Archive for June, 2024

This Time Next Week…

Friday, June 28th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, by this time next week, we’ll know won’t we?

We’ll know if Coldplay have closed Glastonbury with Clocks, The Scientist or Yellow, all of which they have performed at least 5 times before at the festival.

We’ll know whether Slovakia will be facing Switzerland or Italy in the Euro 24 quarter finals.

We’ll know that Sir Mark Cavendish is the greatest Tour de France stage winner, having won majestically the Mâcon-Dijon stage on Thursday.

We’ll know what Andy Murray plans to do next, injury having forced his retirement in Round 1 of Wimbledon, if his 24/7 rehab manages to get him there.

We’ll also know whether it is cheaper to buy strawberries at the All England or to hire a helicopter down to Stonepitts Farm in Kent and PYO.

What we might know is whether Chapel Down is for sale or not, as it seeks to raise even more funds for expansion.  Via Seedrs they raised almost £4 million in 2014, just short of £2 million in 2015 to build a brewery, raised £18.5 million by issuing new shares in 2017 and almost £7 million in 2021, once again through Seedrs.  In the meantime they opened Gin Works at Kings Cross, a bar and restaurant that opened in 2019 and closed in February 2020, before COVID could take the blame. 

What I don’t know is how much longer they can keep doing this.

We’ll know that the Men’s T20 World Cup has no winner this year once the final falls foul of wild wet weather and the organisers, consistent with their policy throughout the competition, deem it impossible to postpone the game until the following day and proclaim a draw.

What we won’t know is who, between Farage and Sunak, won the race to Heathrow and the battle for seat 1a on the flight to the US.

We also won’t know who is going to form the coalition with Ed Davey whilst “Are you two really the best we’ve got to be the next prime minister of our great country?” is still ringing in our ears….

But enough of all this for now.  I appreciate I might be a bit late to the party but there was a bit of disappointing news regarding Gerry’s, the legendary spirits shop on Old Compton Street.  It used to be that, if Gerry’s didn’t have it, it most likely didn’t exist, such was their portfolio.  However this all might change – they have been bought by Booker, which in turn is owned by Tesco and I think we all understand that their differing business models might not be very compatible.

In ‘better’ news, move over Kylie because Meghan Markle, TAFKADOS, is launching a rosé!  Apparently a keen pink drinker, she is also not averse to a Frosé, the delicious blend of strawberries, rosé wine and, of course, icing sugar, so we expect something sweet, and having sold out of our new Provence rosé, Chateau Paquette, last weekend, we figure that Meghan’s style may not be to your tastes!

This week we’re off the pink and back onto the white/red tasting combo.

The white is a new listing, Domaine Fournillon Bourgogne Chardonnay 2022 – £16.50.  It is likely that many of you will have come across this domaine before since we have been selling their Chablis and their Epineuil Pinot Noir for a number of years now and certainly the Chablis is our best-selling Burgundy.  Anyway, a few months back, Alex got the opportunity to try their entry level wines and this one really stood out.  From the 23 hectare family-run domaine situated in the small village of Bernouil, close to Chablis, this is lovely and crisp and clean, with gentle orchard fruit and hints of citrus.  Not as intense as the Chablis but a really nice introduction into the world of Fournillon.

As it looks like it’s going to be barbecue weather again this weekend, we thought we’d crack open something from Argentina.  Sottano Selección Blend 2020 – £19.99 is a blend of Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Franc; dark in the glass as you’d expect and with lovely aromatic berry aromas with a hint of violets and wood smoke.  The palate is rich and layered with cassis and berry fruit notes, coffee and wood spice with a touch of black pepper to end on.  It works very well with rib-eye, should you need some inspo!

That’s probably it from us but we’ll leave you with a message from Katy Moon@Oog that Wayne found on Twitter yesterday, which made us smile:

Reasons to love Belgium #12546: They’re playing Last Christmas by Wham! on the radio on the 27th June.

Bless ‘em!

The sun is out – stick some Rose in the fridge

Friday, June 21st, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This week, I’ve found myself watching the Newsnight and Sky News round-ups of the newspapers to try and get my head around this election business. I have learnt quite a lot from it. I have learnt that regardless of who you vote for taxes are unlikely to go down. And I have learnt that when Nigel Farage tweeted that Lettuce Liz and Kamakasi Kwarteng’s budget was the best Conservative budget since 1986, he actually liked it so much that Reform have included a similar unfunded amount of money in their manifesto.  

