Archive for January, 2024

Tail End of January

Friday, January 26th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

That I’m typing this suggests that we have successfully reached another Friday, and that most of the 4000 days of January are now behind us.  So, group hug, that’s quite an achievement.

We thought we’d start this week with the tale of Betty Brussel. Betty was born in Holland in 1924 and moved to Canada in 1959. Having learnt to swim as a child in the canals near Amsterdam, in her mid-60’s she took up competitive swimming when she decided to race in the British Columbia Senior Games. Last Saturday, she took more than 4 minutes off of the World Record 400 metres freestyle in the 100-104 year old age group. Not content to sit on her laurels, competing in five events in total, she also set new records for the 50 metres backstroke and 50 metres breaststroke. An impressive lady I’m sure you’ll agree.

Talking of impressive, Simon Clarke MP, who was in charge of Levelling up in Lettuce Liz’s government, has written an article suggesting that the Tory party is facing extinction at the next election. Apparently, Rishi Sunak is not the person to lead them into the next election and it is time for a new leader. Are we all dead keen to witness some more Tory energy focussed on choosing yet another new leader? They do, after all, seem to have an almost endless pool of top talent available.

Sadly for us, the MP’s themselves seem to think there are more important things to be getting on with. Apparently, war in the Middle East, war in Eastern Europe and interfering with Channel shipping really is more important.  Indeed Mr Clarke has been described somewhat disparagingly by his colleagues as:  “getting silly”,dangerous, reckless, selfish” and “throwing his teddies in the corner”. We’re guessing that’s a NO then Simon!

Across the pond, US democracy seems determined to continue to eat itself. Donald Trump has managed to find time between his court appearances to attend a couple of Republican Primary Nominations. He won both; Ron DeSantis withdrew from the race leaving just Nikki Haley in the way of him and the Republican nomination. I do sometimes wonder what on earth everyone is thinking!

Elsewhere in the world, after some off-piste commentary on Darts and Snooker we seem to be moving over to more familiar sports again. That said, I’m not entirely sure the first test in India has got off to the start England were hoping for. On the plus side, Six Nations Rugby starts next week and if you fancy a behind the scenes warm up I think the docuseries has just popped up on Netflix.

In wine news, hot on the coat tails of price rise reports comes news that Champagne shipments fell last year. It would appear the Champenois haven’t linked cause and correlation yet and are keen to push on with further price rises as mentioned in a previous message.

The Pope has declared that wine is “a gift from God” and “a true source of joy” for its consumers. A sentiment we can certainly get on board with, as have many Italian wine producers.

Because we’ve been around the block a few times and generally pay our bills in a timely fashion, we do occasionally get offered interesting things. We have today been offered such a thing by the agent for Chateau d’Esclans. There is a limited edition case available of two bottles each of their three estate wines for 2022. These are generally regarded as the crème de la crème of Provence rosé and I know one or two of you have ordered these wines from us in the past, so I thought we would put it out there. I have attached full details, there are only 180 cases are available in the UK and they are priced at £529.99 for the six pack. If you would you like one do come straight back to me and I’ll order it for you. 

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start off in the white corner with a bottle of Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2021 (£17.99). The estate is still family owned and into the fifth generation. Back in 1912 Ernest Wente imported a selection of different Chardonnay cuttings from a vine nursery in Montpellier. He then selected those that showed the healthiest character and best flavours, before grafting the best two together. Ultimately he created what is known as the ‘Wente Clone’. These days around 75% of the Chardonnay plantings in California are of the Wente Clone.

The red corner belongs to Australia this week. Seppeltsfield Barossa Grenache 2022 (£25.99) will be raising its screwcap in a salute to today’s Australia Day. Seppeltsfield are regarded as true pioneers of the Australian wine industry, the estate was founded in 1851 by Joseph Seppelt. In 1888 they installed one of the world’s first gravity fed cellars which, following restoration is back in use today.

Both of these wines are delicious so do come and have a taste with us.

With that we’re done.       

Burn’s Night and Losing Parks

Friday, January 19th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Greetings from the coal-face, or perhaps that should be cold face.

According to mid-afternoon yesterday, when the sun was out and the sky was as cobalt as a blue poison dart frog, the temperature in London was 3° Celsius.  We were 33rd in the 50 ‘European’ capitals charted – Valletta, Gibraltar, Athens, Monaco, Tirana were all about 20° Celsius whilst Riga, Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm and Moscow were all between -5° and -10°.  No real surprises in any of this, just good to know we could be colder… or warmer.

Darwin, at the same time (about 2am for them) was 29°.

