Archive for March, 2024

Thursday The New Friday

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to Thursday, the new Friday for one week only. It’s not often we make excuses for brevity but this week we might have to make an exception.

We’ve been stock counting this week it really is as dull as you can imagine and takes the best part of a day. Not ideal when you’re already wrestling with a shortened week but it’ll be different next year, our year end doesn’t move around like Easter.

Outside in the world, the party politicals are all gearing up for a local election campaign. We’ve already seen New York subway footage falsely used to describe London, Labour mocking the successes (!) of levelling up and all the while child poverty is moving in the wrong direction. Still.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. For their 2025 session Saudi Arabia has been chosen as chair. I’m not sure had them in my Top 10 of candidates but we all love a surprise. Reports the Garrick Club have offered to host are, apparently, somewhat wide of the mark.

We learnt this week that water companies up and down the land have been pumping raw sewage into our rivers for 4 million hours. That is the equivalent of 5.6 average lifespans for a human in the UK. As someone who likes to swim outside this really makes my blood boil. We also learnt that rowers have been warned not to go into the water after discovery of E Coli in the Thames (I wonder how that got there).

In sports news this week, the Boat Race is on Saturday. The women’s race starts at 14.46 and the men’s at 15.46. As far as I can see Oxford appears to be favourite to take both.

Whilst on the subject of sports, I’d like to talk about the Barkley Marathons. Participation of the 100 mile race is by invitation and the course has a 60 hour cut off time. The challenge is obviously the distance, but more so the amount of ascent and descent, which is the equivalent of around two Mount Everest’s. This week, the UK runner Jasmin Paris became the first woman ever to finish the race, arriving at the line with just 99 seconds to spare. Truly inspirational stuff, especially given that she is only the 20th finisher since 1989.

Whilst on the subject of tough sports, Classics season in the cycling is in full flow with the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday. The race should have everything looking at the forecasts with strong cross winds on what should have been the easier part of the course. Looks like it’ll be worth tuning in if you have time!

I’ve got this far without mentioning that it’s a long weekend! So put on your comfy shoes, search for Voodoo Ray on your smart speaker and dance like it’s the first time you’ve heard it.

We’ll be open…                      Good Friday 12-5pm

Saturday 12-6pm

Then we’ll be back as usual on Tuesday.

That leaves me to talk about what we shall taste this weekend.

We’ll start off with a trip to Piemonte for a sample of Gavi Folli e Bonato (£17.99) before have a dash north through the mountains to alight in Burgundy for a taste of Beaune to be Wild (£30.99) a red burgundy made without the addition of sulphites.

That leaves me to wish you all a Happy Easter and just say if anyone has a 2009 Cheval Blanc knocking around, we haven’t lost one in the stock count, but do have glasses and a corkscrew if you need any assistance.


Red Wine from Montalcino, What’s Not to Like?

Friday, March 22nd, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Just to follow up from last week, Kemi Badenoch has told us that we all need to move away from the Frank Hester row and that the general public don’t really care about it.

Read the room, Kemi.

More locally, last weekend saw the annual elections to the Executive Board of Park Vintners Limited. 

Once again, the combined post of Executive Chairman and Managing Director was up for grabs and the shortlist of candidates had been whittled down to two – Wayne, the incumbent, and Alexei, the token opposition.  Wayne has held the role of Executive Chairman since 2010 and, following his Constitutional Revision of Monday March 23rd 2020, (coincidentally the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown) the role was combined with that of Managing Director, in perpetuity. 

It was a free and fair election, with 100% turnout and it soon became clear that Wayne’s time on the hustings the week before would pay off, as he received 470 votes to Alex’s 71, a truly remarkable performance when one considers only two votes were cast… however, Alex did keep his seat on the board and looks forward to taking the minutes at any meetings – it is a dumacracy after all!

In a happy coincidence, Wayne’s hunting buddy Vlad P was also fairly elected for another term this week…

Hopefully though, Wayne won’t emulate his pal by considering the implementation of a 200% duty on wines from ‘unfriendly’ countries and members of NATO that has been proposed by the Association of Winegrowers and Winemakers of Russia.  Good news for Russian wineries, also those in Argentina, Chile, South Africa and perhaps China but even better news for those working in the black markets!