My biggest takeaway though, was that these programmes are very easy to nod off to. Given the content and time of the evening, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but, if the angle of your head isn’t quite right, you can awake with a rather stiff neck. Now, I do have a solution for this. We could take Countryfile out of the earlier evening slot, shuffle everything along by that amount of time and then put Countryfile on after Newsnight. Surely, a programme with all those sheep and lambs is ideal for the countdown to bedtime so, if any of our readers at the BBC could put a word in, we’d appreciate it!

Talking of sheep, Rishi Sunak is so confident that the country is still with him that he and David Cameron were campaigning this week in a North Devon constituency with a large Conservative majority. The obligatory photoshoot was of trying to feed sheep that all turned and ran away from them. Just can’t catch a break, eh lads?

Following on from last week’s chat about the Gambling Commission looking into a Tory MP for placing a bet on the date of the election, it turns out that the Director of Campaigning, his wife, who is a Tory candidate, and a member of Sunak’s police protection are also being looked into. The policeman has been suspended and arrested. The politicos? Not so much…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse Post Office, it turns out that they have published the names and addresses of 555 postmasters prosecuted during the Horizon scandal. Whilst the Post Office has, quite rightly, referred itself to the Information Commissioner, as I type this, it is yet to issue an apology. How are our institutions so riddled with such incompetence?

On a lighter note, England’s T20 World Cup defence finally got some oomph to it with a decent eight wicket win over the West Indies. Phil Salt was man of the match with an unbeaten 87, with some great willow slinging by Jonny Bristow too.

It seems Andy Murray has picked up an injury at Queens which might rule him out for Wimbledon. Let’s hope not, eh? Just 10 days to go, the action starts on the 1st July.

In Olympics news, Katie Archibald has had a disaster, suffering a freak accident tripping over a step in her garden. She has managed to break her tibia, fibula and detached a ligament or two. She is now recovering from surgery and we wish her a speedy recovery. It’s unlikely she’ll manage to get up to race speed in the 35 days till the Olympics start in Paris so we’ll be adjusting our medal expectations down by at least a couple!

With just 8 days to go until the Tour de France has its first ever Grand Départ in Florence, we see that both Wout Van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard have been named in the Visma Lease a Bike team, seemingly recovered from their early season crashes. Should you be a person of leisure with some spare time and planning to watch a bit of a bike race I’d suggest stage 9. It starts and finishes in beautiful Troyes, the entertainment of Beefeater Bend is going to be there, and it’s in the champagne region. What’s not to like?

In wine news, chemists at the University of Cordoba have established that a liquid found in an urn, during the restoration of a house in Carmona, is a 2000 year old wine. It is the oldest liquid wine discovered and appears to be a white, sherry-like wine from the local area. The urn also contained the cremated bones of a man and a gold ring, so I’m not sure anyone will be rushing to taste it!

Shall we taste something a bit fresher this weekend?  As the sun is out, we thought we’d stick a pink in the fridge:

Château Paquette Côtes de Provence 2023 – £18.49 – so a few weeks back we have a routine meeting with a supplier to taste a few new wines.  One of them to be pulled out of the bag is this, a Provençal rosé that, frankly, we weren’t looking for.  Anyway, the cork gets pulled, we have a taste and decide that it is really rather good.  Lovely and crisp with bright fruit, a touch of herbiness and a long dry finish.  It turns out that the wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and a local variety, Tibouren, which is what brings the herbiness.  It also turns out this small estate in Fréjus was pointed out to our supplier by Elizabeth Gabay MW, who is the world’s foremost expert on rosé.  Probably you should try it….

Hesketh ‘Unfinished Business’ Pinot Noir 2022 – £16.99 – this is perfect summer drinking.  Made with fruit sourced from a selection of premium cool climate vineyards within the renowned Limestone Coast region in South Australia’s south-eastern corner, this is made in a way that allows the juicy intensity of this parcel of fruit to shine.  Light to medium bodied with luscious red fruits and juicy acidity pursued by plush tannins, this is an incredibly moreish wine that we expect to be rather tasty gently chilled in an ice bucket!

So that’s it from us, enjoy the sunshine!

‘Why are they so bad at it?!’

Friday, June 14th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome back – hope you’ve all had a splendid week?

Personally, I’ve been on a bit of a digital detox.  A few days away from London, in the sunshine with a golf-bag on my back.  For a while I was able to forget about the absurdities at home and remember how monumentally bad I am at putting.  However a cold glass of white and a plate of Gambas al Pil-Pil helped ease that pain and so, the next day, we went again.  One of the characters on my trip is a long term resident of UAE; he is so used to living in a place where all political parties are banned that he has no need/facility to get agitated about the status quo, since there is nothing he can do – for a moment that felt quite utopian until I remembered the downsides of the police state…

Before I left and before Wayne wrote last week’s email, I watched the Have I Got News For You episode hosted by Victoria Coren-Mitchell.  At one point she clearly needed to vent her frustrations and, whilst I appreciate this quote is a few weeks old, it resonates still:

‘Why are they so bad at it?!…. One side is sending the guy to stand in the rain and at the Titanic.  The other side can’t even decide who their MPs are.  And these are all people who think they can run the health service.  It’s pitiful.’

