Six Nations, Ferrari, Nerello Mascalese and Cyclocross

February 2nd, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well what did we learn this week? Well, we learnt that Corporation Tax will not increase in the event of a Labour Government at the next election. We also learnt that Jeremy Hunt won’t be giving out big tax cuts at the spring budget. Not what he told us last week, but I think the IMF might have had a quiet word.

We also learnt that the Environment Agency hasn’t been checking sewage permits ‘as frequently as it should.’ We learnt that an Exmouth swimmer is taking legal action against South West Water for ‘loss of amenity’ after she was unable to swim in the sea due to all the sewage spills. We also learnt that Wednesday’s global sea surface temperature of 21.1˚C equalled the all-time record set in August 2023 which means, rather scarily, we’re headed into uncharted waters!

We learnt that there are an almost infinite number of excuses from politicians of all badges on why they deleted their WhatsApp messages. Everyone that stands up in front of the covid enquiry seems to have a different reason, it’s almost like they all have something to hide. We also learnt that Ed Davey is sorry that he sorry he ‘did not see through the Post Office’s lies.’ On the plus side, everyone knows who he is now!

After the best part of two years of ‘working from home’ it would appear that the members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are likely to be heading back to the office after a deal was finally hashed out with the DUP. Let’s hope so, the DUP have caused enough distrust and disillusionment to last a generation. It’ll likely be a bumpy road ahead.

Shocker of the week for me was Mercedes losing Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari for next year. Obviously it is to drive one of their Formula 1 cars rather than join in their new found passion for world sailing competitions. Given his frustration at this season’s performance with Mercedes, I’m not sure he’ll necessarily get a more competitive vehicle at Ferrari; it’s at least 15 years since they won a championship. Time will tell I guess.

Whilst on the subject of wheeled sports, the UCI World Championship Cyclocross is this weekend in Tabor, Czechia. Men’s Elite defending champion Tom Pidcock is not defending his title, so difficult to see past Matthieu van der Poel given his 11 wins from 12 starts this season, but do keep an eye out for Cameron Mason in the GB jersey and Eli Iserbyt from Belgium. Women’s Elite I’m struggling to see past Fem van Empel to be honest, but have high hopes that Zoe Backstedt will improve on her 2nd place last year in the U23. I haven’t seen any racing in the men’s U23 so am completely in the dark there.

Six Nations Rugby starts this week, England travel to Italy for the early game on Saturday (14.15). Marcus Smith is sitting on the sofa following an injury and England have a few new faces in the squad which should make for an interesting watch. We have a man on the ground in Rome taking notes so we should be able to provide a more succinct summary in the not too distant. It’s going to be warm in Rome so don’t forget your sunblock!

The tournament actually kicks off on Friday evening with France hosting Ireland, whilst Wales will host Scotland for the late game Saturday.

We’ll go with a six nations influence on the tasting wines this week visiting France and Italy.

For the white lovers we’ll open Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2022 – £11.49.  This Languedoc estate belonging to the Fayet family based in the village of Moussan close to Narbonne.  The property has a small brook running around the outskirts which provides natural irrigation to give much needed water.  This gives the wines their freshness and appeal; keeping the vines cool in a very hot climate.  A flirty Viognier: shimmering hay and peaches with a lush viscous texture give way to a sensual palate of roses, pineapples and mangoes.  Delicious with Thai or fusion food, or some big, juicy langoustines.

The red hails from Sicily and is Cantine Paolini Nerello Mascalese 2021 (£11.89). One of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, unsurprisingly grown on volcanic soils, it has an easy going personality with red cherry fruits, a touch of spice and a nice fresh finish with fine tannins. I think I’d consider Tandoori Chicken with this, but also perhaps a rich fish stew!

Tail End of January

January 26th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

That I’m typing this suggests that we have successfully reached another Friday, and that most of the 4000 days of January are now behind us.  So, group hug, that’s quite an achievement.

We thought we’d start this week with the tale of Betty Brussel. Betty was born in Holland in 1924 and moved to Canada in 1959. Having learnt to swim as a child in the canals near Amsterdam, in her mid-60’s she took up competitive swimming when she decided to race in the British Columbia Senior Games. Last Saturday, she took more than 4 minutes off of the World Record 400 metres freestyle in the 100-104 year old age group. Not content to sit on her laurels, competing in five events in total, she also set new records for the 50 metres backstroke and 50 metres breaststroke. An impressive lady I’m sure you’ll agree.

Talking of impressive, Simon Clarke MP, who was in charge of Levelling up in Lettuce Liz’s government, has written an article suggesting that the Tory party is facing extinction at the next election. Apparently, Rishi Sunak is not the person to lead them into the next election and it is time for a new leader. Are we all dead keen to witness some more Tory energy focussed on choosing yet another new leader? They do, after all, seem to have an almost endless pool of top talent available.

