Archive for April, 2024

We delved through all the waffle so you don’t have to!

Friday, April 26th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Only 6 more sleeps, how exciting is that?

Thursday 2nd May gives us all the opportunity (providing we’ve got photo ID) to choose who will be our next Mayor.  If we look at the form book, we should be expecting an Eton educated Tory, having had two labour incumbents, both of whom are local boys and certainly didn’t play the wall-game.  Having looked at the mini-manifesto booklet, it appears that the Tory candidate is actually Susan Mary Hall, who also didn’t play the wall-game and thus the form book goes out the window.

Now, what does the Mayor have to do?  According to they are responsible for:

  • Making plans, strategies and policies for Londoners
  • Acting as the executive of London’s government and managing a £20.4bn budget to run transport, police, fire services and investing in London’s housing. Part of the council tax levied by London’s councils is set by the mayor to help fund these services
  • Acting as a representative for the capital at home and abroad

We have 13 candidates to choose from and we can only make one choice in this election, so we need to get it right first time, people.

11 of the candidates chose to pay the £10,000 to promote themselves in the MY VOTE DOESN’T COUNT pamphlet and here are the York Notes:

Femy Amin (Animal Welfare Party) – People, Animals, Environment – some nice, vegan-based ideas including the aim to become a global leader in opposing speciesism and the sale of foie gras and fur is rejected – no mention of police or ULEZ

Rob Blackie (Liberal Democrat) – unusually, no punchy strapline – fix the Met, support the NHS and, rather excitingly, tackle the sewage dumping in the Thames!

Natalie Campbell (Independent) – I will take a zero B.S. approach to rebuilding London – build homes, bobbies on the beat, affordable transport

Howard Cox (ReformUK – London Deserves Better) – London needs Reform – obsessed by ULEZ and cars generally

Amy Gallagher (SDP) – Stand Up To Woke – make public transport pleasant, build houses, reduce rents, scrap ULEZ and LTN’s

Zoë Garbett (Green) – It’s time for a Green Mayor – as a councillor, I hear how Londoners need better housing, safer streets and reliable, cheaper transport

Tarun Ghulati (Independent) – Empowering Growth Through Trust – more police, more tourism, scrap ULEZ and LTN’s, free school meals, minimise council tax

Susan Hall (Conservative) – We’ll fix the issues that keep Londoners up at night – more bobbies on the beat, scrap ULEZ expansion and LTN’s, build houses

Sadiq Khan (Labour) – Now let’s go even further – Sadiq is in the unique situation where he can reference what he has done over the last 8 years, including a pledge to end rough sleeping by 2030 which, if he were to see it through would be in his fourth term, 14 years after he came to office.  No rush.

Andreas Michli (Independent) – Make London Strong – end knife crime, fix the police, scrap ULEZ, build houses

Nick Scanlon (Britain First) – No To Immigration – deport illegal immigrants, stop immigration, close down migrant hotels, protect our monuments and, of course, abolish ULEZ and Congestion Charge.  It’s a no from me…

The 2 candidates who didn’t stump up the promotional readies were:

Count Binface (Count Binface for Mayor of London) – To Take The Piss Out Of The Thames, Vote Binface! – also planning to price-cap croissants and renaming London Bridge after Phoebe Waller.  Like Rob Blackie, he also puts the Thames sewage problem front and centre.

Brian Rose (London Real Party) – A Campaign for Freedom – which in along with scrapping ULEZ etc also involves making London the financial capital of the world once more by making our capital the centre of the crypto, web3 and blockchain industries.  For someone keen on finance, you’d have thought he’d have scraped together the £10,000 with ease…

Sadly, the St George’s Flag wearing hooligan that calls itself Laurence Fox failed to fill in its candidate form correctly and thus won’t be standing whilst also picking up a fine of £180,000 for being obnoxious – not a good week for the pound-shop Farage.

Oddly, not one of the candidates seems at all interested in the Fire Brigade and, if Sadiq’s figures are correct that more than 90% of cars are ULEZ compliant in the zone, then surely it seems a bit daft for so many of them to be banking on the Uxbridge Strategy to sweep them to power.  Thus, I think I’m more likely to go with one of the two candidates who has put the health of the Thames in their crosshairs, I’ll decide which one on the day!

