Stay Sane and Wear a Mac

May 14th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

If we’re honest, Friday seems to have arrived rather quickly this week, so what has happened since we last spoke?

The Champions League final has finally moved to Porto, I suspect flights are selling fast if you’re in possession of a ticket, take a few days though, it’s a great city worth a visit!

Tesla have announced they are to stop taking Bitcoin as payment for your new motor, citing the high use of fossil fuels in the mining process. A more cynical commentator than I might point out that the energy use hasn’t changed since they announced they had bought a chunk of Bitcoin and would henceforth be accepting it as payment. That was way back in February 2021, I guess a lot has changed.

Israel and the Palestinians are back on the front pages for all the reasons they usually occupy news columns, oh for a return to those rosy days of vaccination success news instead.

In news that’ll surprise nobody, David Cameron, testifying in front of a Commons Select Committee, tells us that he was paid “a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister”.  Impressively he managed to keep a straight face when his own speech about lobbying was read back to him.

In news that certainly surprised us, following the runaway success of the European Super League a few weeks ago golf has decided that is exactly what they need themselves. A Saudi backed Super Golf League seems to be in the offing. We’ll see how it pans out as players may well get banned from participating in the Ryder Cup for a start. We’re sure it’s not just  money or even as Amnesty International said “sportswashing” but for the good of the sport in general. Mr McIlroy is not a fan but Mr Rose may well be, so we’ll have to sit it out and see, a launch date is set for September 2022.

In real sports, the Giro d’Italia is enjoying its first week. The weather has been rather wet so we’re not so sure the riders are having as much fun. Poor old Mikel Landa crashed into a policeman marking a traffic island on Wednesday, whilst the BikeExchange  team car crashed into the back of Pieter Serry on the final climb yesterday. We’re not sure if that counts as outside assistance or interference if we’re honest. He was a little angry to say the least, hardly a surprise given that he was knocked off by a motorbike just two months ago! Anyway, if you’re not watching there is everything to play for and, so far, all of this year’s racing has been a bit edge of the seat!

In wine news, Darling Cellars has had an absolute tragedy in the winery with the stand supporting a stainless steel tank collapsing and creating a domino effect knocking other tanks over and damaging the building, causing a 50,000 litre river of red wine to run out of the building. Like the South African wine industry wasn’t facing enough challenges lately.

Whilst we’re on the subject of South African wine, we had a chat with our chum Tom Doran from Doran Vineyards yesterday. He was looking very fresh for a man who’d just spent two days sitting wine exams. Anyway, he brought us the new vintage of Doran Vineyards Arya 2019 (£11.99) which is sporting some very smart new packaging. We have some hanging about in the fridge if you’re in the market for a cracking unoaked blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. We think that its orchard fruit character and orange blossom note will be absolutely spit spot with that Red Prawn Curry on the Friday night takeaway!

Elsewhere, we have a couple of rather fabulous new Mercurey for all you Pinot Noir lovers. Gaëlle at Jérôme Meunier Mercurey Villages 2019 (£22.99) and Domaine Belleville Mercurey Les Perrières 2018 (£27.99) are both really rather splendid and quite possibly the last things we tasted outside of the shop!

I think that’s enough from us for this week.

Stay sane, wear a mac and on Monday you can go indoors or have a cuddle!

Is now the time for Count Binface?

May 7th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Voting, missing out on selection to the Lions squad for the South Africa series and godawful weather – I think that covers the week for all of us.

Having spent the week looking at various manifestos, particularly those regarding the role of London Mayor, I have to contend that by far the most enjoyable and, dare I say it, likely to be acted on was that of Count Binface.  I’m not sure how Richard Hewison from Rejoin EU could promise his voters that we would reverse Brexit bearing in mind his remit only covers London but I am sure that Count Binface would be more likely to succeed in point 19 of his manifesto: The hand dryer in the gents’ toilet at the Crown & Treaty, Uxbridge, to be moved to a more sensible position.  In fairness to Richard though, Binface also had at point 10: London to join the EU.  Perhaps there might have been sense in them working together to increase their voting share, under the lead promise of: Hammersmith Bridge to be repaired, and renamed Wayne – I know of one vote that was guaranteed and they could have doubled these numbers if they’d promised to rename all the parks: how does Hyde Park Vintners, NCP Vintners or Park Vintners & Ride sound?

