Christmas Boxes

Fellow Wine Lovers,

48 Conservative MP’s submit letters of no confidence but only 29 of them are brave enough to admit they have sent such a letter; Boris we imagine did send one but he’s been unusually taciturn of late, sitting there on the fence… and then Theresa only goes and survives the vote anyway before promising to step down later on; now that this monumental distraction is over with, can someone please focus getting a deal done? Oh, hang about, recess starts next week until the New Year but never mind, 60 working days until the end of March should be more than enough to settle all our futures!

Elsewhere, Spurs miraculously survived in Europe but promise to be knocked out early in the New Year and suddenly Sky fall out of love with two wheels and TUE’s – I feel there is more to this story but time will tell.

Oh, and it’s Christmas soon. As we’re counting working days, how does 9 more until the 25th sound? And that’s for us who are working weekends, you chaps are probably looking at just four or five more, I would imagine? Or if I were to say only 76 hours of trading until 5pm on the 24th, would that capture the imagination?

Should you be wondering, here are our hours for next week and beyond:


It’s all very well being open for all this time but what are you going to buy when you get here. With this in mind, we’ve arranged a few cases for Christmas Survival…

THE CHRISTMAS CLARET CASE – 6 bottles + gift box + tasting notes = £120

Château Béchereau 2015 – Lalande de Pomerol
Chateau Béchereau has been family owned since the early 19th century and has vineyards in Neac on excellent clay soils. This Lalande de Pomerol is a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc (20%). Half of the wine is fermented in stainless steel before ageing in oak barrels for 12 months; the other half is fermented in oak. This has given us a medium bodied, modern claret with a good balance of black fruits, toasty notes, some sweet spice and those tell-tale silky tannins that we love about Pomerol.

Château Belle-Vue 2009 – Haut-Medoc
“Very classy nose here of minerals, currants and hints of freshly cut flowers. Full-bodied, with super silky tannins and a beautiful combination of ripe fruits and bright acidity. Tension to this. Juicy. Best ever from here. (4/2012)” 93 points. James Suckling.

Chateau Cardinal 2015 – Montagne-St-Émilion
Within the prestigious satellite appellation Montagne St Émilion, Château Cardinal’s 10 hectares of vines average 30 years of age. Here Merlot, with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, grows on argilo-calcaire. Winemaker Sarah Boireau has fashioned a seductive, well-balanced claret with delicious spiced plum fruit, rounded tannin and a lovely finish. Plus it’s suitable for vegans and meat-eaters alike!!

Château Deville 2014 – Cotes de Bordeaux
This is a classic luncheon claret from the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. Medium bodied with plummy dark fruit, a little earthy cedar wood spice and just enough tannin to keep it honest. Just the ticket with a ham, cheddar and pickle sandwich on Boxing Day!

Château de la Coste 2015 – Margaux
Château de La Coste is the second wine of Château Paveil de Luze, one of the oldest properties in the Médoc. It is situated in the northern part of the Margaux appellation with vineyards dating from the 17th century and has been owned and run by the Barons de Luze Family since 1862, with Marguerite and Catherine de Luze representing the sixth generation. The 2015 is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot Noir and 5% Cabernet Franc. It has a complex bouquet of scents including blackcurrant, leather, liquorice, tobacco and plum is followed on the palate by bold, rich dark fruit flavours and a long finish.

Chateau Relais de la Poste ‘Cuvée Malbec’ 2014 – Cotes de Bourg
This has deliciously dark blackcurrant fruit, appealing with a hint of violet too, and is frankly really tasty but with a bit more weight and juice than a normal Bordeaux. It is really quite unusual to find a 100% Malbec in Bordeaux which is what made us try it in the first place – and we found a gem.

THE FRENCH CHRISTMAS CASE – 6 bottles + gift box + tasting notes = £125

Champagne Comte Decrion Esprit Noble Brut NV, Champagne
A small Champagne house that flies under the radar in many respects, despite having been around since 1933. A traditional blend of a third each of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and aged on its lees for a minimum of two years we think it offers excellent quality and value. Decent fruit and bready character, a soft, fine, creamy mousse and a decent finish.