Hopefully Wayne won’t emulate Harrods by listing French Bloom La Cuvee Vintage 2002 though.  This is the brainchild of French model Constance Jablonski and Maggie Frerejean-Taittinger, who spent time working for the Michelin Guide and is married to the Rodolphe, whose great-grandfather perhaps founded Taittinger.  As the tasting note goes:

An exceptional vintage French sparkling wine, reveals all its complexity when tasted, like a great wine full of singularity.

Crafted from organic French Chardonnay grapes, this French sparkling wine surprises with its depth and complexity upon tasting.  Despite its youthfulness, it exudes the character of a well-aged sparkling wine at its pinnacle, boasting a richness of aromas and flavors that defy expectations.

Sounds quite tasty to be honest and the revelation that it is 0% alcohol shouldn’t necessarily dissuade us from trying it as alcohol free wines seem to be improving by the week

However, what does dissuade us is the shelf price of £109 per bottle (including wooden box) – Seedlip eat your heart out!

Happily, the wines we have on tasting this weekend will contain more than 12% alcohol:

Vina Robles Viognier 2020 – £23.49

How Hans Nef, a civil engineer from Zurich, ended up with a wine estate in California is a story… he discovered Paso Robles in the mid-1990s and quickly became enamoured with the emergent wine country.  Here, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranch-lands and cowboy ambiance (and who doesn’t love a story with cowboy ambience?), a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles 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 a great wine for a hearty Sunday roast.

 Il Palazzone Vino Rosso NV – £24.79

The Il Palazzone philosophy is based around terroir and tradition; they believe that it is the Montalcino terroir which is responsible for the character of its wines, that the winemaker’s job is to do as little as possible and simply allow this to be communicated and that the traditional methods do this most effectively.  Reflecting this ethos, the Rosso del Palazzone is a blend of different vintages, so they cannot put a year on the label.  The wine is produced with Sangiovese grapes and is an authentic expression of Tuscan terroir.  Whenever possible, they declassify a portion of their Brunello to be blended with the Vino Rosso barrels to result in greater complexity.

Born of a desire to return to the tradition of “Il vino di tutti i giorni”, the Rosso is definitely a second glasser, revisiting the ideas of the old customs of wine and food of the people in Tuscany and Montalcino.

Red wine from Montalcino, Alex – what’s not to like?!

Before we send you back to your desks, a spot of Bank Holiday admin:


Thursday 28th March – Noon – 7PM

Good Friday 29th March – Noon – 5PM

Saturday 30th March – Noon – 6PM

Easter Sunday 31st March – CLOSED

Easter Monday 1st April – CLOSED

Tuesday 2nd April – As you were – Noon – 7pm!

Finally, I’d like to thank the Executive Chairman for giving me the opportunity to type this email today; it’s been an honour and privilege to serve him!

Indecent Proposal

Friday, March 15th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Indecent Proposal (1993) – Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson

David Murphy and Diana Murphy have been together since high school and get married. Everything goes well until the recession strikes and they go through financial turmoil. In their last attempt to revive their financial situation, they decide to gamble in Las Vegas, where they meet John Gage, a very rich man, who offers them $1,000,000 to spend the night with Diana. Out of desperation, they both agree to do it and forget it forever. However, it begins to erode their relationship. (IMDB synopsis)

A film that courted much controversy at the time, dealing with many taboos, amongst them the power that money can have over everything else:

  • I guess there’s limits to what money can buy.
  •  Not many.
  • Well some things aren’t for sale.
  • Such as?
  • Well you can’t buy people.
  • That’s naive.  I buy people every day.

Anyway, we digress.

The Conservative Party have been in government since 2010.  Everything goes well until the recession strikes and they go through financial turmoil.  In their last attempt to revive their financial situation, they decide to gamble in Las Vegas take sizeable party donations, from amongst others Frank Hester, a very rich man, who gave them £10,000,000 in the year up to March 2024 perhaps to help with the NHS, having previously said: “We are here for our NHS.  We are here to help.  Not to drive profits for shareholders, or to grease revolving doors” and also having profited from £135,000,000 of NHS contracts between 2019 and 2022, during the Covid pandemic. 