But they didn’t, and hopefully lessons have been learned for next time because I’m sure the Count will be back even if Richard perhaps isn’t…

And now the weather – what goes on there?  It’s still pigging freezing unless you’re in the sun and as a consequence we have had an astonishing number of customers expressing nostalgia for this time last year – I repeat, what goes on there?  Anyway, we checked our archives and this is what we wrote on 8th May 2020:

I don’t know about you but I’ve found it a bit fresh at points this week yet have been enjoying the sunshine nonetheless. We were chatting about how different the mood might have been if it had been raining for these past six weeks, we won’t dwell on it though as we’ve a lovely long weekend ahead of us. Today is the May Day Bank Holiday Monday, despite my calendar saying it’s Friday.

So, put those rose tinted spectacles away all of you, life wasn’t any better this time last year!

It was also this weekend last year that we all sat down and watched Boris’ now famous address to the nation, telling us that lockdown wouldn’t be ending, pubs would not be opening and what, as Matt Lucas brilliantly parodied, we should do:

“So we are saying don’t go to work, go to work, don’t take public transport go to work, don’t go to work.  If you can work from home, go to work.  Don’t go to work.  Go outside.  Don’t go outside.  And then we will or won’t, something or other.”

In the world of Gin, finally there is some sense being talked in relation to what does and doesn’t qualify as ‘craft’. 

Harpers magazine recently held a panel discussion, entitled: ‘Think Gin: Modishness versus Marketing’.

A small batch gin producer expressed their frustration saying:

“The term ‘craft’ has been hijacked by several of the larger distilleries; unfortunately there is no legal definition of a craft brand… To cite an example, we were contacted several weeks ago by an individual looking for a supplier reference, who was starting a new gin brand. We welcome new faces in the market, but the individual stated that they had simply hired a company to make the gin for them – about 1,000 bottles per day.  I tried to explain that this does not qualify as craft gin.  Their response was: ‘Yes, but it sells well, doesn’t it’.”

(James Lawrence, harpers.co.uk, 05 May, 2021)

Anyway, we applaud these sentiments, which is why we looked Walter at Hepple and Braden at Doghouse squarely in the eye and demanded to look under the bonnet before we listed them!

As a post-script to this, the small batch gin producer’s website banner page states that they are ‘THE WORLD’S BEST CONTEMPORARY LONDON DRY GIN’.  It’s funny but there seems to be no legal definition of best….

Anyway, that’s enough from us this week – it might be rose weather but then it might not.  So buy rosé and sit in the garden.  Or don’t buy rosé and sit inside.  Sit inside whilst getting rosy on the outside.  Or buy white and red and rosé but drink beer.  Take an umbrella, take a parasol but Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99 – wear sunscreen!

Out.

Wine and Wallpaper for the Bank Holiday?

April 30th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

It’s a Bank Holiday this weekend. We’ve lined up rain, rosé and some fresh fish at the farmers market to cover all basses. Wayne won’t be cycling in Mallorca, Alex won’t be swearing at the WhatsApp he’s just received showing a beachside cold beer with a parked bicycle in the background, and none of us are going to the cinema yet.

A man in Bromley has highlighted just how exciting life in the ‘burbs is by taking six years to park in each and every one of the 211 parking spaces at his local supermarket. We absolutely loved the eccentricity of his project, describing it as like a boring version of Panini sticker books and he even used a spreadsheet to log his spaces, allotting a different colour as each row got filled. The crowning glory for us though, was that his name was Gareth WILD!

In other news, we are beginning to wonder if it’ll be curtains for some of the cabinet and their project to turn Westminster into an enchanted forest full of magic money trees for their chums. It seems the Prime Minister, who once called Nigeria “fantastically corrupt”, has studied rather closely a particular way of governing and its proceeds. But we’re beginning to wonder if that brash foolishness really is just stupidity.

So, imagine for a moment you’re in the PM’s shoes, your hair was cut in a dark room by a barber in a blindfold and you’re wearing Wurzel Gummidge’s emergency suit.

Firstly, why would you try and pin your own leaks on the sleeping ogre who fled Barnard Castle last year? It should come as no surprise that he is rather unhappy with his treatment, might have a paper trail of nefarious goings on and coincidentally is due to testify in front a number of select committees in the near future.  Last year he was telling the truth in the rose garden and we were all terribly nasty to think otherwise. This year, he was lying last year in the rose garden. Which is it?