And there you have it, Mayoral election in a nutshell – we delved through all the waffle so you don’t have to!

In the world outside politics, it’s been mainly cold with bits of showery stuff. 

The worlds of wine and sport collided unexpectedly last weekend as Tom Gilbey, a thoroughly engaging wine trade eccentric, hit the headlines when he decided that running the London Marathon for over 4 hours was far too much time away from his vinous pleasures, so he proceeded to blind taste a wine every mile of his journey – chapeau!  Obviously, having done the Denbies Bacchus half-marathon a number of times, the concept of drink-running is something we have long endorsed.

Arsenal won, Liverpool lost, Man City won and will doubtless win the League, whilst AFC have settled for mid-table mediocrity.  Bike-boy tells us that despite the fact that everyone knew exactly where and exactly when Pogačar would make his move last Sunday, none of them could do anything about it and he proceeded to win by a couple of minutes.

And what about those Red Roses.  Having been knuckle-rapped for not covering the Women’s Six Nations, I proceeded to watch the clinical destruction of an Irish team that seemed to be addicted to staring straight into English headlights – 88-10 is a scoreline even Bristol would be envious of!

And so to wine.  A survey by Aldi into their customers wine buying habits cast many pearls but what stuck with us was that 47% of those surveyed considered themselves knowledgeable about wine whilst 89% wished they knew more and that a desire to impress friends was a significant factor in purchasing decisions.

The good news for us is that 53% of folk don’t consider themselves knowledgeable, which hopefully means that our jobs are safe for a few more months!

However, to help make us all more knowledgeable we, as might be expected, will be opening a white and a red today for tasting and to hopefully impress your friends with…

For the white, we will dip back into an old favourite that hasn’t shown its face on the tasting table for a long time:

Domaine Jouan Menetou Salon 2022 – £18.99.  Menetou-Salon is a small appellation of around 300 hectares right next to Sancerre, to the south-west.  Here the Sauvignon Blanc vines are planted on Kimmeridgian limestone soils, very similar to those of Chablis and similar minerally notes can be detected in the wines.  It has always been the case that a bit of careful hunting and tasting can find you some real gems that rival its more famous neighbour in the quality stakes.  Fresh and floral with aromas of citrus and blackcurrant leaves and elegant mineral tones and a long finish – excellent value for the canny shopper!

The red we have chosen because we haven’t had it for a while and the wine itself seems to be suffering a bit of an identity crisis.  When we first took this vintage it was called ‘Tradition’ in a Bordeaux bottle but with the latest re-stock we discovered it is now called ‘Intuition’ and comes in a Burgundy bottle – same wine, insane winemakers!

Château Viranel Tradition/Intuition 2017 – £18.99.  A fabulous Saint Chinian estate, which has been in the same family since 1551.  This cuvée is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache Noir, 10% Mourvèdre, and 10% Carignan.  A supple drinker with cherry, violet and liquorice notes and a palate, framed with velvety tannins, of rich dark black fruits and a hint of chocolate from the oak.  We think we’d like to try it with the winemakers suggestion of lamb shoulder stuffed with herbs.

And with that we’re gone.  Hopefully our election rundown was useful – bike-boy has just informed me that when Binface gets in, he’ll petition that Chelsea Bridge gets renamed Wayne…

Over and out.

Proper Sports…

Friday, April 19th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We have witnessed, over a good number of weeks, a lot of running happening. People passing the shop with a backpack on, clearly having run back from the office whilst others are settling in for a long run with a CamelBak on, the tube dripping down their arm as they pass. All this rather points to Sunday and the 2024 London Marathon. First run in 1981, the London Marathon has had over a million people run past the Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge and raise their arms on The Mall!

This year chasing the spoils, we have the Women’s World Record holder, Tigist Assefa, the Olympic champion, Peres Jepchirchir, and Ruth Chepngetich the fourth fastest woman of all time. I’ve not seen the start list for Elite men but I’m sure we’ll be seeing a stellar line up as usual although probably without He Jie….

