Lunchtime latest

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s that time again – lunchtime on Friday and up we pop to interrupt your BLT, your Cheese & Onion and yer crossword with the ramblingly unstructured witterings of a wine peddler, for which we apologise, we won’t be long.

Yesterday morning was a tricky one for Wayne.

As soon as he arrived at work he was faced with a barrage of questions relating to the exact details of what had been discussed in Wine School (Week 5 – Other Reds) the previous evening. The fact that he had conducted this evening meeting until well after 10pm, behind closed (shop) doors, with just a small group of 12 customers and 585 pages of tasting notes, had led other customers to question his motivations.

Wayne has always maintained a well-publicised platform of being pro-Bordeaux wines and, as such, he was perhaps an unusual choice to be negotiating the tricky ‘Other Reds’ meeting. Since no-one else was prepared to take on this mantle, Wayne took the job, knowing full well that he would be the subject of perpetual jibes at his suitability for the role but with a view that someone had to get on with it and knuckle down. Alex has not resigned, in spite of his views on the varied pitfalls of a hard or soft Bordeaux…

In other news, lots of people resigned from government posts yesterday whilst Theresa tried to get on with it; and the next Park Vintners Wine School, including Week 5 – Other Reds will start again on Wednesday 6th February. Whilst we may never find out exactly what was said in Downing Street late on Wednesday evening, you will get the opportunity to find out Wayne’s thoughts on non-Bordeaux wines on 13th March!

Earlier in the week Alex made the long trip to The Oval to help out with the judging at the International Wine Challenge. He has been doing this judging for the best part of 10 years now and still manages to have all of his own teeth, despite tasting 100 wines in a day of mixed quality, acidity and tannin. When he eventually returns to the shop, with black teeth and the glassy eyed look of a man whose body feels like it has been drinking all day but hasn’t actually swallowed a drop, he is quite a sight and always bubbling with tales to tell.

So, this year it would seem he had been having a long conversation with a wine merchant, based in the US, about the use of social media and apps in the sale of wine. It quickly became clear that, in spite of geographical and demographic differences, we all face the same beast when it comes to the online wine comparison sites.

Whilst there is no doubt about the value of the online wine community it can sometimes be a bit too much of a tool. Picture the scenario – customer comes into the wine shop in America and is discussing a wine with the owner and indeed buyer for this shop. Whilst discussing the merits of a particular wine, the customer proceeds to look up said wine online, through the app. Bob from Bognor and Daniel in Dubai have both tasted this wine and posted notes. Both give it 5 stars – great. But who is Bob? And who is Daniel? Complete strangers who might actually normally drink Frosty Jack and Buckie or who, heaven forfend, have posted notes about the wrong wine. How did Bob and particularly Daniel, get more influence over this customer than the shop-owner standing right in front of them? Admittedly he is the salesman and thus keen to make a sale. He is also, probably more importantly, in the business of you buying the right wine for the occasion and returning many, many more times, so has absolutely no interest in selling you a dud. Bob, and especially Daniel, don’t care a fig, one way or another.

Trust online, sure, but not exclusively.

Sport punditry is taking a back seat this weekend since we were, happily, misguided in our belief that England were going to have a learning experience at Twickenham and with this in mind, we have no clue what will happen against Japan. Football is on a break and frankly needs to be, what with the combined daftness of an England team captained by Rooney one more time and a £5 million farewell for Scudamore making it a bit of a laughing stock. Cricket, as discussed last week – well, anything could happen there.

I was reminded by an overeager family member yesterday that it’s only 39 days until Christmas now which, it was impressed on me, is not very long. However, over the last few years Thanksgiving has taken a firmer grip on people’s entertainment diary – as the saying goes, it only takes one American…

Anyway, Thanksgiving next Thursday and, as a consequence, we’ll open a nice bottle of American red this weekend to prepare and what could be more appropriate than a Zinfandel?

Maggio Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2016, Lodi, California – £13.99 – Rudy and the family Maggio have been growing Zinfandel in Lodi since 1954, selling their fruit to a number of prominent wineries. In 2002 they took the bold decision to start making and bottling their own wine. We think they’re doing a decent job of it. This wine has classic Lodi character with bold sweet cherry fruit characters, fine soft tannins and a touch of chocolate in the finish and is a fabulous food matcher.

We don’t have an appropriate American white to recommend right now, so instead will open a bottle of one of our favourites from Burgundy – Domaine Alexandre Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2016 – £19.99. The 13 hectare property is in the small village of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne just north of Chablis. This Cuvée is from the estates oldest vines, around 60 years old and planted by the current winemaker’s grandfather. It is an excellent, elegant Chablis with a nice richness from the old vines and a good, lean minerality.

And that’s it from us, suffice to say we have attached notes about the Wine School mentioned above.

Now, back to yer crossword, you’ve got 5 minutes…

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