Juniper-infused fug and International Chardonnay Day

Fellow Wine Lovers,

This morning we are viewing the world through a rather wonderful, juniper-infused fug!

As we all know, Thursday has been the new Friday for a number of years now and never more so than the Thursday night before a bank holiday or a school holiday – oh look, last night was both of these. Add a Gin tasting with Danielle from Sacred, the award winning spirits house in Highgate, into the mix and you have the perfect cocktail for a cracking night out!

What did we taste? I feel this could almost be used as a brain training quiz for some of our guests but I will spare their blushes and give you the list of Sacred products we enjoyed:

• Classic Gin
• Gin with zesty notes of fresh Pink Grapefruit
• Gin with exotic notes of Cardamom
• English Spiced Vermouth
• Rosehip Cup
• Negroni
• English Whisky Liqueur

And I think there were perhaps some water biscuits too and even some tonic water but I could be mistaken… either way it was a cracking night and deeply informative, thank you Danielle.

Fully aware that only 14 of you were able to squeeze into the shop, we won’t continue with our list of things you missed but will just mention that, of the selection above, we normally only sell the Classic and Cardamom options but we took a bit of stock of the others for this event. So, if anyone fancies a bottle of something different, come and have a look!

What else has been going on this week? Thanks to GDPR, what was once a metaphorical broom cupboard crammed with almost 1,000 people, many of whom were looking at their phones, looking in the wrong direction or permanently out of the office, is now a rather more comfortable veranda filled only with people who want to listen to our chunterings. A bespoke group of wine intellectuals, if I may be so bold, thank you for staying put!

I spent much of yesterday afternoon getting distracted by research on the Kantar website, the initial hook being that we Brits apparently spent £193 million more on wine last year. Disappointed that this extra cash hadn’t been spent exclusively on Arthur Road, I then read on to discover that a new category to me, Non-traditional Sparkling Wine was the biggest growth area in 2017 with 21.6% growth, based largely on consumers desire for cheaper alternatives to Prosecco.

Cheaper alternatives to Prosecco, oh my days.

Apparently, Asda’s ‘Progrigio’ costs a fiver and tastes a million bucks…

And then I read on. ‘Heavy’ sparkling wine drinkers, where ‘heavy’ equates to five or more glasses per month, are more likely to enjoy going out; entertaining; paying more for the finer things in life; and making sure they look good – for example, they are 72% more likely than the average UK adult to ‘never leave home without makeup’. I immediately double-checked with Wayne but he carefully restricts himself to 4 glasses a month, allowing him to eschew the war paint.

So, on the one hand we’re looking for ever cheaper fizz, and by all accounts drinking more of it, whilst at the same time doling out more cash going out and living the high life – and I thought we were all broke and drinking less – the joy of when stats and market research collide!

The take home for me here is that consumption isn’t really shifting, the increase in spend in 2017 is largely down to own brand and supermarket, super-cheap wine – imagine if we could just convert 10% of those drinkers to better quality wine….

Alongside the wine story was a story about food and drink fads. Apparently, avocado’s are still seeing growth if slower than 2 years ago; quinoa too. Kale and coconut oil are starting to noticeably dip whilst pineapple sales are growing extraordinarily quickly. Fancy pop-up cafés specialising in Hawaiian pizza, Piña Colada and retro upside-down cakes will be all over the place before we know it – you heard it here first!

In other news, Liverpool have gone to Kiev, the cyclists have gone into the mountains and after a sun filled week, the first test at Lords started under grey skies on the wicket and general gloom off pitch. People we thought guilty of murder or attempted murder have been found guilty of murder or attempted murder and Donald has put world peace on hold, for now.

And yesterday was International Chardonnay Day – although we didn’t need any more help after the Gin – so we have decided to celebrate it today by cracking open a bottle for tasting.

The lucky winner this year is De Wetshof Estate ‘Lesca’ Chardonnay 2017 – £14.99
Named after Danie de Wet’s wife, this is a lightly wooded Chardonnay, exuding lively aromas of citrus, green apple and butterscotch on the nose. With the elegance and intensity of great white Burgundy it has a complex, racy palate of lemon, peach and ripe apple flavours with nutty and mineral notes. Stonking value and an all-round food matcher.

With every white there oft comes a red and this week is no different. Failing to find a Red Chardonnay on our shelves (a job for next week Wayne, you love buying new wines whilst I’m away!) we have decided instead to open a bottle of Alpataco Malbec 2017 – £13.99, which will tasting nothing like a white wine, I can assure you.

From Patagonia, the most southerly wine producing region of Latin America, lying to the south of Mendoza and Las Pampas, this is country where they eat steak three times a day, drink Malbec and ride horses – very much like Wimbledon Common. A fabulously smooth mouth-feel, this is a fresh and fruit laden wine that carries vanilla and caramel notes from ageing in small oak barrels and might just work with that barbecue we are all planning!

That’s it from us, apart from a little bit of admin – as is our wont on Bank Holiday Weekends, we will be closing at 6pm on Saturday 26th May and will then be closed until 11am on Tuesday 29th May – if you don’t want to end up suffering through a bottle of Progrigio, I suggest you come and see us before then!

Here’s to a sunny weekend,

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