Archive for July, 2023


Friday, July 28th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

I’m sure that if you, like me, have been reading the press this week you are comforted by the news that there is no longer a war in Ukraine, there hasn’t been a coup in Niger and there is nothing to discuss about climate change. The only thing that really matters is Man Baby’s bank account. Seemingly closed after the accidental discovery that he no longer meets the requirements to hold a Child Trust Fund, Man Baby has had an absolute hissy fit. He screamed and screamed until he made himself sick (he can you know) and the fallout has been far and wide, featuring apologies, middle of the night resignations and a rather gleeful Man Baby screaming “ More, more!”

All this has been manna from heaven for our government of integrity, professionalism and accountability. It’s let them off the hook from rethinking a commitment to net zero, a simple inability to encourage anyone to build any houses, dodgy by-election results, and that opinion polls seem not to give them the upper hand.  Not to mention that Flitwick Town Council have written to Mad Nads asking her to vacate her seat immediately so they can get some actual representation.

As we read headlines of stepping back from net zero commitments placed next to pictures of wildfires in Rhodes, Sicily, Corfu and Croatia, we do find ourselves wondering what could happen if the party politics were removed from this. After all, Sadiq Khan seems to be taking a lot of flak for expanding ULEZ, an idea of Boris Johnson’s and imposed on TFL as part of the settlement negotiated by Grant Shapps. Removing the party politics from the conversation may just give us a bit of cleaner air to breathe, and perhaps a less toxic political environment.

Which would be nice.  

On the subject of hot spots and history, should you be avoiding the Mediterranean in your travels this summer but planning a visit to the tropical paradise of the Scilly Isles we have news…

An Iron Age grave discovered on Bryher in 1999 has finally had its mysteries solved by DNA testing. The grave contained a skeleton along with a sword and shield and also a brooch and a bronze mirror. The sword and mirror combination are a unique discovery in Western European Iron Age study whilst the DNA testing of the skeleton’s tooth enamel suggest the skeleton to be that of a woman. Historic England believe the mirror would have been used for signalling and that female involvement in raiding and other local warfare was more widespread than previously thought, laying the foundations for leaders like Boudica to happen. The sword and mirror are in the Isles of Scilly museum, should you be in the ‘hood.

After too many months of absence caused by a series of problems too dull to discuss here, we are chuffed to announce the return to the shop, to the fridge and to Friday Night Fizz, of Leveret IQ Brut NV (£16.99), our delicious traditional method sparkling wine from New Zealand. As a reminder, it’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier aged for 18 months on its lees.

We’ve also gone and bought another beer from the nice folk at By The Horns Brewery. Cherry Berry Sour (£4.25) is a kettle soured beer brewed with sloe berry and sour cherry puree before being dry hopped with a slug of Eureka hops. It’s a fruity drop and, for our palates, a bit less sour than you might think.

Tasting This Weekend

We thought we’d open the bowling with Lumari Lucido/Inzolia, Sicilia (£12.99) a lovely, modern easy drinking white. An aromatic and fresh wine with hints of nuts and citrus made from indigenous Sicilian varieties.

We’ll be rolling the red in from the Pavilion End with Lyrarakis Kotsifali, Crete (£13.99). Kotsifali is a grape variety indigenous to Crete and mostly grown in the Heraklion region. This one has spicy red fruit with hints of herbs and a palate of red cherry fruit balanced with fine tannins and a hint of that herby spice in the finish.

We can’t sign off this week without remembering Sinead O’Connor.

Revisit the album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” and raise a glass.


They’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave

Friday, July 21st, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Spain travel warning as Britons to face soaring temperatures in top hotspots Daily Express 17th July.** (see footnote)

Did you hear?  It’s summer in Europe and it’s hot.  Many, many UK column inches have been printed warning us if the dangers of going to Europe and meeting Cerberus or Charon – last year it was the ferry ports being overcrowded, this year it’s the weather; one is almost starting to feel like there is some sort of animosity between the UK and the mainland!

