA/LIV Golf entity whose new chairman is Yasir Al-Rumayyan.  A quick search tells me he:

  • is a key advisor to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia
  • was appointed to lead Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund (PIF) in 2015, a fund that has become an increasingly powerful force in the sports world in recent years
  • is chairman of the board for oil giant Saudi Aramco
  • holds board positions with Uber and SoftBank
  • is chairman of Newcastle United
  • has played a key role in luring Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to Saudi Arabia’s domestic league

No conflict of interests whatsoever.

And now to this week’s tasting wines: the white will be orange and the red will be chilled…

Cramele Recas Solara Orange Wine – £13.99 – This estate is owned by Englishman Philip Cox and his Romanian wife Elvira.  Their immaculate vineyards, in mountainous terrain, are a combination of evolved plantings from 1447 and much more recent plantings too.  A natural, minimal intervention wine, it is made by leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the pressed juice, creating a deep orange-hued finish.  The wine ferments naturally without the addition of yeasts, sulphur or any other additions.  The nose exhibits quince, Poire William and a hint of vanilla.  A complex and structured palate, it is elegant with discreet fruit flavours of stone fruits, backed up with a complexity and long, balanced finish, incredibly fresh.

Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ 2021 – £11.99 – hailing from the villages of Jullié and Emeringes, and grown on the sandy granitic soils that produce the best Gamay, this is tender, round and fruity as you’d expect from a pure expression of the grape variety. Awesome lightly chilled with a plate of charcuterie on a sunny weekend!

That’s it from us as we wave goodbye to the tall and tan and young and lovely girl from Ipanema as she goes walking off into the sunset….

Useful Idiots

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I can’t help but feel that if the country’s media was as keen to hold the Government to account as quickly as they have been Philip Schofield we might not be in such a mess. Sadly, it looks like Schofield is just another useful idiot keeping the real issues of the day away from the public’s attention.

Talking of idiots, The Cabinet Office had all of Johnson’s WhatsApp messages, notebooks and other sundry communications and were “reviewing” them before handing them over to Baroness Hallett who is conducting the Covid Inquiry. Then, as if by magic, they didn’t have them at all!

Mr Johnson says he is sure he’s handed everything over to the Cabinet Office (well anything before May 2021 doesn’t count, right?), and, now they do have them again, they are sifting through so that they don’t hand over anything relevant. No sorry, irrelevant. No sorry, my bad, perhaps the word is prosecutable? Do you find that some days you just have trouble finding the right words?

I do think that if you appoint a senior judge to run an inquiry it is surely up to the judge to decide what is relevant. Not Mr. Sunak though. Mr Professionalism, Integrity and Accountability has decided to take the Covid Inquiry to court to avoid handing over those pesky WhatsApps.  Far be it for us to suggest anything as crass as the possibility of a cover up, but to paraphrase a famous line from one of Mr. Johnson’s favourite movies,  “You’re gonna need a bigger blanket!”

Joking aside, you and I are paying for the enquiry, and both sides legal costs here. I don’t suppose anyone has thought to negotiate a bulk discount? Perhaps we can pay on the Government’s Amex so that Rishi’s helicopter flights can be purchased with Airmiles?

On the subject of Amex, in 2004 they ran an advertising campaign featuring none other than  Robert de Niro (79) who has just become a father again. Always seemingly tied together one way or another, his old chum Al Pacino (83) is also about to become a father again. Not sure how either of them will fare on the littl’uns first trip to the skatepark. Closer to home, Alex is just about coming to the end of a round of 50th birthday parties just as Wayne starts on a round of 60th parties. The eating and drinking is good, yet the dancing bad at both. Just the tunes are a bit different! No plans for imminent fatherhood expansion or skateboard lessons on either front.

We’d like to raise a glass and say ‘Chapeau’ to Adam Diver, who, this week, became the first person to swim from the UK mainland to the Isle of Man. He emerged from the sea smiling but shattered and declared the 46 mile swim a bit of a ‘suffer fest.’ The good news, Adam, is you’ve arrived in time to see the TT racing! And before you all start telling me the distance is just 32 miles, because of the tidal movement he had to ‘tack’ in a zig-zag fashion every six hours.

On the subject of swimming, those of you hoping for a summer return to Tooting Bec Lido in August will be frustrated to learn that the refurbishment works have been delayed due to the discovery of asbestos. This means that the scheduled summer re-opening won’t be happening.

As we head towards summer can I just ask a little request? Could we dial down the chilly breeze a little and up the heat of the sun? Quite happy for overnight rain if that’s your fancy, but I really would like some 22˚c days that don’t feel like 17˚c.

I find myself reaching for a glass, so what shall we taste this weekend?

I think we’ll populate the white corner with Paulett’s Polish Hill River Aged Release Riesling 2018 (£21.99). Polish Hill River is a sub-region of the Clare Valley and about a 90 minute drive from Adelaide. We always love the Aged Release that the Paulett’s keep back for a few years in their cellar. Crisp and dry with bags of citrus and minerals and a fab finish.

Over in the red corner we’ll visit North West Spain for a newish one that we listed in April. Las Tres Filas Mencia 2020, Bierzo, Spain (£15.99). We’ve been looking for one of these since our last one went missing in action, unable to survive the combined problems of Brexit and Covid.  As you’d expect from this north western part of Spain, silky in the mouth, medium bodied with dark fruits and just the ticket with some lamb chops, grilled tuna or some aged hard sheep cheese!

Lastly, we’d like to thank Mike Kerr from Royal Blood for proving the spirit of Spinal Tap was still well and truly alive.

The BBC Weekend audience in Dundee were treated to: “Well, I guess I should introduce ourselves seeing as no one actually knows who we are. We’re called Royal Blood and this is rock music. Who likes rock music?”

 “Nine people, brilliant,”

I’m sure they were turned up to 11!