Wayne is not a muse…

Fellow Wine Lovers,

First up, the usual plea:

I’m sure you have heard that data protection laws are changing from 28th May 2018 and this will affect how all businesses hold and use customers email addresses.

As you know, we regularly send you Park Vintners Weekly Wine –  however, as a consequence of this law change, it will be necessary for you to opt in again to our communications moving forwards.

All businesses, including Park Vintners, will have to update their database and effectively create new lists of “subscribed/legal” users.

To do this, all of our emails from now until late May will have a reminder that asks whether you want to “want to keep hearing from us”.

Please do send us an email in reply to stay subscribed – currently we have about 30% of you opted in and by opting in this  ensures you’ll be kept up to date with all of our usual nonsense the information we send out.

You will no longer hear from us after 28th May 2018 if you haven’t.

Thank you for your time – now, on with the show…

You know what, we’ve been writing this Friday email/blog in one form or another for just about 11 years now, first with Wines of the World and, since 2010, for ourselves.  Over time we’ve seen it as a challenge to produce one every week and so far we have risen to this challenge.  We scour the news both from the real world and the wine world, we often research random topics to gain everyone that extra edge in dinner party conversations and, occasionally, we mention sport.

Some weeks the email writes itself.  Give us lots of exciting wine news or something to rant about and we are on it like a car bonnet.  But every now and then we have weeks like this one.  The majority of the news seems to only have six degrees of obsessive separation from the Royal Family – yesterday afternoon the front page Reuters headlines included:

Prince William will be brother Harry’s best man at wedding

Florida man’s Princess Di collection celebrates her legacy, fills house

Meghan Markle marries in last ‘Suits’ appearance before royal wedding

And these do not even include mention of the new royal baby, what the new royal baby might be called (which we now know and can expect real-time reactions to this news all day), the fact that Prince Charles is delighted to be a grandfather again or the fact that the Queen was 92 last weekend.  And it doesn’t look likely to abate in the near future.

So, the news is giving me nothing this week, which has left me slightly bereft of inspiration.

Add to this the fact that Wayne is currently knee deep in Sake, Sushi and Sumo somewhere in the Japanese hinterland and I come to the worrying conclusions that, firstly, my muse has deserted me and, massively more disturbingly, that Wayne is perhaps my muse?!

Moving swiftly on from such aberrations, I scour the wine news and find myself reading about Bordeaux 2017 – a subject that Wayne would usually talk about – is there no end to his power over me?

Anyway, moving away from my paranoia, it seems appropriate to dally with Bordeaux for a moment since it was this day last year, 27th April, in the early hours of the morning, that a ferocious frost hit Bordeaux and destroyed so many young buds, shoots and bunches at the onset of the growing season that approximately 40% – 50% of production was lost.  Not since 1991 had Bordeaux been hit so hard and the obvious knock on effect is that we will see less wine in the market – perhaps more worryingly for many of us, it was the daily drinking Chateaux that seem to have been hit the hardest, whilst the majority of top growths got away with it!  However, it was still a very ordinary summer with a bit more rain than necessary until August turned up, hot and dry.  Then it was wet in September, which has made some of the daily wines a bit dilute…. all in all a tricky vintage, the right bank really suffered worse than the left, so good for you Cabernet lovers, a lot less good for the Merlot fans.

And what of the prices?  Well, as we all know, reality and Bordeaux property owners don’t go to the same parties, so don’t expect miracles.  Having said that, Chateau Palmer 2016 was 240 euro per bottle on release whilst the 2017 was released at 192 euro this week.  In the more realistic world, Chateau Labégorce in Margaux has released at 17.80 euro per bottle, a 10% drop.

A bargain.

Well, actually yes, if one considers that Chateau Haut-Batailley has released at 42 euros a bottle, up about 46% from the 28 euros it released the 2015 for.  Apparently they want to ‘reposition the brand’ and raising the prices like this is how you do it.  I’m fairly sure if we tried to ‘reposition our brand’ and make everything 50% more expensive we would soon find ourselves repositioned in the queue at the job centre.

The conclusion I draw from all this?  Drink Rhone wines, or Portuguese, or Spanish, or south Italian, or Czech, or Hungarian, or South African or….

With this in mind let me introduce you to the wines of Ai Galera.

Tejo is a region east of Lisbon that has been overlooked for too long, as indeed has the whole of Portugal.   This is absolutely where the value lies nowadays and I hope we will list more wines from this part of the peninsula as time goes on.  We have two wines from the winery:

Ai Galera Mistico 2017 – £8.79, is a blend of Fernão Pires and Verdelho.  Golden-yellow in the glass, entirely unoaked and with a lovely soft, satisfying, juicy fruit character.  Wayne thought some grilled sardines, Alex thought some lemon sole, what do you think?

Ai Galera Poetico 2016 – £8.79, this is a blend of the indigenous varieties Castelão 40%, Trincadeira 40% and Tinta Miúda 20%, since you ask and is utterly delicious.  Unoaked and juicy, with soft tannins, a medium body and red berry fruits that would partner up nicely with that chicken leg you’ve roasted up to a tasty crispiness for Tuesday’s supper!

So, bye bye Bordeaux, hello Tejo!

That’s it from me this week apart from admin – as an advance warning, the shop will be closed on Wednesday 2nd May during the day, hopefully opening in the evening – I have a rather important appointment out of town and will endeavour to get back as soon as I can, apologies in advance for any inconvenience – I will be here all the rest of the week, I promise!

Enjoy the weekend, drink some wine and recycle your bottles because, as Mr Macron told congress, there is no planet B!

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