Meanwhile, in Kigali they were having thunderstorms whilst experiencing temperatures similar to Monaco, which was enjoying sunshine – peas in a pod really.  Speaking of Rwanda, Rishi’s bill seems to have avoided a revolt, for now, however its next stop at the Lords might not be so easy. Of course, skirting human rights law should not be as easy as imprisoning postmasters,  however if the worst comes to the worst, Paul Kagame has said he could return the £240 million they have received, which could be used to extend the Fujitsu contract for a few more years…

We didn’t save Wimbledon Park Golf Club but we still have a hope that the AELTC plans for the park won’t succeed.  This starts to feel like there is a real risk of a dangerous precedent developing when we read and then, further up north  Can we really continue to build on green space to satisfy wealthy sports businesses?  Discuss.

Meanwhile, back in our igloo, Wayne has been out hunting and gathering neeps, tatties and haggis this week, in advance of Burns Night next Thursday, 25th January.  As ever, an opportunity to eat offal and drink whisky is hard to pass by and this year we’re recommending:

Mary Queen of Scots 12 year old Blended Malt – £40.00 

Blended by Ian Macleod Distillers in Broxburn, near Edinburgh this comprises a minimum of 12 Premier Single Malts, all 12 years old, to reflect the 12 years in total which Mary Queen of Scots spent in Scotland. Premier Malts use only the best Scots barley in the distilling process to achieve the traditional unique flavour which is the pride of Scotland and beyond.

Royal Mile Whiskies described it thus:

Nose – Caramelised white fruits topping American style pancakes.  Caramel sauce and a malty hint come through as well.

Palate – Toffee notes and more white fruit lead the palate before a slightly prickly dryness introduces a malt barley body.

Finish – A slight sugary sweet hint comes and goes as the malty flavour combines with just a whisper of smokiness.

Whilst Archie, at Luvians in St Andrews had, for me, the best note:

A total breakfast whisky – Golden syrup drizzled over old school drop scones, Frosties with full cream milk and wee glass of Ovaltine on the side.


Of course, we have other drams to offer, for example:


Benromach 10 year old – £45.00

Benromach 15 year old – £70.00

Longmorn 2005 – £70.00


Dalmore 15 year old – £98.00

The Glenturret 12 year old – £70.00

Tomatin 12 year old – £44.00

Tomatin 12 year old Amarone Edition – £73.00


Bunnahabhain 10 year old (Peated) – £58.00

Bunnahabhain 11 year old (Sherried) – £58.00

Caol Ila 13 year old – £58.00

Finlaggan Old Reserve – £36.00


Canmore Original Single Malt Whisky – £40.00

London Square 12 year old – £40.00

Mary Queen of Scots 12 year old Blended – £40.00

However, if you’d rather enjoy a fancy bottle of plonk with your pluck, we might suggest trying the wines we have on tasting this weekend.

Cave de Hunawihr Reserve Pinot Gris 2021 – £18.99 – Grapes for this wine are from 30 year old vines, grown on the south-facing slopes, at around 280m above sea level.  The wine is quite full-bodied with enticing peach and pear aromas.  The palate is packed with stone fruits as the nose suggested, a touch of spice and a lovely viscosity before the long, fresh, fruit-driven finish.  On the back label, it describes itself as medium dry, full-bodied and smoky – how can one resist?!

Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine 2020 – £21.49

So, this is from Lirac which is across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a more famous region with which it shares many winning attributes.  The grapes in this wine are a hand harvested blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre which gives us the powerful and well-built wine we’d expect.  A complex nose of vanilla, fruits and dark cherries, the mouth is rich and firm with again those dark cherries and long lasting notes of vanilla and pepper whilst the finish is smooth and rich with a very good length – should be perfect on 25th January!

That, I think is that from us.  Not sure if we’ve mentioned it before and apologies if we are repeating ourselves – this month we offer a January Sale/VAT bill fundraiser whereby if you purchase 6 bottles we’ll give you a discount of 16.66%!  That’s 6 for 5 in old money and covers most of the wines in the shop with the exception of some of the top-shelfers that make little margin!  We can tell you more when you turn up with your empty car boot….

Right, I’m off to defrost my typing fingers!

The good old BUY SIX, PAY FOR FIVE mechanic

Friday, January 12th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re not even half way through January but 2024 is already starting to feel a little bit meh.

Why we thought a change of year would suddenly make a huge difference to the status quo I don’t know but hope we did.  However upon reading this ‘tweet’ by the Member of Parliament for Witham:

I was pleased to pay tribute to the brave sub-postmasters whose fight for justice has captured the nation. Since I was elected in 2010 I have fought their cause in Parliament because for me this is personal. Post Office and Fujitsu must be held to account.