Glancing quickly at the Spanish and Italian press though, their coverage seems less meteorologically fixated.  La Nazione, in Florence, has a front page headline discussing a local restaurant no longer being allowed to put tables on the pavement, whilst El País is more concerned with power outages due to air conditioning usage, the 143,000 litres of olive oil being sold as Extra Virgen when it’s been mixed with lesser product (two headlines that appear every year, I think), and, of course, the upcoming general election on Sunday.

Not so many headlines about the weather.

However, this does lead us to a heartfelt plea from Wayne who, in case you don’t know, is not going on holiday until September and so will be chief helmsman from now and all through August.  It can get a bit lonely for him so, if you were to decide to avoid the Furnaces of Europe and indulge in a London staycation, he would be delighted to see you and have someone to talk to!  Plus, at the moment, he is juggling watching the Tour de France, The Ashes and the British Open if you’d care to join – not something you could necessarily do in Montalcino.

Plus we’ve got strikes a plenty coming up: the tubes, the railways and the buses are all out at some point in the next few weeks; the doctors are out now; the baggage handlers at Gatwick are also joining in the fun – it definitely feels more and more like you should stay put and drink wine with Wayne!

As we watched our Members of Parliament yesterday scuttle back to their constituencies for six weeks, we applaud Rishi the Reshuffler for keeping members of his Cabinet firmly on their toes.  Nothing quite like going off on holiday on a Thursday completely uncertain of what job you’ll be doing when you get back, if any – excellent people management, almost Machiavellian we’d say.  When you take into consideration the 3 by-elections scheduled for the last day of term plus the announcement, on Wednesday, of a new Tata Gigafactory to be built in Somerset, possibly just over the road from Somerton & Frome, you could be forgiven for raising a quizzical eyebrow whilst reaching for your copy of The Prince!

In our world of wine and associated drinking, all the press is talking about is the duty rise that we warned you about a couple of weeks back.  Further research on our part has revealed that wines over 14.5% will likely go up by £2 on the shelf, which, when we looked at our selection from the valleys of the Rhône, the Barossa and the ‘policella led us to a deep, long sigh.  None of this will happen until August though, so there’s another good reason for you to pop in sooner rather than later to buy wine from Wayne!

As a spoiler, here’s what he’ll have open this weekend:

New Hall Vineyards Bacchus 2021 – £16.99 (equivalent to 23p/ml) – The vineyards of New Hall, established in 1969, are located just outside of Purleigh, Essex and are home to some of the oldest plantings of Bacchus in the UK.  They certainly have the most – 44,500 vines – and supply grapes to a couple of well-known English Wineries that, frankly, are not very close to Essex.  The wine has a vinous, limey nose that leads you into a fruit focused medium dry palate with lovely hints of elderflower and a reassuring zing on the finish – all for a refreshingly low 11% abv!

A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2021 – £17.49 (equivalent to £2.33/10cl) – from Itata in Chile, this is a bit of a favourite of ours.  Over the years we have tried our fair share of wines from the grape variety País and an awful lot of them have been a bit ordinary and we could easily understand why it was, for the most part, distilled into Pisco.  However, this 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 on the barbecue and, again, a refreshingly low 12.5% abv.

And with that we’re done.  I’m off to watch the cricket, he’s off to watch Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – neither of us have managed to get tickets to Barbie, yet….

¡Hasta la proxima!

Wayne & Alex

** We also have heard an interview with the BBC’s Vatican correspondent who was able to confirm that the Pope was indeed a Catholic, followed by an American expert on ursine biology who was able to confirm what bears do in the woods.

The Week That Was

Friday, July 14th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week we started off, as usual, with a Monday. There was no Tour de France as it was a rest day and the third match of The Ashes had ended with an England win, bringing the series to 2-1 in favour of the Aussies. The paperwork got done as usual and some orders were placed.  We discussed the fact that Boris Johnson had failed to hand over his ‘old’ phone by the deadline and now was technically in contempt of court. We wondered if anything would happen.  We looked at the tasting list for the tasting we’d attend in the morning and formulated a plan of action.