Sadly for us, the MP’s themselves seem to think there are more important things to be getting on with. Apparently, war in the Middle East, war in Eastern Europe and interfering with Channel shipping really is more important.  Indeed Mr Clarke has been described somewhat disparagingly by his colleagues as:  “getting silly”,dangerous, reckless, selfish” and “throwing his teddies in the corner”. We’re guessing that’s a NO then Simon!

Across the pond, US democracy seems determined to continue to eat itself. Donald Trump has managed to find time between his court appearances to attend a couple of Republican Primary Nominations. He won both; Ron DeSantis withdrew from the race leaving just Nikki Haley in the way of him and the Republican nomination. I do sometimes wonder what on earth everyone is thinking!

Elsewhere in the world, after some off-piste commentary on Darts and Snooker we seem to be moving over to more familiar sports again. That said, I’m not entirely sure the first test in India has got off to the start England were hoping for. On the plus side, Six Nations Rugby starts next week and if you fancy a behind the scenes warm up I think the docuseries has just popped up on Netflix.

In wine news, hot on the coat tails of price rise reports comes news that Champagne shipments fell last year. It would appear the Champenois haven’t linked cause and correlation yet and are keen to push on with further price rises as mentioned in a previous message.

The Pope has declared that wine is “a gift from God” and “a true source of joy” for its consumers. A sentiment we can certainly get on board with, as have many Italian wine producers.

Because we’ve been around the block a few times and generally pay our bills in a timely fashion, we do occasionally get offered interesting things. We have today been offered such a thing by the agent for Chateau d’Esclans. There is a limited edition case available of two bottles each of their three estate wines for 2022. These are generally regarded as the crème de la crème of Provence rosé and I know one or two of you have ordered these wines from us in the past, so I thought we would put it out there. I have attached full details, there are only 180 cases are available in the UK and they are priced at £529.99 for the six pack. If you would you like one do come straight back to me and I’ll order it for you. 

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll start off in the white corner with a bottle of Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2021 (£17.99). The estate is still family owned and into the fifth generation. Back in 1912 Ernest Wente imported a selection of different Chardonnay cuttings from a vine nursery in Montpellier. He then selected those that showed the healthiest character and best flavours, before grafting the best two together. Ultimately he created what is known as the ‘Wente Clone’. These days around 75% of the Chardonnay plantings in California are of the Wente Clone.

The red corner belongs to Australia this week. Seppeltsfield Barossa Grenache 2022 (£25.99) will be raising its screwcap in a salute to today’s Australia Day. Seppeltsfield are regarded as true pioneers of the Australian wine industry, the estate was founded in 1851 by Joseph Seppelt. In 1888 they installed one of the world’s first gravity fed cellars which, following restoration is back in use today.

Both of these wines are delicious so do come and have a taste with us.

With that we’re done.       

Burn’s Night and Losing Parks

January 19th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Greetings from the coal-face, or perhaps that should be cold face.

According to www.timeanddate.com mid-afternoon yesterday, when the sun was out and the sky was as cobalt as a blue poison dart frog, the temperature in London was 3° Celsius.  We were 33rd in the 50 ‘European’ capitals charted – Valletta, Gibraltar, Athens, Monaco, Tirana were all about 20° Celsius whilst Riga, Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm and Moscow were all between -5° and -10°.  No real surprises in any of this, just good to know we could be colder… or warmer.

Darwin, at the same time (about 2am for them) was 29°.

Meanwhile, in Kigali they were having thunderstorms whilst experiencing temperatures similar to Monaco, which was enjoying sunshine – peas in a pod really.  Speaking of Rwanda, Rishi’s bill seems to have avoided a revolt, for now, however its next stop at the Lords might not be so easy. Of course, skirting human rights law should not be as easy as imprisoning postmasters,  however if the worst comes to the worst, Paul Kagame has said he could return the £240 million they have received, which could be used to extend the Fujitsu contract for a few more years…

We didn’t save Wimbledon Park Golf Club but we still have a hope that the AELTC plans for the park won’t succeed.  This starts to feel like there is a real risk of a dangerous precedent developing when we read https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/09/locals-hit-back-at-spurs-football-plans-for-green-biodiverse-space-tottenham-enfield-london and then, further up north https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-12970233/Manchester-United-turn-attention-golf-courses-potential-sites-new-training-ground-Red-Devils-holding-preliminary-talks-one-club-possible-move.html.  Can we really continue to build on green space to satisfy wealthy sports businesses?  Discuss.