Back in the days when we worked for Oddbins, about once a year we’d hear news that somewhere in the estate a manager, or more often an assistant-manager, had had a sudden rush of blood to the head and emptied the shop safe on a Sunday evening, grabbed a case of Vodka and a slab of beer before doing a runner.  The safe takings could be perhaps £5,000 and the booze would have just been drunk.   A few days later they’d be arrested, charged, lose their job of course and have a permanent scar on their CV.  Five grand does not set you up for life but a criminal record certainly slows you down.

As news comes in of an arrest as part of the investigation into PPE Medro, we mull over the fact that Michelle and Doug were a little more ambitious than those Oddbins staff…

And now we hear about Craig Williams. 

Most recently he was MP for Montgomeryshire and standing for re-election, having got 59% of the vote in 2019 and increased the Conservative majority.  Now, most of us hadn’t really heard of him until The Guardian discovered that he had placed a bet on there being a July election, just before Sunak announced exactly that.  He is now going to be talking to the Gambling Commission having placed £100 at 5/1 – a monkey does not set you up for life but a criminal record certainly slows you down!

As V C-M might say – why are they so bad at it?!

Wine news might offer some respite, perhaps?

A study, commissioned by the WSTA (Wine and Spirit Trade Association) and produced by Cebr, has found that we (you, me, my brother Jake, everybody) are contributing £76 billion to the UK economy.

Using data from 2022, this shows growth from less than £50 billion in the past five years but of course, there need to be some spoilers too.  By all accounts, the Institute for Alcohol Studies state that alcohol is ‘costing’ the UK economy £27bn a year however, the Institute for Economic Affairs’ head of lifestyle economics, counters that these figures do not include a full cost-benefit analysis of the alcohol trade.

Somehow, far beyond my GCSE maths, it could be thus deduced that the net-benefit to the UK economy of wine and spirits is £49bn.  Not entirely sure what all this means but, in the meantime, keep up the good work, you’re doing it for the economy!

To help with your continued contributions, we’ll be opening a couple of gems this weekend to tickle your taste buds.  There is no theme, just wines that we fancied a glass of and, given the meteorological uncertainty, definite all-rounders both of whom are in this month’s case club:

Lyrarakis Vóila Assyrtiko 2022 – £16.99.  Located in the mountainous commune of Alagni in Crete, Domaine Lyrarakis stays true to local winemaking traditions.  The domaine focuses on indigenous varieties, taking them from obscurity and driving them in a more modern direction, while still retaining a clear sense of place.  Its style focuses on pure varietal character, precision and supple texture.  The 2022 Assyrtiko is a delicious wine, grown at 580 metres’ altitude in the Voila vineyard.  There is a definite floral character, refreshing minerality and chalky texture to this delicious wine that marries well with all forms of seafood, as you might expect from a producer surrounded by sea!

Casa Silva Cool Coast Pinot Noir 2021 – £20.99.  Hailing from the coastal vineyards of the Colchagua Valley, this is a proper cool climate Pinot Noir.  It has a nose filled with red fruit notes, strawberries, raspberries and a subtle background note of cinnamon and spice from the French oak that it spent 12 months reposing in.  With a truly excellent length of finish this is a real pleasure to drink and would be spot on with some flash griddled lamb leg steaks and some greens.

Just for your guide, as we speak, Heraklion is 36˚celsius with a real feel of 40˚, whilst Colchagua is 10˚ with a real feel of 8˚ including drizzle – so stop moaning you lot!

The US Open, Euro 2024, and Father’s Day – none of these made the cut and featured in this email, suffice to say they’re all happening this weekend and should not be ignored!

This Week’s Shenanigans

Friday, June 7th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So did you watch the ITV debate on Tuesday? I watched the programme, it made for some fairly awful television. The two men in suits evading the questions asked and talking over both each other, and the moderator.

As it later transpired  it turned out that Rishi Sunak was telling porkies about Labour’s tax plans being verified independently by the Treasury, the Treasury minister had already written to Labour warning them of this and yet still Ministers were wheeled out doubling down on the lies. The surprise in all this was that ‘Rishi tells lies’ actually made the front page!