Tuesday, and we’re arriving in Camden at the appointed time, well Alex anyway, Wayne suffered overconfidence in the reliability of the Northern Line. We arrived at the tasting to discover that low attendee numbers meant the pressure was on for full feedback on all of the new prospects. Plan of action out of the window, we set about a mammoth tasting for the greater good. Some hours later we emerged with black teeth and sore gums to discover that Mrs Johnson, with impeccable timing, had announced the birth of their third child, Frank Alfred Odysseus Johnson. We treated ourselves to a Pret sandwich and headed back to the shop.

Wednesday arrived on time, Wayne shirking any responsibility for anything by having a day off, Alex shifting a van full of wine around the shop- no gym for him that evening!  Meanwhile in the wider world, Mad Nads has been reported for WhatsApping a top civil servant trying to get on Lettuce Liz’s Honours List. That’s the same Mad Nads who hasn’t appeared in Parliament for over a year, though she has been able to write her newspaper column and host her TV show.  Clearly MP’s don’t have the same attendance rules they set for jobless claimants.

Thursday popped up in the correct position and it was Alex’s turn to swing the lead. Except that the lead was swapped for a golf stick and he had a lovely walk following a Penfold’s No 9 around a very manicured lawn with sand pits. It also turned out that Boris Johnson can’t remember the pin number for his old phone which is why it’s not been handed over. I would have thought that you could ask almost any tabloid journalist for that, or maybe  I would have tried 0000 or 1234 myself! The Tour de France went a bit berserk and I would be telling porkies if I said I actually understood what anybody’s tactics for the day were. To be honest, I’m exhausted, and I was just listening! The top three on Grand Classification remain the same at the end of it though, so we go again today up to Grand Colombier at 1501m – a mountain top finish following a 17.4km climb at an average of 7.1%.

You’ll recall our chum Tim was in exactly that position last week. Fortunately for him they are nearly at the end of their tour which will finish in Paris this weekend. Today is a flat day for them, but does follow back to back mountain days on Mont Blanc. The group together has raised nearly £1m now for Cure Leukaemia. If you’d like to help donate to Cure Leukaemia here is the link: Tim Goodman is fundraising for Cure Leukaemia (

That brings us pretty much up to date, what with it being Friday. If we were to suggest tasting some wine, how would that appeal?

It’s Bastille Day today, so we’ve chosen a couple of wines from France. Waving the flag in the white corner will be Christian Bellang Bourgogne Sous Velle 2020 (£25.75). If you’re a fan of smart white Burgundy then this is for you. Made from grapes sourced in Meursault and aged for 10 months in barrels of 1 to 5 years old, it’s a lovely rich and complex wine which we found to be rather decent value for money.

Charging up the boulevard in the red jacket will be Domaine d’Escausses Cuvée Des Drilles 2020 (£14.99). This cheeky little number from Gaillac is a blend of two grape varieties, Duras (75%) with the rest comprised by Fer. A proper wine of the south west with bright peppery notes, hints of Seville orange, bitter cherry and a really appealing suppleness in the mouth. A real second glasser!

Bikes, Balls and Bouncers. It’s Bonkers!

Friday, July 7th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Greetings from the biggest and busiest carpark in south-west London.  If you can’t find a taxi near you it’s because they are all sitting on Arthur Road, shouting at each other and trying to squeeze through spaces made for a VW Polo and not for a Land Rover Defender, so, if you don’t mind, you’ll have to reverse…

Welcome to Wimbledon fortnight, come and smell the fumes.

As you’ve no doubt read, perhaps even experienced, the security at the All England has been ramped up this year, seemingly inspired by the actions of the Just Stop Oil activists at other events.  The arrival of the updated Public Order Act 2023 in May this year added the ‘Offence of being equipped for locking-on’ to an already long list of offences we can commit unknowingly.  According to our correspondent on the inside, every morning at 5.45am when he arrives to start work for the day, on his bike, he has to explain why he has a lock ‘hidden’ in his bag.  We have now suggested he places his D-lock inside a 1,000 piece Centre Court View Jigsaw Puzzle box (£22, no longer for sale on site) as these seem to sail through security uncontested.