Meanwhile, back in our igloo, Wayne has been out hunting and gathering neeps, tatties and haggis this week, in advance of Burns Night next Thursday, 25th January.  As ever, an opportunity to eat offal and drink whisky is hard to pass by and this year we’re recommending:

Mary Queen of Scots 12 year old Blended Malt – £40.00 

Blended by Ian Macleod Distillers in Broxburn, near Edinburgh this comprises a minimum of 12 Premier Single Malts, all 12 years old, to reflect the 12 years in total which Mary Queen of Scots spent in Scotland. Premier Malts use only the best Scots barley in the distilling process to achieve the traditional unique flavour which is the pride of Scotland and beyond.

Royal Mile Whiskies described it thus:

Nose – Caramelised white fruits topping American style pancakes.  Caramel sauce and a malty hint come through as well.

Palate – Toffee notes and more white fruit lead the palate before a slightly prickly dryness introduces a malt barley body.

Finish – A slight sugary sweet hint comes and goes as the malty flavour combines with just a whisper of smokiness.

Whilst Archie, at Luvians in St Andrews had, for me, the best note:

A total breakfast whisky – Golden syrup drizzled over old school drop scones, Frosties with full cream milk and wee glass of Ovaltine on the side.

Boom.

Of course, we have other drams to offer, for example:

SPEYSIDE     

Benromach 10 year old – £45.00

Benromach 15 year old – £70.00

Longmorn 2005 – £70.00

HIGHLAND  

Dalmore 15 year old – £98.00

The Glenturret 12 year old – £70.00

Tomatin 12 year old – £44.00

Tomatin 12 year old Amarone Edition – £73.00

ISLAY

Bunnahabhain 10 year old (Peated) – £58.00

Bunnahabhain 11 year old (Sherried) – £58.00

Caol Ila 13 year old – £58.00

Finlaggan Old Reserve – £36.00

OTHERS        

Canmore Original Single Malt Whisky – £40.00

London Square 12 year old – £40.00

Mary Queen of Scots 12 year old Blended – £40.00

However, if you’d rather enjoy a fancy bottle of plonk with your pluck, we might suggest trying the wines we have on tasting this weekend.

Cave de Hunawihr Reserve Pinot Gris 2021 – £18.99 – Grapes for this wine are from 30 year old vines, grown on the south-facing slopes, at around 280m above sea level.  The wine is quite full-bodied with enticing peach and pear aromas.  The palate is packed with stone fruits as the nose suggested, a touch of spice and a lovely viscosity before the long, fresh, fruit-driven finish.  On the back label, it describes itself as medium dry, full-bodied and smoky – how can one resist?!

Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine 2020 – £21.49

So, this is from Lirac which is across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a more famous region with which it shares many winning attributes.  The grapes in this wine are a hand harvested blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre which gives us the powerful and well-built wine we’d expect.  A complex nose of vanilla, fruits and dark cherries, the mouth is rich and firm with again those dark cherries and long lasting notes of vanilla and pepper whilst the finish is smooth and rich with a very good length – should be perfect on 25th January!

That, I think is that from us.  Not sure if we’ve mentioned it before and apologies if we are repeating ourselves – this month we offer a January Sale/VAT bill fundraiser whereby if you purchase 6 bottles we’ll give you a discount of 16.66%!  That’s 6 for 5 in old money and covers most of the wines in the shop with the exception of some of the top-shelfers that make little margin!  We can tell you more when you turn up with your empty car boot….

Right, I’m off to defrost my typing fingers!

The good old BUY SIX, PAY FOR FIVE mechanic

January 12th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re not even half way through January but 2024 is already starting to feel a little bit meh.

Why we thought a change of year would suddenly make a huge difference to the status quo I don’t know but hope we did.  However upon reading this ‘tweet’ by the Member of Parliament for Witham:

I was pleased to pay tribute to the brave sub-postmasters whose fight for justice has captured the nation. Since I was elected in 2010 I have fought their cause in Parliament because for me this is personal. Post Office and Fujitsu must be held to account.

We realised that it was business as usual in Westminster – tell a big fib in order to enhance your reputation whilst arrogantly expecting everyone to accept it as fact – and Hansard soon proved this.

Meanwhile, Rev Paula has handed back her CBE when she should really be handing back her bonuses and Fujitsu shares seem to be bouncing back from last week’s drop…

But it’s not all bad news – we could all be working for Brewdog who have generously dropped out of the Living Wage Foundation but have pledged to pay their ‘crew’ the legal minimum wage, which is clearly a good way to improve staff retention.

Knowing how much you have missed his sports reporting, Wayne is keen for you all to know that there has been plenty of Cyclocross to watch over the holidays, so if you are a fan of grown-ups cycling around extremely muddy fields, this is for you.  He also wants you to know that he fully supports the selection of Andy Farrell as head coach for the Lions tour Down Under in 2025 but is at a loss to predict who will be the fly half in the starting line-up.