Out of desperation, the Tories refuse to return any of the money and agree amongst themselves to forget forever any racist, misogynist and threatening behaviour, because the multimillionaire has shown ‘genuine remorse’.

However, it begins to erode their relationship with the British public, once again.

Apparently you can buy people, every day.

I’ll stop here though, just in case Mr Gove decides to continue his journey through the dictionary and re-define the meanings of freedom of speech and censorship.

Still, it’s not all bad news in Westminster as we hear that MP’s will get a 5.5% pay increase in April.  This knocks into touch the piffling 2.9% they received last year and isn’t too shabby when you add in the NI savings of around £700 – trebles all round!

Looking elsewhere for our fun, it seems we managed the unmanageable by beating Ireland at Twickenham last Saturday which was a fantastic achievement matched only by Italy’s win in Rome.  Wayne is back from his Riviera recharge and, as such, is not fully up to speed with the cycling but I’m sure he’ll be full of it by next week, you have been warned.

The Cheltenham Festival finishes today; Alex won big on Captain Guinness on Wednesday but was down yesterday so his tipping form is definitely in need of calibration.

Wine continues to sell and we continue to buy.  With this in mind, we will be opening later on Monday 18th March as we have yet another tasting to go to (nothing to do with it being St Patrick’s Day on Sunday, promise) and will only be back in the shop for 3pm, sorry.

I think this is the last of these for a couple of months; hopefully the fruits of our labours will appear on our shelves soon.

To clear some space, what shall we taste this weekend?

White will be a posh Albariño from Galicia, a place with average rainfall levels almost matching those we have in SW19… Granbazán Etiqueta Ambar 2022 – £25.79 has fresh, almost tropical aromas then stone fruit and citrus on the palate with a creamy texture, mineral notes, vibrant acidity and classic saline characters.  Quite ripe and complex in style with fresh balancing acidity and a classic saline character.

The red will be a claret, to celebrate victory in Lyon: Domaine Valmengaux 2016, AC Bordeaux – £27.79.  This is from Verac, which is situated between Pomerol and St Émilion.  The wine, made possible by a group of 50 friends forming the business, is certified organic and the vineyard farmed on biodynamic principles.  Minimal use of oak and 10% aged in amphora give us a real juicy moreishness.  100% Merlot, this is dark in the glass, with some lovely damson character, velvety tannin and a lovely long finish.

Finally, should you need something for Sunday, JJ Corry The Gael Batch No. 2 – £73 might be the smart answer. 

In 2015, these guys resurrected the lost art of Irish Whiskey Bonding which is the practice of sourcing new make spirit and mature Irish Whiskey from Irish distilleries and maturing, blending and bottling unique whiskeys.  During the ‘golden age’ of Irish Whiskey (in the 19th and 20th centuries), there were hundreds of distilleries operating on the island of Ireland.  These distilleries made their new make whiskey spirit and sold it wholesale to the Bonders to age, blend and bottle.  The Bonders were the publicans, grocers and mercantile owners.  They would travel to their local distillery with their own barrels, fill them up with new make spirit and then cart them home for ageing and then blending.  Bonders were present in every town in Ireland, giving rise to regional styles.  Sadly, the Irish Whiskey Industry collapsed in the 1930s and the few remaining distilleries cut off the Bonders’ supply, leaving Irish Whiskey Bonding to die out.

The Gael Batch No.2 is a 60% Malt and 40% Grain blend comprising of

•           30% single malt bonded in 2002

•           26% single malt bonded in 2003

•           4% single malt bonded in 1991

•           40% single grain bonded in 2010

Aromas of shortbread, peaches and cream and sweet grass fill the nose, complemented by notes of lemon drizzle cake, honeycomb, rye bread and thyme throughout the palate.

Batch No.2 was of just 2800 bottles.


We do this so that you don’t have to, be grateful!

Friday, March 8th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Once again I need to start with a point of admin relating to the coming week:

Tuesday 12th March – we’ll be opening later today as we have to go to Camden for a big old range tasting with one of our main suppliers – we should be back here by 4pm though, just in time to meet you off the tube after work!

But now back to now – how’s your week been?