I have just read that the average man takes 55,374 paces and the average women 62,926. We’re not sure that tells the full story though, before you run a marathon you have to do a fair amount of training, with a long run each week that seems to get ever longer. That’s a lot of extra steps we’re adding there. Some of our longer standing readers may recall that we both ran the 2014 edition of the London Marathon we didn’t run much together in training but did one time run from here up to and around Hyde Park and back, and another time three laps of Richmond Park.

Lots of steps.

In the end, Wayne completed it in 4.27 and Alex in 4.40 having queued for 7 minutes for a comfort break at Tower Bridge. We raised over £3,000 for The Children’s Trust and each expended over 5000 calories.  We enjoyed our pizza that evening, the stairs to the cellar on Monday morning? Not so much. 

So, where am I going with all of this? Reader, I wish I knew. If you’re running the marathon this week enjoy it, all the hard work is done. Enjoy all the northern soul blasting out of the pubs you pass, the drummers, the cheers, the tears and the amazing sense of achievement that follows. You got this.

In other news, certainly for the older folk amongst us, it’s been known as a Snickers since 1990.

As unlikely as misinformation from us might be, I find I have to apologise for being a little bit early with my discussions on Record Store Day last week. Actually, it is happening this week, no, honestly, it really is. I am staying with my choices though. To remind you, I went for X-Ray Spex album ‘Germ Free Adolescents’ and Horace Andy with Sly and Robbie ‘Livin it Up’.

In UEFA news, Manchester City and Arsenal are both popping their passports back in the drawer for this season whilst West Ham and Liverpool get their Thursday evenings back. In the cricket, Essex top the Counties table but it is really rather early in the season.

Meanwhile, in proper sports, we say ‘chapeau’ to Stephen Williams who became the first British winner of La Fleche Wallonne. It was a really tough race with awful weather and even snow for much of it. ‘Chapeau’ also to Kasia Niewiadoma, who won the women’s edition.

This weekend sees the last of the Ardennes Classics with Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday where it’s difficult to see past Tadej Pogačar in the men’s race, the parcours suits him better than high flying Matthieu van der Poel, though Tom Pidcock seems to be in fine fettle too.

In the women’s race will Demi Vollering defend her title from last year? She certainly has the form but I’m hoping for a win for Pfeiffer Georgi who’s been so close in the last few. As always, watch out for seasoned campaigner Marianne Vos, she’s not known as the GOAT without reason.

To paraphrase a Fast Show character, this week we shall be mostly tasting Italy.

We’ll start off with Cà dei Frati ‘I Frati’ Lugana 2022 (£26.49). A random conversation with a customer about a fabulous wine he’d had at a client dinner reminded us of this wine. We re-tasted it, remembered why we loved it and puzzled over why we had forgotten about it. Why not come and see for yourself? 

We’ll move onto Cantine Povero ‘Dianae’ Barbera d’Asti 2022 (£15.99) a rather fabulous red from the Piemonte. It’s a natural wine without the weird bits, being made without the addition of extra sulphites. Bang on with a spot of duck.

Lastly, having mentioned it last week, we couldn’t leave without sharing a bit of Lettuce’s book with you.

“I had become increasingly concerned that Britain’s judiciary had become a self-perpetuating oligarchy, Here was a group of similarly minded people from similar backgrounds who had a particular worldview and were resolute in protecting their own interests.”

How’s that for self-awareness?



Friday, April 12th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well here we are again, Friday rearing its head to welcome the weekend and we need to begin with an apology.

One of our cricket experts pointed out to us, quite correctly, that last week we’d used the words “willow” and “leather” without also including the word “thwack” – for this we bow our heads in apology and will now trudge back to the pavilion on a duck.

Back to the weekend, it’s a warm one and the horses running the Grand National may be a little confused; it can’t be that often they run on heavy ground in 20˚c. 