Very little news in the world of wine save that prices seem set to rise again.  As Bollinger informed us a week or so back, their increases are due to the price of grapes rising by as much as 10% combined with increasing costs of labour, energy, and packaging materials, from paper to foils and cases, as well as, most importantly, glass, which is up 40%. 

Happy, happy days.

With this in mind, why not future- proof your wine drinking a little by dipping into our annual January ‘sale’ – the good old BUY SIX, PAY FOR FIVE mechanic. 

It’s as simple as it sounds – choose 6 bottles and we promise to give you a 16.6666% discount off this purchase, which we think is a pretty decent offering?  There are a few exceptions to this offer – spirits, top shelf Champagnes and wines that we only get a small allocation of but, apart from these, there are still plenty of bottles for the discerning shopper to choose from. 

Some of you have already taken full advantage of this deal and will likely return for round two but many of you are yet to dip you toes into this wine lake.  We suggest you don’t tarry too long, we’ve got lots of empty cardboard boxes waiting to be filled and we have more stock now than we’d like to have on the 1st February when we return to the standard 5% off 6/10% off 12 discount so, in this instance, it’s worth being an early adopter….

Sales pitch done, what shall we open this weekend?  I reckon a couple of Spanish speakers from our £100 Case Club might fit the bill nicely:

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2021 – £18.49

Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza – one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Argentina.  Its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes.  This Chardonnay has citrus and tropical fruit notes, gently underlined with vanilla from the oak, which is delicately balanced with both fruit and freshness.

Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel Lecco Crianza 2019 – £21.99

It took us a while, and involved kissing a lot of frogs but finally we found a suitable replacement for the Emilio Moro.  This is 100% Tempranillo from 30 year old vines aged for 14 months in a mix of 70% French and 30% American oak.  A complex and rich wine with a medium body, dark red fruit character, a touch of coffee and touches of spice into the long, lingering finish.  Slow roast lamb anyone?

So, shake off that early January ennui and take a walk to your local wine shop – a spot of exercise rewarded by a nice box of wine, perfect and we can raise a glass to JPR and Franz, two sporting giants who pulled the cork this week…

Cheers!

Happy New Year and a January Sale

January 5th, 2024

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Welcome to 2024, we’ve had a word with the powers that be and had it extended by a day just because it’s going to be so much fun. It does mean some things will have changed though. Those of you with a birthday after February will have to wait a day longer to blow out the candles, those of you born on 29th February actually get to have a birthday this year and those of you with birthdays in January can proceed as normal.

In other news, we can’t help but wonder at different parenting styles. So many parents spend their weekends touring cold wet touchlines around the Home Counties watching junior play rugby, football, cricket or hockey.  Sometimes it’s a combination of those sports or, indeed, others. Special waterproof coats with zip in liners are purchased for when it’s really cold, and certainly too many petrol station sandwiches are consumed. Luke Littler’s parents just took him to the pub didn’t they? Who thought a young lad could generate so much excitement around darts eh? Quite the achievement, especially eliminating your hero on the way!

We will be offering our usual January Sale terms of six bottles for the price of five. That’s the equivalent of a whopping 16.6% discount. As usual, if we’ve had to beg for an allocation of something it’s excluded from the sale. Otherwise, do feel free to come and empty the shelves.

If you’ve sworn off for the month we do have the rather tasty Belle & Co Alcohol Free Sparkling (£5.99) – Made from grape juice and infused with green tea, it offers a lovely hint of white flower aromas and is zingy and fresh on the palate thanks to its well-balanced acidity. Belle & Co has no alcohol, low sugar, no gluten and around half the calories of the average fizz – what’s not to like? It is also Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.

With apologies for our brevity this week, we’ll wish you health, prosperity and laughter.

Wave on your way to the gym and a Happy New Year!

We’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2024!

December 29th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We’re back, are you?  We’re fuelled with turkey, mince pies and a selection of strange liqueurs from the back of the cocktail cabinet. We’ve drunk some lovely wine, a pint in a village pub and even several cups of coffee.

To round up briefly on the year, we opened our commentary in January talking about Nadhim Zahawi’s brass neck.  We wonder what happened to him.

February saw us witness a Cabinet reshuffle, Scotland beat England at Twickenham and Steak and Peppercorn Sauce was the most popular meal for Valentine’s Day.

March floated in on a tide of Government ministers trying to get Gary Lineker sacked, Alex was full of alarming facts about dictators following his podcast discoveries and Tom Pidcock became the first Brit to win Le Strade Bianchi.

April brought us the London Marathon, a new album from Everything But The Girl and a resignation from Dominic Raab who said he’d give us a slap if we said he was a bully, so we’re definitely not suggesting that at all.

