Pie and a Pint of Kingston Gate Lager!

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, what did you do first? 

Me, I had a haircut.  Wayne then did the double header of a haircut followed by a pie and a pint in the pub with Matt Hancock and David Cameron.  As a result, we now have a £1.7 billion contract to supply Red Wayne 20/20 (Wayne’s side hustle mentioned a few weeks back), to the 8 booze bars in the Houses of Parliament, despite the fact that, like Seaborne in 2019, we have no experience whatsoever in high volume distribution and don’t even have enough wine.  Not to worry, we’ll be alright Jack; Boris has insisted that there will be no cross party inquiry into cronyism – I wonder why he’s not so keen?

Aside from drinking outside in nigh-on artic temperatures, what else has been going on this week?  This time last year it was 21 Celsius in our sunny back gardens and we were all labouring under the misguided illusion that restrictions would only last a couple of weeks and that by late May life would be back to normal.  Today it’s about half that temperature but I still would rather be here than there!  In sporting circles one of us got the winner in the Grand National, none of us got the winner of the US Masters and the re-energised Mark Cavendish has won 3 stages of the Tour of Turkey.  Liverpool klopped out of the Champions League and with it now being a mathematical certainty that they cannot win the Premiership, questions must be asked as to how quickly the mighty can fall.

And now more of us can get vaccinated here, which is very exciting, whilst Israel has been hinting that they might be getting close to herd immunity and Malta is offering to pay us to go on holiday there.  We can now go and stay in another bed in another part of the country in self-catered accommodation and not just because we need to test our eyesight. 

In a week of tidying up and catching up we were caught thumbing through and older copy of The Morning Advertiser which carries the strapline Inspiration for Pub Success since 1794 – not much modesty there.  Anyway, this edition was from early December last year and the article that caught our eye was The Drinks List – Top Brands to Stock in 2021 which is actually really just a list of the best-selling drinks in the pub sector over the last year.

And it’s quite astonishing what you learn or rediscover perhaps.  Lager still outstrips all comers on a monumental scale but interestingly enough cider comes in a distant second, cask beer third and fourth is craft beer.  Sadly, 5 of the top ten selling ciders were filled with berries, dark fruits, strawberries and the like, which to my mind isn’t really cider… Anyway, as ever the best-selling lagers were Carling, Fosters, Carlsberg, Coors Light and Stella Artois – all crimes against taste but lessons in great marketing.  What really intrigued us though was the list of top 10 best-selling wines.   Now, bearing in mind we’ve been around since they started making wine in Georgia circa 6,000BC we thought we’d probably come across most brands on show in the British marketplace.  We were wrong. 

Jack Rabbit Pinot Grigio anyone?  Fetzer Coldwater Creek Pinot Grigio?  No clue but apparently they were the two best sellers last year, swiftly followed by Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial – who knew this much Champagne got drunk in the pub, particularly when we’re all being told that Prosecco is the people’s choice – Vinuva only comes 8th in the list.  Significantly, the biggest takeaway  for us from all this is that often pubs sell really, really mediocre wines and as consequence we shouldn’t be too concerned about their re-opening taking away too much of our business!

Following on from last week’s round-up, this week we are pleased to welcome seven new products to our shelves and one returner.

In the white house we have two wines from Spain.  Menade Verdejo Ecologico 2019 – £15.29 which has a definite lemon lime citrus character, with tangy minerality, oozes dryness but is weightier on the palate than the nose might suggest.  Crisp and fresh and deliciously dry, one can definitely have this as an interesting step away from Sauvignon Blanc.  Wayne likes it a lot, as do I!  Second up is Noelia Bebelia Albariño 2019 – £21.49 which has quickly been renamed ‘posh’ Albariño!  Rich and expressive on the nose, sweet ripe fruit on the palate, good concentration and intensity.  A fabulous length finish with hints of the sea and a zingy acidity – a truly hand crafted wine, following minimal intervention principles both in the vineyard and the winery.

For the red zone, we’ve gone global. 

From Australia, we have Geoff Merrill Bush Vine GSM 2013 – £19.49.  Geoff always likes to release his wines with a bit of age on them and this 8 year old is a joy.  It has out grown the boisterously youthful fruit you would get in a younger wine and is filled with rounded blackberry fruits encasing notes of vanilla and mocha.  Lovely long finish, properly mature barbecue wine.

From Chile, Tabali Talud Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – £18.99.  This is from one of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the whole of Chile (top 5) and of course has a classic South American Cabernet nose with notes of blackcurrant or perhaps fruits of the forest yoghurt, cassis and cherry, touches of herbaceous character and integrated oak that finishes with coconut tobacco character – clean, dry, medium plus length – not flabby, not shabby with a very tidy finish!

Italy then joins the fray, with Cantine Paolini Nerello Mascalese 2019 – £11.49 representing Sicily.  Oodles of maraschino cherries and hints of beeswax, lovely soft tannins and a cleansing fresh acidity – almost too drinkable.

And now we have Lebanon, of course.  Massaya Terrasses de Baalbeck 2015 – £28.99 is a wine I first tasted in 2008, so not the swiftest turn around I accept.  The famous Rhône producer, Vieux Télégraphe, has a big interest in this winery and the 40% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre blend is a bit of a giveaway.  Rhôney but not Rhôney is not the most helpful tasting note but I think you’ll understand once you try it.  It smells of wines of the south of France but then on the palate has a plush fruit character and some herby character that you just wouldn’t find in Europe.  Nice long finish, would age for a couple of years too, should you lose it at the bottom of the wine-fridge!

Finally, a couple of beers.  As discussed earlier, in spite of protestations to the contrary, lager is still in great demand.  With this in mind we have just taken Kingston Gate Lager 4.1% – £2.80 from the lovely Park Brewery, a crisp and refreshingly light lager made for drinking in the park of course!  Returning to the fold for its annual seasonal short residency we have the delicious Spring Break Sour 4.3% – £3.00 from the Belleville Brewery, a zingy fresh Gose style beer, with loads of grapefruit freshness and tang.  If there’s one problem we have with this beer it’s that it is for too easy to drink!

I feel I’ve rattled on enough now, you all have lives to lead and we’ve got £1.7 billion to spend, so back to your desks everyone it’s not home time yet!

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