To emulate Wayne’s herculean efforts this week, how about joining us for the slightly less frenetic Wine School that starts next Wednesday?

Fellow Wine Lovers,

‘122 wines (2 of them twice, just to check), 3 olive oils, countless grissini and a couple of pints of Guinness.’

It’s rare, but occasionally we get a sneaky glimpse into Wayne’s diary to find out what he’s really up to when he claims to be cycling/visiting family in Essex/trimming the hedge/painting the fence/swinging the lead… To be fair, he does spend a significant portion of his non-work life engaging in all of the activities above but every now and then he goes off the reservation and hits the town.

This happened on Tuesday.

A quick warm up tasting at the Oval (30 wines tasted, 3 olive oils, various breads) was an exercise more focused around trying new vintages of wines we currently list and a couple of esoteric peripheral treats – for example, a quality Lambrusco and then a 1978 Terrantez from Madeira that was a rare treat but, at over £150 for a half bottle, it is unlikely to be appearing in the shop anytime soon!  Olive oil was all delicious and green and herbaceous and frankly we got side-tracked…

Next stop Langan’s.  Well you should really, shouldn’t you, if the purpose of your day is vinous extravagance.  A baker’s dozen of wines here, tasted in the upstairs room with all the photos of all the luminaries propping Peter Langan up, the sort of photos Hello and co aspired to present but none as classy and cool as this collection.  Again we got side-tracked.  Some really tasty and interesting wines from Beaujolais (the ‘next big thing’ apparently if Lambrusco doesn’t get there first, or posh Madeira), some genuine horror stories from various bits of the New World, some melt in the mouth slivers of hand-carved Serrano ham and we’re out the door, all within half an hour.

Quick courtesy call at Marks & Spencer’s and then a route march down to the Albert Hall, having misjudged the intervening distance.  Tasting wasn’t in the hall but when you’re tasting next door, this is the landmark you aim for.  Here is where teeth turned black, and tasting notes grew monosyllabic.  Almost 80 wines tasted and noted – the two Cremant were re-examined a few times, just as a respite, just as a palate cleanser and then as a treat – sometimes it is just too rude to spit.

And the Guinness.  Now that tasted fabulous, the requirement to spit was no longer there and a body that had been teased all day by the prospect of a tasty tipple was finally given its reward.

If that’s what he gets up to on a Tuesday, one can scarce imagine what his weekends must be like!

Last call for Wine School

Following on from Wayne’s herculean efforts this week, how about joining us for the slightly less frenetic Wine School that starts next Wednesday, 25th January at 8pm?

Admittedly, over the six week course you will only taste about half the number of wines Wayne tasted on Tuesday, about 10 each week, but to be able to be like Wayne you need to have been like Wayne for a long time – and not many people have….

Anyway, over the six weeks you will learn about all your old favourites – Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and friends – but you will also get to learn about, and taste, other grape varieties that perhaps you are always a little wary of when confronted with the wine list.  Treat yourself to this in 2017 – if wine is going to get more expensive, it might be time to explore the roads less travelled, where greater value hides!

Wine School – Wednesday 25th January to Wednesday 8th March

(half term 15th February)

£150 per person, 4 places remaining.

6 for 5

16.66% discount.  On wine and beer.  Many of you have partaken, more of you haven’t.  It ends when January ends, as does abstinence – you might well need a bottle or six by then!

Haggis time

This time next week we’ll have celebrated Mr Burns’ night.  We’ll have asked ourselves why we don’t eat haggis, neeps and tatties on a more regular basis.  Then we’ll remember what we read in the paper about the critical shortage of courgettes and other veg from Spain and Italy at the moment, and it will dawn on us that maybe we will be having neeps and tatties more regularly, like it or not.

But it’s not all bad news.  The joys of the haggis meal are limitless.  It’s the simplest dinner party in the world – boiling and mashing whilst leaving the wee beestie to its own business in the oven means more time for socialising and champagne drinking.  There’s barely any washing up.  It tastes fabulous and when else can you open a bottle of whisky and pour it onto your food ‘as a gravy’ – Wayne, of course, thinks this rocks!

So, speaking of Whisky we can offer:

Benromach 10 year old £36.99

Speymalt Macallan 2006 £37.99

Connoisseurs Choice Arran 2006 £38.99

Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002 £42.99

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 2003 £45.99

Highland Park 2006 (Cask Strength) £50.00

Connoisseurs Choice Royal Brackla 1998 £52.99

Coopers Choice Glenrothes 1997 £69.69

MacPhail’s 21 year old £69.99

Ardmore 1996 £72.99

Should you not wish to use up all your units on hard spirit we have plenty of wine recommendations for the Scottish dinner.  Reds from the Rhone and Spain have historically given us great pleasure and with this in mind we’ll break from the norm this week and open two reds for tasting, one from each of the above regions:

Celler de Capçanes Mas Picosa de flor en flor 2013, Montsant, Spain (£13.29) – Montsant is the area surrounding Priorat, in the hills behind Tarragona, just south of Barcelona.  This is a winning blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah giving us plenty of brambly aromas with a juicy vibrant palate and a lovely fresh finish, which we think will be spot on with almost everything meaty.  Oh, and it’s organic.

Boutinot Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux’ 2013, Rhône, France (£10.99) – Common practice in the Côtes du Rhône is to bottle the best cuvées as a single named Village wine and the rest as basic Rhône Villages.  The philosophy with this wine, however, is to start with the intention of making the very best Côtes du Rhône Villages possible.  They source wine from the vineyards of named villages and enrich them with a small proportion of barrel-aged wine from Sablet, Séguret and Cairanne.  The results are fabulous, as you can taste here, with well-balanced brambly fruit and soft tannin that is bang on the money and always a crowd pleaser – can you believe we haven’t put this on a weekend tasting since April 2011?

So there you go – a round-up of the week just gone and some ideas for next week including an offer some fun wine education!

We’re off now to play a kazoo duet at the Trump inauguration – do anything for a buck and a corndog in January!

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