If it’s May already then Wayne is cycling in Mallorca, Penny Mordaunt is starring as Lady of the Lake at the King’s Coronation and Rishi Sunak is delivering on his promise to lose 1,000 councillors at the local elections.

June arrived with suitcases of Saudi cash for golfers, World Gin Day and Nadine Dorries promising to resign after failing to receive an ermine gown, a promise finally delivered in August.

July found a group of cyclists and buses meandering around France, some Ashes cricket matches and Wayne arriving late for a meeting due to over confidence in the Northern Line. Mad Nads was still Ermine hunting by sending WhatsApp’s to ministers trying to get on Lettuce Liz’s honours List.

August found the roads of SW London empty, Nadine finally threw in the towel and Rishi rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic. Although, he preferred to name it a ‘mini’ shuffle.

September found Wayne eating Pistachio ice cream, Michael O’Leary received a cream pie to the face whilst speaking in Brussels and coastguards arrested a man for trying to cross the Atlantic in a human sized hamster wheel.

October saw Donald Trump fall off of the Forbes Rich List, Bernie Ecclestone pay £625 million to the HMRC and the Rolling Stones collaborating with Lady Gaga.

November arrived with an almost indecent haste with Nigel Farage in the jungle, a sad farewell to Oddbins and another rearrangement of deckchairs on the Cabinet cruise ship. Rishi still likes to call it a reshuffle. Not to be out done, Kier Starmer managed to do a bit of rearranging the Shadows too.

Here we are at the tail end of December and we find ourselves wanting to thank you all for reading this far, thank you for shopping with us and bringing your cheer, stories and anecdotes to our door. We’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2024!

We’re here till 6pm today, noon till 6pm tomorrow and Noon till 5pm on Sunday. We shall then return on Friday 5th January from Noon till 7pm so that you can all wave to us on the way to Bounce.

Let’s be careful out there folks and don’t accept any drinks from James Cleverly, he sounds like a wrong’un.

Wafer Thin Mint?

December 22nd, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Shortest day yesterday, which meant the sun was over the yard arm before 4pm and, if you didn’t see us, we were wearing shorts all day but if you did see us, you know what you saw!  The good news that goes alongside this is that the days are now getting longer and, in anticipation of summer being on its way, we have good supplies of Provence Rosé, pink Cremant de Loire and, of course, ice.

By all accounts though, before we reach full summer-summer- summertime we need to hurdle Easter.  Oh, and before that Valentine’s Day, I’m told.  Prior to that, we have New Year’s Eve to toast in but not much else worth mentioning, I think.

However, in a stoke of diary serendipity, it seems that we all have next Monday and Tuesday off, so what better excuse to have a few people round.  Drinks, nibbles and a roast containing at least three styles of potato, carrots prepared two ways, bacon sprinkled over sprouts, chestnuts, chipolatas, chipolatas wrapped in bacon, parsnips (again cooked in two ways because Martin doesn’t like them cooked the way you normally do them), red cabbage, broccoli with pancetta, minted peas and, in some rogue households, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire pudding?!  Oh, and of course a turkey, a sirloin, cold gammon and a side of smoked salmon – some with stuffing, at least three kinds… seems like the only way to celebrate such universal, coincidental fortune!

And, since there are whopping 8 of you at the table, you probably need something extra to ensure you don’t get hungry later: Christmas Pudding, Mince Pies, Yule Log, Profiteroles, Treacle Pudding and then a cheese platter including a half-wheel of Long Clawson should just about cover it.

Brandy butter or cranberry sauce with all that?  And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint?

Boom!

Anyway, as a consequence of having Monday and Tuesday off (and in fact Wednesday and Thursday too), we will be working some extra hours this weekend:

TODAY – 12 – 7PM

TOMORROW, 23RD DECEMBER – 12 – 7PM

SUNDAY 24TH DECEMBER – 12 – 4PM

And, whilst toiling away, we will be getting very tucked into the Foxdenton Estate Christmas Liqueur – £25 which Wayne tells me is excellent over an ice cube, or mixed with some sparkling wine but also quite fun in a hip flask on Tuesday’s ‘recovery’ walk!

However, before we get too tucked in, we’re going to open up some Burgundies for everyone’s delectation, from one of our favourite producers, Domaine Belleville.

Rully ‘La Crée’ 2020 – £32.49 – Founded in the early 20th Century, Domaine Belleville have expanded and now cover 18 hectares.  ‘La Crée’ refers to a stony piece of land to the east of the village, just below Premier Cru ‘La Pucelle’.  We really enjoy their wines as they have a real sense of place – the wine itself is a pale gold with aromas of melon, citrus and buttercream whilst the palate is open with a luscious richness, citrus fruit character and a lovely fresh finish.  Top quality burgundy that would be rather delicious with the main event!

