Will O’ The Whispering About the Budget

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The good news this week is that all our windows are still intact, the less good news is that the insurance company have gone very quiet since we sent in our claim.  Elsewhere, it would seem that most of you have gone well, elsewhere for the half term week.  Parking on the grid has been a joy and the recently increased flow of customers fresh from the tube of an evening has diminished to a weak trickle, temporarily we hope.  Of course, you might not have all gone elsewhere, you might all have Covid and if this is the case I must apologise for my insensitivity, do please get well soon.

Certainly Kier Starmer didn’t time his positive lateral flow test very well, 10 minutes before PMQ’s and with the budget to follow.  However there are murmurs that Ed Milliband asked some tougher questions and Rachel Reeves certainly showed no fear of sticking her knife in – “at least the bankers on short-haul flights sipping champagne will be cheering this budget today!” 

So anyway, just to clarify, wine is not going to get cheaper.  Champagne and Cava could get a small price cut but I imagine any decrease in duty at this end will be more than made up for by ‘difficult vintages’ in France, particularly.  Oh, and before you ask, none of this will take place before February 2023…  

In simple terms, everything stays the same for the next 15 months, at which point Champagne etc fall into line with other sub-15% wines and attract the same duty, as they always should have done.  Everything else goes up except for spirits that seemingly are unchanged.  Oh, and beer and cider, when we go to the pub, might be a few pennies cheaper too, providing it comes from a Firkin or something larger.  Certainly the likes of Heineken and other behemoths will benefit but what size barrels do the craft brewers usually use we ask ourselves?

Still, at least with COP26 around the corner, Rishi addressed many environmental issues.  The most surprising to us was his proposed 50% tax cut on short-haul flights within the UK from April 2023.  Why?  Flying has to be the highest carbon form of transport but is sadly often cheaper than taking the train, which would be far greener.  Two weeks ago, Manchester United took a 10 minute flight to Leicester on a Friday for a Saturday match, because there were traffic issues on the M6.  This new 50% tax cut will in no way discourage this from happening again or encourage them to wait until the traffic dies down.  Just as a context – a domestic flight produces 133g of carbon dioxide per passenger per kilometre, a coach produces just 27g….

But it’s not all bad news as we discover that we are not at war with France.  Unsurprisingly, the fishing rights situation looks like it is nowhere near any sort of post-Brexit resolution but it was heartening to hear that French Maritime Minister, Annick Girardin, has confirmed that, “It’s not war, it’s a fight” – so no need to panic buy fish fingers just yet.

For those of you ‘blessed’ with children, this weekend is one that you face with both excitement and dread.  The exciting news is that, at 2am on Sunday morning, British Summertime finishes and the clocks go back an hour leading to perhaps an extra hour in bed, fingers crossed.  However, you might need that extra hour to cope with the onslaught of Halloween – I wish you luck.

We will not be celebrating All Hallows Eve, however to avoid having to wear the party pooper tiara for the third year running, Alex has come up with a couple of wines to taste this weekend that nod towards the ghoulish…

Von Buhl Bone Dry Riesling 2020, Pfalz, Germany – £16.99

Since Mathieu Kaufman joined Von Buhl from Bollinger in 2013 the estate has undergone some fairly seismic changes.  The vineyards have been managed biodynamically; the winery has been improved with the purchase of 2400 litre oval fermentation vessels and the winemaking too with more lees contact, and the use of wild yeasts giving us slower fermentation.  The result has been an improvement in wine quality year on year, with drier wines than in the past.  This is a wonder, the dryness you experience in Austrian or Clare Valley Rieslings but maintaining the texture that makes the more traditional styles so moreish.  There’s a lovely seam of minerality too.  An old, historic estate suddenly sailing back into the limelight, with bone dry, modern wines plus it has a skull on the label so is seasonally appropriate!

Finca Bacara ‘Time Waits For No One’ 2020, Jumilla, Spain – £13.99

We always enjoy a drop of Monastrell from this southern Spanish region where, in spite of its latitude, the wines are well managed largely due to the vineyards being at reasonable altitude.  A juicy and opulent red with attractive floral aromas, ripe fruit and balsamic notes in the background.  Balanced freshness on the palate lifts the vibrant fruit through to a smooth and persistent finish and then on to another glass.  Oh, and just like the Riesling, we have skulls on the label…

And with that we are gone, disappearing into the night like two wine weary will-o’-the-wisps….

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