Monday found me nose to nose with the paperwork from February – 29 days’ worth of coffee chits and uber receipts that I had to gently return to my colleague, explaining for the 159th month that we have to pay for our own drinks and transport, even if we do drink the coffee’s at work… as you can imagine, the hours just flew past.

Tuesday was better.  It found me in a club on Grosvenor Place, surrounded by uber-smart wines and men with waxed moustaches wearing suits with brooches of grapes on their lapels – yes, I was in sommelier land.  Usually sommeliers don’t leave their lairs during service but if I list the wines that were on show, you’ll understand why all the smart restaurants in Mayfair were being run by trainees that lunchtime…

So here’s a snapshot of what these chaps were tasting, amongst others:

Louis Roederer

  • Brut Vintage 2015 – crisp, fresh, lean and taut, plenty of potential
  • Cristal 2015 – delicious

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Grand Cru “Kitterle” 2013 – awesome, off-dry, loads of fruit and starting to develop beautifully


  • Le Volte 2022 – oh yes, this has it all, fruit, balance and superb length
  • Le Serre Nuove 2021 – more structure here with drier tannins and good length
  • Ornellaia 2021 – soft and subtle and plenty of development potential


  • Brunello di Montalcino 2019 – 5/5 vintage.  That’ll do, absolutely spot on
  • Brunello di Montalcino 2011 – beautifully evolved and smooth, can I have a bottle please?

Tenuta San Guido

  • Le Difese 2022 – still very youthful
  • Guidalberto 2022 – more body weight and actually more pleasurable
  • Sassicaia 2021 – smooth as silk, gorgeously long – is it worth the RRP??
  • Sassicaia 2007 – from a double magnum, he really didn’t want to share this, I think it was for people with ties on however, I got a glass and safe to say, it’s proper kit!

La Rioja Alta 904 Selección Especial Gran Reserva 2015 – very good rich, ripe fruit and opulence

As we’ve said to you over and over again, we do this so that you don’t have to, be grateful.

Wednesday saw me back in the shop with my Egg & Cress and a pile of tasting notes to write.  The chancellor told us “We value our hospitality industry and we are backing the great British pub” but only until February next year it would seem.  To be honest, having, subjected alcohol duty to the largest increase in almost 50 years within the last six months, he couldn’t really do anything else.

Thursday was long and cold, with more tasting notes and the realisation that it was still light at 5.30pm – we’re getting there!

And now it’s Friday, with the happy prospect of a Six Nations weekend where we are fully expecting 3 home wins and tries galore.

I’ll drink to that.

This weekend we’ll be opening another of our new whites: Primordial Soup – £8.99 from the Western Cape, South Africa. 

Primordial soup, also known as prebiotic soup, is the hypothetical set of conditions present on the Earth around 3.7 to 4.0 billion years ago.  In wine terms, we’re talking about this delicious blend of Chenin Blanc and Colombard.  It tastes much fresher than a billion years or two of age suggests too, gentle citrus and orchard fruit characters being the main flavours.  It also comes in at a midweek friendly 11% ABV. 

Wayne is recommending poached haddock and mustard mash, halloumi and salad or just a cheese toasty for partnerships…

For the red, we’ll stay in South Africa and have a go at the very fancy Idun Syrah 2019 – £25.99 which I don’t think we have ever put on tasting before, even though we have had it for 4 or 5 years!

A complex wine from 3 different vineyard sites in the Elgin Valley.  These parcels are situated 200 m above sea level caressed by the cooling sea breezes from the Atlantic a few kilometres away. Rainwater is retained in the iron-rich clay and cobble soils which results in low yield and flavour concentration.  Due to COVID, the wine was matured for longer than usual (16 months) using 30% new French oak barrels.  A lovely savoury bouquet of black olive, spicy fruit and white pepper on the nose.  On the palate we have berry fruits joining in the fun finishing with fine ripe tannins giving us a very elegant drop.

Finally, a public service announcement for anyone who was ever born, which I imagine includes quite a number of you:

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.

Champagne is in the left hand side fridge, by the wall, if that helps…

Iechyd da!