Mercurey ‘Champ Ladoy’ 2019 – £33.00 – This is from two very different parcels of vines one facing north and one facing east, resulting in a good balance of freshness and richness.  The vines are around 45 years old adding some great intensity too.  Lovely and open with raspberries and blackberries giving us the fruity attack, fine delicate tannins and a nice length just hinting at a little earthy spiciness.  An excellent foil to Monday’s banquet but equally great with Tuesday’s ‘Round Two’!

Who knows, if you twist our arm we might open some fizz too and I fully expect some port to be passed to the left…

So pop in and see us, greet our seasons and then stock up well because we won’t be back in again until Friday 29th December!

Top to toe in tailbacks?  Thanks but I think I’ll miss this one this year!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Total Recall or Not

December 15th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

The verbal evidence part of the Covid inquiry ended this week with Rishi Sunak. Our poor beleaguered Prime Minister was unable to recall so many discussions, meetings or passwords to his WhatsApp that we found ourselves wondering if all prospective Cabinet Ministers should undergo memory tests before being offered the job.

Parliament then passed a bill basically stating that, regardless of anyone else’s opinion, Rwanda was a safe country. It seemed to us rather like passing a law that stated that all cats are now dogs in the eyes of the government but what do we know?

Just when you thought the world couldn’t any sillier, we find that Kemi Badenoch is rather keen to fill the shoes left behind by mad Nads. This week the Business and Equalities Minister called a study into the 14th Century plague ‘woke archaeology’ and that the study risks undermining trust in modern health services. What is she expecting it to unearth? Will we discover a stock of hessian masks that have been stored for centuries? Is there a luxury hoy out there, paid for with the ill-gotten gains of a fast-track herb saleswoman?

We were all of a flutter to discover that Tesco has had to recall its Finest Apple & Cranberry Stuffing Mix because it may contain moths! Over the pond, Tesla has recalled two million vehicles after the autopilot software was found to be less good at avoiding things than it should be.

Speaking of Christmas treats, many of you will recall that we have a seasonal beauty in Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur (£25). Made with Winslow Plums and a blend of traditional Christmas spices including Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, and Star Anise, our Christmas Liqueur, is the ideal winter warmer. All this needs is a mince pie and an open fire. It’s been known to share a glass of fizz too, in a Christmas spiced upgrade to a Kir Royale.

We still have some stock of the six bottle Claret Case at £135 and the enormously popular Christmas Case at £150. Tasting notes attached for your perusal.

CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS

MONDAY 18th – SATURDAY 23rd DECEMBER 12 NOON – 7PM

SUNDAY 24th DECEMBER 12 NOON – 4PM

MONDAY 25th – THURSDAY 28th DECEMBER CLOSED

FRIDAY 29th & SATURDAY 30th DECEMBER 12 NOON – 6PM

SUNDAY 31st DECEMBER 12 NOON – 5PM

MONDAY 1st – THURSDAY 4th JANUARY CLOSED

FRIDAY 5th JANUARY 12 NOON – 7PM

BACK TO NORMAL

On the tasting front this weekend, we’ll dip our taste buds into Sylvain Dussort Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée Des Ormes 2020 (£27.99). Some of you are familiar with this wine and know how close to Meursault it is, style wise. Those of you who have yet to experience the pleasure should really drop in and try it.

On the red front, we’ll go and visit Spain, specifically Ribera del Duero. Corimbo 2018 (£27.99) is a deliciously polished red, rich and spicy with forest fruit and a little fuller bodied than a Rioja. What’s not to like?

Plus, for the sweeter toothed, we have the Krohn LBV 2016 (£18.99), which appears in our Christmas Day case.  Krohn ports always seem to punch above their weight for us and the generous plummy characters, freshness and pure berry fruit are surely the best way to end the day!

Glad Tidings

December 8th, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, it’s the first full week of December and news is inundated with the spirit of Christmas and goodwill to all.

The busiest giver of glad tidings has been James who, fresh from signing dodgy deals in Rwanda that filled us all with joy, encored by raising the minimum salary a skilled foreign worker would need to get a visa.  £38,000 is a lot of money, a lot more than £26,200 and a lot more than half of the population earn – if you want a visa now it would be better to retrain as a brickie or a plasterer rather than a master butcher.  The news that we paid Rwanda an extra £100m in April ahead of another £50m next year had us fuming to be honest. That’s a total of £290m spent on dog whistles and we are not even including the millions of pounds spent on legal fees. We could have employed 7631 more people at the Home Office on £38,ooo a year to sort it out properly.