Next, we’d wonder why would you spend £840 a roll on wallpaper when you have a toddler with crayons?

Then we’d wonder why you’d never watched Judge Judy, Suits or even Judge John Deed, because surely, if you had, you would never have walked straight into that barrister’s trap at Prime Ministers Questions this week.

Most importantly we’d wonder why, as an innocent man, you’re so keen to not answer any questions whatsoever but super enthusiastic to invoke enquiries over which you’ll have the final say on their publication. 

It could be us, of course. Perhaps we’re just difficult curmudgeons who think people should act with a certain amount of probity and maybe you’re right with your assertion that this is all a farrago of nonsense.  But we think we’ll be laughing again when we see #carrieantoinette trending – thanks to whoever came up with that one.

As we mentioned, we’re back up to speed with the rosé but, having looked at the forecast for the weekend, we thought it might be prudent to mention a red wine that might fit the bill too. Alex has been particularly enjoying Domaine Lafond Roc Epine Lirac (£18.99) lately, one of the great undervalued appellations of the Rhône, just across the river to Chateauneuf du Pape. A blend of Grenache (60%) Syrah (30%) & Mourvèdre (10%) with just under a third of the cuvée aged in small french oak barrels it has a lovely dark fruit character, a touch of spice and a great finish.

Wayne has been on a different tack supping from the joys of Spain. Mas Blanche I Jove Sao Abrivat (£17.99) from a fantastic estate in Costers del Segre, inland from Barcelona. The wine is a blend of Tempranillo (40%) , Grenache (35%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) matured in a mixture of French and American oak barrels for around 12 months. The wine is soft with a lovely dark red fruit character and a melange of vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper spice notes before the long balanced finish.

We think both will be handy to have on hand should you be barbecuing or having a roast. The Spaniard particularly, should you be roasting some pork.

If anyone was planning to fund a trip to Mustique we’d happily volunteer as fact finders ahead of any “official” travel.

As usual we shall be CLOSED on BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY.

Chintz!

Wayne & Alex

Wine Leads, Football Follows

April 23rd, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, here’s a thing…

In 1955, 23 Provençal wine estates proclaimed themselves Crus Classés based on an evaluation of their history, winemaking/cellar reputation and overall vineyard quality.  This classification has never been revisited or modified, except for the fact that 5 of the original estates no longer make wine.  Then in the early noughties, to further elevate their status, 14 of the remaining estates created the Club des Crus Classés de Cotes de Provence with a view to promotion and protection.  Membership of this club is fixed ad vitam aeternam, no new estates can be added and they cannot lose the Cru Classé status. This means the owners of these estates will always benefit from their classification, no matter how good or bad their wines are!

Now, let’s go back to 100 years before this Provençal model. 

In order for visitors at the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris to better understand the Bordeaux wines on display, Napoleon demanded a classification system from the wine brokers.  The brokers ranked the wines according to an estate’s reputation and trading price, which was how they gauged quality back then.  Interestingly, in their assessment, the top 4 wines were: Château Lafite, Château Latour, Château Margaux and Haut-Brion…. I wonder whatever happened to any of them?

And now we leap to the present day, where 12 football clubs, following the Provençal model, attempted to create a breakaway Super League this week, membership of which was to be fixed ad vitam aeternam, no new clubs would be added and they couldn’t lose their membership. This would have meant that the owners of these clubs would always benefit from their classification, no matter how good or bad their teams are!

If you want to know what’s going to happen in football next, best look at what was going on in wine 100 years ago! (Ok, this statement possibly doesn’t deserve too much scrutiny but it was fun to write…)

As an aside, highly regarded fine wine database Liv-ex has, since 2009, produced a biennial re-evaluation of the global fine wine market, ‘based on the transactional activity of the world’s largest pool of fine wine merchants, it reflects the changing buying patterns of the trade’.  Their most recent edition (2019) has the following rankings for left bank Bordeaux, in value order: Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild – recognise anyone!

Elsewhere, outside the high-stakes worlds of wine and football, a real world is carrying about its daily business.

Another week, another MP, another text message.  It would seem that whilst Dyson-gate isn’t going to run far, there is still the question of access… should a billionaire re-pat ex-pat have our Prime Minister’s mobile phone number?  Not sure.