Otherwise, the tennis championships seem to be following their usual course.  A couple of upsets; Venus failed to turn back time but gave us all hope; some plucky Brits got plucked in the first round, and the rain teemed down on some other plucky Brits sitting on Henman Hill, getting their 15 minutes of fame at the end of the BBC evening news.  Having watched Novax play yesterday, we did wonder if it would be far more sporting if he wasn’t allowed to join in until the second Wednesday, just to give some of the others a chance?

Outside of SW19, in Leeds we have a couple of dozen men in white pyjamas throwing a little red ball at each other at sometimes at speeds of over 95mph whilst in the south of France we have a bunch of jokers dressed up in multi-coloured lycra onesies piling up and down hills on their very expensive pushbikes, sometimes at speeds of over 100km/h!  All of these sporting spectacles are hugely entertaining, it’s just a shame that everything is on at the same time!

You will recall that our chum Tim is riding the Tour de France to raise money for Cure Leukaemia. They are riding a week ahead of the professionals, so today are tackling Stage 13: Châtillon-Sur-Chalaronne to Grand Colombier, an 138km mountain stage whilst the professionals ride stage 7 an almost pancake flat stage to Bordeaux that may see Mark Cavendish break a record.

To donate to Cure Leukaemia here is the link: Tim Goodman is fundraising for Cure Leukaemia (

Westminster will not be providing the fodder for our moans this week, at least not directly.  When I mentioned car fumes earlier, it reminded me that local boy and London Mayor incumbent, Sadiq Khan, has made the 29th August (Tuesday) the day that ULEZ spreads over the whole of London.  For those who exist outside the London bubble, what this means is that from this date onwards petrol cars registered before 2005 and diesel cars registered before September 2015 will have to pay £12.50 every day they are driven.  Sadly what this will mean for us is that our longest serving member of staff, the Volvo will be retiring.  Years of good service will perhaps be rewarded with a happy relocation to the Cornish sunshine – I don’t believe Lower Sticker will be inside the zone in the very near future…

But before we get to that end of August, we have some unfortunate news coming our way on August 1st (Tuesday, again). 

As I’m sure not a single one of you will remember, the Chancellor’s Budget on 15th March announced changes to alcohol duty.  Duty will now be calculated on a new ABV-based system and, simultaneously, will be subject to a 10.1% RPI-linked increase.  In simple terms, this means that wines of different ABV will pay different amounts of duty, except for wines of 11.5%-14.5% ABV that for now will pay the same duty as a 12.5% ABV wine until 1st February 2025, when it will become more complicated.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  I won’t bore you with any further technical details; suffice to say, in shop terms, what will happen is

  • every bottle of wine will go up by £1
  • every bottle of Port will go up by  £2

I know, miserable.

On the upside, this doesn’t happen until the end of the month and we can still fill the Volvo’s gigantic boot up to the roof for another 50 days – so, anyone need a top up?

If I can’t tempt you to stock up, hopefully I might be able to tempt you at least to taste the wine I have open this weekend?  We are going to open a couple of Italians today because we haven’t had either of these for a while.

For the white, we have Produttori Del Gavi ‘Gavi Mille 951’ 2022 – £17.99.  Made at their winery overlooking the historic Gavi fortress, this cooperative has been making wine for over 65 years.  Aromas of pear peach, apricot and yellow plum greet us on the nose whilst on the palate we have the same fruit characters with hints of almond in the background.  Dry, light and moreish, ideal on a warm summer evening.

The red hails from far further south, Puglia, and is Tufarello Nero di Troia 2019 – £14.99.  Nero di Troia is the grape here and the name attests to its Greek influences – it is said to take its name from the nearby town of Troia, named by the Greek invader Diomedes.  The wine saw a limited amount of oak treatment to soften the natural grape tannins and is deep red in colour with purple hues.  There is a good depth of sour cherry and blueberry fruit on the palate, with supple tannins, good acid and length.  A good all-rounder as they say…

That’s it from us, enjoy your weekend and make good use of all that charcoal!