It was so successfully received that the BBC are having it large tonight with seven, yes seven party representatives all debating in the studio whilst Mishal Hussein attempts to keep control. With such gripping TV could it be a quiet night in Tooting Market as we all stay home with gammon for tea?

Talking of gammon, a drive to Clacton passes lots of pig farms. Attempting to become an MP for the 8th time, Nigel Farage is standing as Clacton’s Reform candidate despite spending a week or more saying he had no interest. I suppose anyone can change their mind!

Whilst we like to gently poke fun at the state of politics, we are often grateful that we don’t have to write about it for a living. Not only are there people who report it much better than we do, but there luminaries who predict what happens 15 years ahead of time. Armando Iannucci this week tweeted:  “Those asking if ‘The Thick of It’ is writing this election may want to note that today’s Tory immigration plan -shunt it off to an independent body to decide, so ministers can avoid talking specifics in interviews- is the main plot of 2009’s special ‘The Rise of the Nutters.’”

Lastly for the UK Election news this week, I feel we should give props to those fundraisers at The Conservative Party for their 2024 General Election Souvenir Mugs. It’s a brave call to use: “Once they’re gone, they’re gone!” as your strapline.

Staying with election news, the world’s largest democracy, India, has returned no majority to Narendi Modi’s BJP party who fell well short of their target of 400 seats with just 240. They’ll now need the support of some of the opposition party to pass any laws. In one constituency in Mumbai 1.7 million voted and the winner had a majority of just one vote! Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter if you go to the polling station!

In South Africa, the ANC is also facing building a coalition having lost its majority with their share of the vote falling from 57.2% in 2019 to 40.2 % now.  The current plan is to form a government of national unity.

This weekend also sees voting across 27 countries in Europe for MEPs. Not you Farage.

Elsewhere, most of us have been commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day invasion that started the end of World Wat II. Not you Rishi!  

There were still some veterans of that battle sprightly enough to make the journey and tell their stories. In a moving ceremony, there were many speeches, tears and music alongside flypasts and also a firework display. I’m not sure all the explosions of the fireworks whilst the centurions stood on Juno beach was necessarily the best idea, but as the saying goes:  “All’s well that ends well!”

According to Pete Brown’s book “Man Walks into a Pub” a West Midlands brewery managed to ship more than 2,000 barrels of beer across the English Channel to Normandy in June 1944, with each labelled with a message to the recipients: “A gift to our fighting forces from Mitchells and Butlers Limited, Birmingham. Best of luck. If this cask is returned we will refill it and send it back to you. Replace cork.”

Further afield, in China a hiker has discovered that China’s tallest waterfall, Yuntai Mountain Waterfall, seems to emerge from a pipe! The Yuntai Mountain Geopark explained that water is pumped during the dry season so that visitors always see the waterfall at its prettiest.

As the French Open races towards the Finals we know that Wimbledon is just over the horizon. Expect to see the cars doing their practice runs over the next week or two.

More pertinently you only have till the 8th June to tell the GLA if you object to the AELTC’s plans to build over Wimbledon Park. You have probably seen their adverts on the tube claiming to be creating a new London park rather than building over most of a historic one.

Full details here: Tell the GLA You Object to AELTC’s Planning Application (

The Lloyds Bank Tour of Britain started yesterday, Lotte Kopecky won the stage ahead of Leti Paternoster, with Pfeiffer Georgi and Lizzie Deignan coming in 3rd and 4th. Lizzie Deignan will start today in the Queen of the Mountains jersey.

In wine news, a heavy hail storm hit the Penedès region in Spain causing a lot of damage over some 1500 hectares of vines, whilst in the US Dolly Parton has released her first wine. Dolly Wines California Chardonnay 2023 is about to be released to consumers. Ideal for when you’ve finished the ‘9 to 5’.

Tasting This Weekend we’ll start in Costers del Segre with Mas Blanch I Jove Troballa 2022 (£19.49) – a great wine, 100% organic Garnacha Blanca with wild fermentation, aged for four months in concrete eggs.  A rich and fruity wine with a lovely mouthfeel that we think would be splendid with a rare tuna steak or perhaps a lightly spiced vegetable and coconut curry.

How about a trip to Piemonte for the red? Cantine Povero Cabanè Langhe Nebbiolo 2019(£14.99) – this is from grapes just outside of the designated zone for Barolo, the wrong side of the tracks if you like.  Usually the wines are 100% Nebbiolo but in this instance I am led to believe that there may be a smidge of Barbera in there plus a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon!  The nose is sweetly aromatic with an intense bouquet containing hints of roses, tobacco and spice.  On the palate we have more roses and red fruits and fresh tobacco leaf on the simply delicious finish.