Friday, March 1st, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Wow, that was a long month!  Anyone who is used to celebrating their birthday, in normal years, the day after 28th February has been made to wait an extra 24 hours this time round and I know for a fact that amongst those celebrating today are my wife’s daughter, my son’s sister and my niece’s cousin – many happy returns of the day to all of them!

So, as it’s now March 1st, St David’s Day, it’s the the day we always celebrate how very Welsh we are.  Wyn has got a daffodil salad for lunch, whilst Alecs is sporting a rather splendid leek in his buttonhole – both are looking forward to bakestones at teatime with a pint of Brains later on but don’t want to be drawn into talking about the rugby or the value of spoons made of wood…

However, by Saturday, it’ll all be over and we’ll be English again, gazing at the drizzle, contemplating mid-table mediocrity and saddling up our horse to slay a dragon….

… and reading the wine news.

One of you, who shall not be named for reasons that will soon become apparent, directed us towards the following story.  A new wine has been released, called Simp Wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, made in Walthamstow, apparently using grapes from Spain and Lebanon rather than Wanstead and Tottenham.  Anyway, at this point things become a bit more interesting and frankly we ended up going down a bit of a wormhole, thanks Matt.  With a nod to a traditional method of grape crushing, the grapes for this wine are crushed by feet but not just any feet.  The feet involved belong to a lady called Emilie Rae, who is, according to Matt Wikipedia, a foot fetish influencer and Only Fans content creator, whatever that means.  However, by all accounts, people pay £40/minute to look at her hooves, which means that she is a very successful businesswoman, with 320,000 followers all clamouring to buy her wine proving that she certainly knows how to monetise her ‘brand’.

The wine is limited release (no confirmation of how many units) and is retailing at £100 per bottle, which is a clear bargain for a wine made by Tony Mortimer and Brian Harvey, particularly when you take into consideration that a bottle of Grand Puy Lacoste 2006 from us costs £98!

As a footnote (!) to this whole tale, on the wine website they claim that all the grapes were crushed by Emilie and to support this they show a video of her feet in a bucket of…. white grapes!!

Moving away from the Weird World Web, our next piece of news comes from GQ, because we like to look sharp and live smart, as you can tell.  The article we were reading was reminding us of the nine shared factors that the longest lived people on earth seem to share, even though they may live in Sardinia, Japan, Costa Rica, California or Greece.  The list, on, doesn’t necessarily seem hugely surprising – exercise, eat better, manage stress etc or as Dan Buettner puts it:

  • Move Naturally
  • Purpose
  • Downshift
  • 80% Rule
  • Plant Slant
  • Belong
  • Loved Ones First
  • Right Tribe

And most significantly

  • Wine @ 5 – People in all blue zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly.  Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers.  The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food.  And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

Have to say, we wholeheartedly concur.

Sport offers us little this week:

“Everything I have built in my professional career has been taken away from me” – thus spake Paul Pogba, after he was banned from football for 4 years for having elevated levels of testosterone in his system, both in an initial test and the follow up B test.  It’s so  refreshing to see the gazillionaire footballer taking full responsibility for everything.

As it’s not far from 5pm, we should probably prepare some wines for tasting over the weekend.

For the white we’ll be visiting Italy again and opening an old favourite: Cantine Colomba Bianca Vitese Grillo 2022 – £13.99.  Grillo is a crossing of Catarratto and Zibibbo and has lovely lifted citrus and tropical fruit character, a touch of minerality, great mouthfeel and a zesty finish.  Established in 1970, Colomba Bianca are dynamic, very quality focused and also just happen to be the biggest Italian producer of organic wine – so a winner all round then: a diverse, gut friendly organic wine that’s perhaps great for your plant slant!

Obviously the red has to be a Cannonau and San Costantino Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 2022 – £19.99 seems the perfect fit.  Cannonau is the most important red wine grape native to Sardinia, and possibly the oldest variety in the Mediterranean being the origin of Grenache or Garnacha.  The 15 hectare vineyard is located on a gentle slope between Alghero and Sassari and is run by Giampaolo Parpinello and his son Paolo.  It has a deep red colour, medium bodied on the palate with mature red fruits, a touch of white pepper spice and a nice elegance to the finish with some gentle dryness of tannin framing those red fruits really rather nicely.

And with that, we’re on our toes, as Emilie might say!