Moving away from Westminster we then watched Boris squirming and fibbing in Paddington whilst Nigel was singing and stripping and making us squirm, all the way from Australia.  Meanwhile Rishi, our Prime Minister, has hit the bottom in the Conservative Home Net Satisfaction Ratings for the Cabinet league table with a whopping -25.4 points.  For context, Jenrick was at +6.6, Cleverly was at +10.6 and Badenoch topped the league with +63.4.  To quote Suella, electoral oblivion beckons… I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Meanwhile, in news from niche sports, the R&A and the USGA have announced changes to the performance of golf balls.  I know, thrilling stuff.  Suffice to say, the idea is to stop the ball travelling as far as it currently does which in real terms means, for the pros, that their drives will now go no further than 320 yards.  If we consider that Rory McIlroy can hit a ball about 335 yards that would mean a 15 yard/4.5% decrease in distance – is that really worth all the upheaval?  A nice new business opportunity for rubber and plastic recycling companies though. John Rahm no longer needs to worry about how far he hits a golf ball, having just signed with LIV golf for a rumoured £450m. Perhaps he could start up a recycling company?

Anyway, that’s enough of the real world, let’s talk more about us.  Fresh from our last outside event of the year on Monday (thank you Emanuel), it’s now eyes down for the next couple of weeks as Christmas starts to lurch into view and the focus is entirely shop based.  With this in mind it’s probably best I let you know our opening hours going forward:

MONDAY 18th – SATURDAY 23rd DECEMBER:  12PM – 7PM

SUNDAY 24th DECEMBER: 12PM – 4PM

MONDAY 25th – THURSDAY 28th DECEMBER:  CLOSED

FRIDAY 29th & SATURDAY 30th DECEMBER:  12PM – 6PM

SUNDAY 31st DECEMBER:  12PM – 5PM

MONDAY 1st – THURSDAY 4th JANUARY:  CLOSED

FRIDAY 5th JANUARY 12PM – 7PM – BACK TO NORMAL!

For those of you yet to dip into our Christmas offerings, the Claret case currently seems to be the most popular, closely followed by the Christmas Day case but all are starting to gain some serious traction, which is very exciting, once again we have attached tasting notes for your perusal.

And of course, the fabulous Foxdenton Christmas Liqueur (£25) is back in stock.  Made with Winslow Plums and a blend of traditional Christmas spices including Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, and Star Anise, this is the ideal winter warmer.  All this needs is a mince pie and an open fire. However, it is equally at home in a glass of fizz or perhaps mixed with some Canada Dry to make it into a longer treat?  Anyway, we’ve got it here, open for tasting so you can make your own minds up!

But before you taste the liqueur, how about sampling some wine?   White, red or port?  Or all three?  Go on then, why not??

We’ll start with one of Alex’s festive favourites, in fact the last time we showed it was this time last year – Valenciso Blanco 2022 – £24.99.  A blend of 70% Viura and 30% Garnacha Blanca, this is sourced from 80 year old vines and then fermented with wild yeasts before lazing around for 9 months in Caucasian oak barrels.  Complex aromas combining pretty, floral characters with preserved lemon, truffle and smoky notes.  The palate is broad and well integrated with nuts and stone fruit characters and fresh candied peel, minerality and crisp citrus acidity on the finish.  The texture in the mouth was similar to a posh Graves but believe me when I say it’s unmistakably Spanish in style which is why I often pair it with the Christmas Eve fish extravaganza!

The red is one of the wines in the Christmas Claret Case – Château Puy Guilhem 2009 – £32.  Based in Fronsac, the stunning 18th century Château Puy Guilhem is located on the hills of Saillans overlooking Pomerol and Lalande de Pomerol.  This wine is from a stellar vintage and now showing some nice maturity.  Made using 100% Merlot, it has a very appealing developed nose with dark berry fruits and a hint of earthy spice.  The palate has a nice richness with full body, juicy and rich fruit with a lovely savoury note to finish – exactly what good Fronsac is all about!

And the port? Well. Let’s open the Krohn LBV 2016 – £18.99, which the eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted in our Christmas Day case.  Krohn ports always seem to punch above their weight for us and the generous plummy characters, freshness and pure berry fruit are surely the best way to end the day!

That’s about it from us for this week, that’s it from Boris and his gulf war syndrome side-tracking at the inquiry; roll on Monday when Mr Rishi Sunak will give his opinion on how history should view him!

Can’t wait.

Can we talk about Christmas yet?

December 1st, 2023

Fellow Wine Lovers,

There’s a lot to get through this week so, if you’re sitting comfortably, let us begin.

Cop28 has started in Dubai. This, of course, is the United Nations Climate Change Conference where heads of state, government officials, global industry leaders, climate experts and private sector representatives fly in to discuss how the rest of us need to cut down on our flights, recycle our sandwich wrappers and stop breathing out so much CO2. Some of you may recall that at COP25 in 2019 Greta Thunberg suggested that it “seems to have turned into some kind of opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes”. With these words echoing in their ears, this year the hosts, United Arab Emirates, have denied it’s just an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals!