We’ve had a week of chit chat about whether Angela Rayner should be paying tax of £1500 on a house she sold over 10 years ago before she became an MP. We have had not so much chit chat about Michelle Donelan’s libel case costing the taxpayer an extra £19,000 on top of the already declared £15,000 settlement. The extra money is for legal advice, £7,785 of it to government lawyers and a further £11,600 on private counsel. One wonders why we have government lawyers if we’re then going to spend money on private counsel as well – almost feels like people are lining their pockets, again!

Whilst we’re on the subject of folks named Michelle, I would just point out that Monbeg Genius has been withdrawn from the Grand National. The horse is owned by Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman and I have to say I’m a little disappointed, given the heavy going, having something on fast track could have been a winning strategy.

Lettuce Liz has been on the airwaves again, anybody would have thought she had a book out. Well she does, it is called “Ten Years to Save the West” and costs £20 if you pre-order it. Given her track record I suspect a donation of £20 to the Trussell Trust so that somebody could have some lettuce would be more use.

It’s Record Store Day on Saturday. Lots’ of limited vinyl releases abound, some actually really limited! My picks might be X-Ray Spex ‘Germfree Adolescents’ album on a 1000 copy picture disc for a pitch perfect pop punk album from 1978, or perhaps 1000 copy first time on vinyl for Horace Andy with Sly and Robbie ‘Livin’ It Up’ from 2006. Whilst we’re on the subject of tunes, Robert Miles’ anthemic ‘Children’ is now 29 years old and is just the song for a sunny day like today!

So, over to the Grand National. As we mentioned it looks like the going will be heavy and a warm day for all involved. We’ve had a perusal and come up with Minella Indo, Noble Yeats and Latenightpass. As usual, caveat emptor, we’re normally fairly rubbish at this sort of thing.

For the stick swingers amongst you, it’s the US Masters in Augusta this weekend. The usual wander around a beautiful course that nobody else is allowed to play on and at the end win one of the coveted green jackets. We’re looking at Jake Knapp as an outsider, Ricky Fowler who’s always good on a Par 3 and frankly owes us and Akshay Bhatia after his cracking form last weekend.

In real sports, both the men’s and women’s Paris Roubaix last weekend were great spectacles of bicycle racing, De Brabantse Pijl midweek started the transition from Flanders to the Ardennes but first, we’ll look forward the Amstel Gold Race this weekend. I’ve no idea who’ll win however I’m hoping for Pfeiffer Georgi in the women’s and Joseph Blackmore in the men’s but think there is a risk of disappointment…

Given how cheap and easy it is to ensure your 18 year old on the family car, it seems odd that the government has decided to lower to 18 the age at which one can drive a bus or coach. It would appear recruitment has been challenging and the transition from Polo to Routemaster is considered child’s play.

After that, I need a drink. If you’ll join me we’ll be opening Percheron Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2023 (£9.99). We have chosen it mostly because there’s a horse on the label if I’m honest. Wine wise it’s a lovely drop from old bush vines in the Western Cape.

Wearing the red cap we’ll zip off to Chile for a slurp or two of Sierra Grande Pinot Noir 2021 (£10.49) a wine with strawberry and raspberry fruit and soft tannins that’s almost indecently easy drinking.

As we say goodbye to OJ, we’d just offer up this thought. If OJ hadn’t done what he did, we may not have had the Kardashians…

Who’s taller?

Friday, April 5th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

And now it’s April, it’s summertime and the world still seems to be in a bit of a tangle.  Looking into the archives, it seems this is not a new situation – on Friday 5th April 2019 we wrote:

‘News reaches us that Ukraine may be in line to get a comedian as President. Leading the race in first round of Presidential elections is popular TV comedian Volodymyr Zelensky. I see no problem with it at all; we have 649 jokers in our parliament, whilst the US has a TV star in the top role who definitely knows his oranges, what could possibly go wrong.’

Whilst on Friday 5th April 2013, we seemed a tad chilly:

It’s been snowing too much recently, it’s been too damn windy and frankly our small oil-fired radiator is having to work too hard.  If it wasn’t our own business we would take industrial action against our inhumane working conditions.  The Bordeaux we had on tasting last week became a study in tannins as the shop chilled down whilst the Eiswein was standing there in his shorts and flip-flops wandering what all the fuss was about.  Oh and I may well have started hallucinating…

So what news does Friday 5th April 2024 bring us?