Domaine Alexandre Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2016, Burgundy
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.

Domaine Lebrun Pouilly Fumé 2017, Loire
About a million years ago, when we sported Oddbins polo shirts, we used to sell lots of this wine. The bottle has lost its distinctive orange label somewhere in the intervening years but the wine has lost none of its quality or verve. Gooseberry, grass, minerals, lemons and limes all crop up somewhere between the start and the nice long finish. Tip-top classic Pouilly Fumé!

Domaine Cherrier ‘La Croix Poignant’ Sancerre Rouge 2017, Loire
In the past we have been a bit wary of Pinot Noir from the Loire, sometimes feeling we were missing the subtleties others saw. This however is a totally different kettle of fish. These chaps have done a marvellous job here with excellent ripe, red fruit character a slice of minerality and some real Loire character – spot on.

Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Rouge 2016, Burgundy
Sourced from 5 parcels spread throughout the appellation with vines that date back to 1962. The grapes are hand harvested, sorted and pressed on site in Mercurey and are then brought to the domaine cellars in Nuits-St-Georges for aging.
“Purity is the hallmark of this sleek red, whose vibrant structure marshals the flavors of cherry, raspberry and currant to a lingering conclusion. Balanced and focused, this fades gracefully with berry, orange zest and spice notes.”
*Smart Buys* 93 points Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator 31/5/2018

Château Milon, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015, Bordeaux
The classic Saint Émilion blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc from 25-30 year old vines. After fermentation the wine is aged in oak barrels for 12-15 months which of course adds complexity. Fabulously rich and velvety on the palate with damson fruit, a touch of liquorice and a super, silky finish. Medium to full bodied, an absolute joy with Côte de Boeuf.

We have found that people tend to revert back to traditional favourites at this time of year hence the heavier focus on French wines. However, we do of course still have our monthly £60 and £100 cases available and indeed we also have wines from all over the world – Torrontés from Argentina, Pais from Chile and Sparkling Shiraz from Oz, should that be more the way your boat floats!


Saturday evening will find Alex and Wayne propping up the bar at The Hope on Wandsworth Common – an annual pre- Christmas tradition that never was meant to become a tradition but now somehow has… I suppose that’s how a lot of traditions start really but anyway, prior to our appointment with a pint or deux, we will have been busy in the shop (he hopes) and will have been wetting our whistles with the following:

• Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV – £45 (£35 if you buy six)
• Sylvain Dussort Bourgogne Blanc ‘Cuvée des Ormes’ 2016 – £21.99
• Domaine Cherrier ‘La Croix Poignant’ Sancerre Rouge 2017 – £22.49
• Krohn Colheita 1996 Port – £33.99
• Domaine de Clayou Coteaux de Layon 2017 – £14.99

I’ve already mentioned the Champagne and the red in the tasting notes above – the white, not so far. A classic white burgundy which is in fact the estate’s flagship wine. The grapes are hand-harvested from vines from 35 to over 60 years and the wine is aged for 12 months in barrels on the lees. The wine is racked off once and assembled in a single vat before bottling. This takes place at between 16 and 18 months, depending on the vintage. Delicate, rich and elegant, with good length, we reckon in a blind tasting it would easily be mistaken for a Meursault and this was awesome value for money.

The Port is terrible, you won’t like it. 1996 single vintage Tawny, aged in the barrel and bottled earlier this year… it’s over 21 years old, it must be out of date, I wouldn’t get near it, we’ll look after it for you, trained professionals and all that….

Finally, the Coteaux de Layon is a delicate sweet wine from the Loire made from Chenin Blanc and was a big hit at a recent cheese tasting – it’s light freshness serving as a nice foil to some of the creamier cheeses.

And if that doesn’t tantalise those taste buds we have got Gin, Whisky, Vodka and of course the Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur all open and awaiting your attention.

Nominate a driver and form an orderly queue, there’s a lot to get through!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

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