The Covid enquiry has been plodding along at its own pace and we’re getting to the pointy end now with members of the then Cabinet taking their turn to help out. We’ve had Dominic Raab demonstrate why he may be considered a bully by talking over everyone, Michael Gove being as slippery as any snake you’ve encountered and just yesterday Matt Hancock was helping out. Only a year ago he was dining out on kangaroo parts for considerably less than Nigel Farage is – that’s inflation right there ladies and gents, less is more!

Elon Musk, owner of the platform formerly known as Twitter, this week launched a bit of a rant against all the companies that have withdrawn advertising from the platform describing it as “blackmail” and that it was likely “to kill the company.”  You have to admire his self-awareness, eh?

This time of year we find ourselves thinking of music rather a lot. Spotify has sent us all our playlist round up for the year. We were a bit surprised to find Dorothy Ashby’s ‘Afro Harping’ at No1 and certainly they seem to think we’ve listened to a lot more Jah Shaka than we imagined and about the correct amount of Demis Roussos!

Whilst on the subject of music, we’d like to pay tribute to wordsmith Shane MacGowan who has passed away this week – he lived it large!

As has become something of a tradition for this time of year we have prepared a number of cases that we hope might inspire you all. Tasting notes are attached, but to whet your appetite here’s a taster…

6 Bottles of Claret – £135 (Includes tasting notes and gift box)

Château Gabelot 2016, AC Bordeaux

Chapelle de Potensac 2017, Médoc

Seigneurs d’Aiguilhe 2016, Côtes de Castillon

Château Saransot-Dupré 2016, Listrac-Médoc

La Fleur de Boüard 2012/14, Lalande de Pomerol

Château Puy Guilhem 2009, Fronsac

6 Bottles For Christmas Day – £150 (Includes tasting notes and gift box)

Lété-Vautrain 204 Brut NV, Charly-Sur-Marne, Champagne, France

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2022/23, Marlborough, New Zealand

Sylvain Dussort ‘Cuvée des Ormes’ 2020, Burgundy, France

Domaine Belleville Mercurey Les Perrières 2019, Burgundy, France

Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2021, Toscana, Italy

Krohn Late Bottled Vintage 2016, Portugal

6 Bottles of Posh – £300 (Includes tasting notes and gift box)

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV, Champagne, France

Joseph Pascal Puligny-Montrachet 2020, Burgundy, France

Pieropan ‘La Rocca’ Soave Classico 2021, Veneto, Italy

Pintia 2015, Toro, Spain

Tenuta Guido al Tasso Cont ‘Ugo 2018/2019, Bolgheri, Italy

Porseleinberg Syrah 2019, Swartland, South Africa 

As always, numbers for some wines are more restricted than others and we have chosen them all for their deliciousness.

The Cresidents will be illuminating the street with seasonal cheer on Saturday with the turning on of the Christmas Lights at Christ the King. The St Luke’s Choir will be leading the carols, 4.15pm for the big switch on.

This weekend also marks our thirteenth birthday. Yes, Park Vintners officially becomes a teenager, hoping to avoid acne, we’re not going to start smoking, we’re not promising to get up early and we’re certainly not listening to what anyone tells us to do.

Today, to celebrate we will open a bottle of Sancerre Le MD de Bourgeois 2020 (£35) tiptop Sancerre from a family with 10 generations of experience and a decent size plot on Les Monts Damnés, a very steep slope just outside Chavignol which Wayne thinks is just about the best site to grow grapes for Sancerre and is often regarded as an ‘unofficial’ Cru.

To add a red, we’ll head down to the southern Rhône for a sip of Domaine de Côte de l’Ange Chateauneuf du Pape 2019 (£33.50) a delicious blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre that got a whopping 96 point score in Decanter. Why not see if you agree with them?

Then tomorrow (Saturday) we shall open a bottle of Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale (£45 or £100 for a magnum). Founded in 1825 and with six generations of handed down knowledge, we are rather fond of this champagne house and we always like to celebrate our birthday with some bubbles!

Lastly, we say goodbye to Alastair Darling, one of our better Chancellors, Henry Kissinger adviser to twelve American presidents, Charlie Munger, one of the world’s best investors and, of course, El Tel…

We’d like to leave you with two views of wisdom:

“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.”― Charles T. Munger

“The most important thing to remember about drunks is that drunks are far more intelligent than non-drunks – they spend a lot of time talking in pubs, unlike workaholics who concentrate on their careers and ambitions, who never develop their higher spiritual values, who never explore the insides of their head like a drunk does.” – Shane MacGowan

Godspeed, one and all.