We realised that it was business as usual in Westminster – tell a big fib in order to enhance your reputation whilst arrogantly expecting everyone to accept it as fact – and Hansard soon proved this.

Meanwhile, Rev Paula has handed back her CBE when she should really be handing back her bonuses and Fujitsu shares seem to be bouncing back from last week’s drop…

But it’s not all bad news – we could all be working for Brewdog who have generously dropped out of the Living Wage Foundation but have pledged to pay their ‘crew’ the legal minimum wage, which is clearly a good way to improve staff retention.

Knowing how much you have missed his sports reporting, Wayne is keen for you all to know that there has been plenty of Cyclocross to watch over the holidays, so if you are a fan of grown-ups cycling around extremely muddy fields, this is for you.  He also wants you to know that he fully supports the selection of Andy Farrell as head coach for the Lions tour Down Under in 2025 but is at a loss to predict who will be the fly half in the starting line-up.

Very little news in the world of wine save that prices seem set to rise again.  As Bollinger informed us a week or so back, their increases are due to the price of grapes rising by as much as 10% combined with increasing costs of labour, energy, and packaging materials, from paper to foils and cases, as well as, most importantly, glass, which is up 40%. 

Happy, happy days.

With this in mind, why not future- proof your wine drinking a little by dipping into our annual January ‘sale’ – the good old BUY SIX, PAY FOR FIVE mechanic. 

It’s as simple as it sounds – choose 6 bottles and we promise to give you a 16.6666% discount off this purchase, which we think is a pretty decent offering?  There are a few exceptions to this offer – spirits, top shelf Champagnes and wines that we only get a small allocation of but, apart from these, there are still plenty of bottles for the discerning shopper to choose from. 

Some of you have already taken full advantage of this deal and will likely return for round two but many of you are yet to dip you toes into this wine lake.  We suggest you don’t tarry too long, we’ve got lots of empty cardboard boxes waiting to be filled and we have more stock now than we’d like to have on the 1st February when we return to the standard 5% off 6/10% off 12 discount so, in this instance, it’s worth being an early adopter….

Sales pitch done, what shall we open this weekend?  I reckon a couple of Spanish speakers from our £100 Case Club might fit the bill nicely:

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2021 – £18.49

Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza – one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Argentina.  Its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes.  This Chardonnay has citrus and tropical fruit notes, gently underlined with vanilla from the oak, which is delicately balanced with both fruit and freshness.

Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel Lecco Crianza 2019 – £21.99

It took us a while, and involved kissing a lot of frogs but finally we found a suitable replacement for the Emilio Moro.  This is 100% Tempranillo from 30 year old vines aged for 14 months in a mix of 70% French and 30% American oak.  A complex and rich wine with a medium body, dark red fruit character, a touch of coffee and touches of spice into the long, lingering finish.  Slow roast lamb anyone?

So, shake off that early January ennui and take a walk to your local wine shop – a spot of exercise rewarded by a nice box of wine, perfect and we can raise a glass to JPR and Franz, two sporting giants who pulled the cork this week…


Happy New Year and a January Sale

Friday, January 5th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to 2024, we’ve had a word with the powers that be and had it extended by a day just because it’s going to be so much fun. It does mean some things will have changed though. Those of you with a birthday after February will have to wait a day longer to blow out the candles, those of you born on 29th February actually get to have a birthday this year and those of you with birthdays in January can proceed as normal.

In other news, we can’t help but wonder at different parenting styles. So many parents spend their weekends touring cold wet touchlines around the Home Counties watching junior play rugby, football, cricket or hockey.  Sometimes it’s a combination of those sports or, indeed, others. Special waterproof coats with zip in liners are purchased for when it’s really cold, and certainly too many petrol station sandwiches are consumed. Luke Littler’s parents just took him to the pub didn’t they? Who thought a young lad could generate so much excitement around darts eh? Quite the achievement, especially eliminating your hero on the way!

We will be offering our usual January Sale terms of six bottles for the price of five. That’s the equivalent of a whopping 16.6% discount. As usual, if we’ve had to beg for an allocation of something it’s excluded from the sale. Otherwise, do feel free to come and empty the shelves.

If you’ve sworn off for the month we do have the rather tasty Belle & Co Alcohol Free Sparkling (£5.99) – Made from grape juice and infused with green tea, it offers a lovely hint of white flower aromas and is zingy and fresh on the palate thanks to its well-balanced acidity. Belle & Co has no alcohol, low sugar, no gluten and around half the calories of the average fizz – what’s not to like? It is also Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.

With apologies for our brevity this week, we’ll wish you health, prosperity and laughter.

Wave on your way to the gym and a Happy New Year!