Well, firstly that we missed the party of the year on Wednesday evening, when everyone’s ‘favourite’ Nigel turned 60.  With a guest list of luminaries including:

  • Lee Anderson
  • Arron Banks
  • Nick Candy
  • Derek Chisora
  • Lizzie Cundy
  • Jim Davidson
  • Sir David Davis
  • Mark Francois
  • Andrea Jenkyns
  • Andrew Rosindell
  • MT Stevens
  • Richard Tice
  • Georgia Toffolo
  • Liz Truss
  • Holly Valance

I have to say, we were very glad to have missed out

Interesting fact about Nigel.  Wayne bumped into him many years ago, just off Victoria Street and noted in his Filofax that Mr Farage was far shorter than him but not as short as Gilles Peterson (funny what comparisons people make) – anyway, work that into a dinner party conversation this weekend and we’ll buy you a drink!

In the world of booze, conflicting messages are coming from all sides.  In one article we read that Nyetimber, the famous sparkling producer, has agreed a deal in principle to buy The Lakes Distillery, a Cumbrian producer of single malt whisky and other spirits, in a £46.1 million deal.  Nyetimber would also inherit a debt of £25.8 million upon acquisition, bringing the true value to approximately £71 million – that’s a lot of bottles of fizz to shift!

Elsewhere, Adnams, the Suffolk brewery with over 1oo years in the trade, has made noises in the market that it wouldn’t be against the prospect of a full sale of the company, given the parlous state of the industry currently and the marked increase in insolvencies.

So one company is looking to accumulate whilst another is considering getting out completely – who will prove to be right?

Meanwhile, Glyndebourne, the famous Sussex Opera Festival, has announced that Bolney Wine Estate is now their official wine partner, which is very exciting news.  More exciting still, you don’t have to wait until the Summer, take a drive down the M23 or pretend to like Opera, as you can pick up a bottle of Bolney Estate Foxhole Vineyard Brut Reserve NV – £33.00 from usright here in Wimbledon Park!

Elsewhere, we welcome back the sound of leather on willow as the County Championship cricket season starts today and will continue until 29th September, which feels a life time away.  If the conversation at the dinner party seems to be hitting a slump again, Surrey are probably favourites to win it, Essex would be a good back up bet whilst Kent, the garden of England, should perhaps stick to the landscaping.

Back to wine now though, what shall we taste this weekend?  In 2019 we tasted a posh Verdicchio and a posh Rioja whilst in 2013 we tasted two wines from Portugal that we can no longer get hold of.  Sensing no obvious theme to our April 5th tasting selections we thought we’d get out of Europe this year and get some sun in the southern hemisphere.  From Marlborough we have:

Staete Landt ‘Josephine’ Chardonnay 2020 – £23.79.  Land (discovered in honour) of the Governors (Staete) of the Dutch Republic.  In 1642, Staete Landt was the working title Abel Tasman gave to the newly discovered lands now known as New Zealand and Ruud Maasdam decided to honour this name when he set up the winery in the 1990’s. 

The ‘Josephine’ Chardonnay is one of the best kept secrets of the Estate: full and round yet stylish, great texture and length, this wine shows the perfect balance between fruit, acidity and oak integration.  A whiff of sea breeze, citrus fruit and cream on the nose, white peaches on the palate and with a mineral aftertaste that lingers on.  A truly great wine with a strong personality and European elegance

For the red, we go to Constantia:

Beau Constantia Lucca 2019 – £29.99.  2019 was a difficult vintage with very low production throughout the region, related in no small measure to the after effects of 4 years of drought.  For the first time Cabernet Franc was the prominent grape (53%) with Merlot making up the balance.

An appealing nose of cedar wood and black cherry is complemented by some tart cranberry on the palate.  This mix of fresh fruit and spice is beautifully complemented by fine-boned tannins and Megan, the winemaker, thoroughly recommends some medium-rare game with chimichurri, which seems totally reasonable!

That’s all from us, enjoy your weekend but do remind me before you go, who’s taller – Gilles, Wayne or Nigel?