Everyone’s favourite app, TikTok is in trouble again for how it uses the data it collects from all the children that are addicted to it.  In a moment of no sh*#, Sherlock, sorry, profound clarity, the lady leading the legal challenge said that TikTok is ‘a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network’.  Whatever next, targeted ads on Facebook?  Doorbells that film you, owned by Amazon?    Sometimes the mind boggles.

Today is the feast day of St George, cheers all round for England’s Patron Saint.  In our quest to unearth interesting facts about him, we seem to have opened a bit of a can of worms.  According to English Heritage not only was George not English, he didn’t even visit England.  He wasn’t a knight either and he never fought a dragon.  He was, however, a Roman soldier who died as a martyr for his Christian faith and as a consequence, he is a Saint.  Phew.  Also in the middle ages, many believed that he was one of the ‘Fourteen Holy Helpers’ – a group of saints who could help during epidemic diseases.  Now, we’re not sure if membership of this group of helpers was fixed ad vitam aeternam, or whether new helpers could be added to this select group but we imagine it was probably run a little more inclusively than the world of Provencal wine…. anyway, St George’s protection was invoked against several nasty diseases, including the Plague and leprosy so his role today is as important as ever!

We also know, not through the English Heritage website but from the research undertaken by Theodore Logan & Bill S. Preston, that his favourite tipple was Piquepoul Rosé 2020, Coteaux D’Ensérune, France – £13.99 – which is the palest of pinks with a delicate nose of cherry blossom, strawberries and peaches and a palate that is bone dry and fresh, with summer berry flavours and notes of crushed rose petals. 

So, if you want to celebrate George properly today and this weekend then grab yourself a bottle or perhaps treat yourself to 6 bottles for £72 whilst the sun is still shining!

Finally, an acknowledgement of The Special One, Jose Mourinho, as he exits English football.  Forget the Premier League wins, the Europa League, the Champions League et al, what he will be most remembered for is being the first and only manager to be sacked in the ESL – a unique and historical achievement, chapeau – now go!

Pie and a Pint of Kingston Gate Lager!

April 16th, 2021

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!

Volvo Hiccups, Chardonnay and ‘Where’s the Southern Comfort?’

April 9th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What a week we’ve had. Sunshine, snow and rain have all featured, neither of us knows what to wear, should we open the door, put a sweater on, open a window and that’s before we’ve even considered what we should wear to the pub garden!

How strange is it going to be having a chat with a mate in real life without a zoom backdrop of the British Library and constantly cutting off one another’s words?

The Volvo had a hiccup but has a brand new shiny suspension bit and is making much less noise now. Back on the road again!

In a brief roundup of other stuff, Myanmar’s coup d’etat reached the streets of London this week when the Ambassador, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was locked out of the embassy.

In Italy, the government has finally done the right thing by Venice and issued a decree that the 700 ginormous cruise ships will no longer be able to enter the lagoon the way they have. They will now follow the canal like commercial ships and disembark their passengers at the far end of the lagoon. An important step in the preservation of Venice we think, let’s hope it holds!

There has been nightly petrol-bombing all week in Northern Ireland in sectarian violence of the like we’ve not seen in years. Why it’s taken 5 days to get to the newspapers we’ve no idea, but frankly it needs to stop, so if matron could drag some politicians by their ears and get them around the table to start talking, it might not be a bad idea.

In real sports, Mark Cavendish found himself on the podium again on Wednesday taking 3rd place at the Schelderprijs. Paris-Roubaix scheduled for the weekend is now postponed.

Saturday sees the Grand National at 5.15pm. The favourite seems to be Cloth Cap but will Tom Scudamore whippet across the line in front of Minella Times? Given that’s the mount of Rachel Blackmore who hogged the winners step at Cheltenham this year we’re not so sure. Wayne suggests a small each way on Discorama but his reasoning seems to be that it sounds like an ‘80’s nightclub plus he had a shocker at Cheltenham so do with that what you will. Alex has been talking about Speith but that might be in the golf!

We’ve had some new wine show up on the doorstep lately, along with the return of a few old favourites. On the new front, we’d mention Flametree Chardonnay 2019 (£18.99) one of Decanter’s Wines of the Year in their February issue and a real delight. We also have a new champagne, Andre Robert Les Jardins du Mesnil (£47) is a captivating Blanc de Blancs all from Grand Cru vineyards. Aged for five years on the lees it’s a stunning example of the style that you all know we both love. Whilst I’m shooting the breeze about bubbles I’d just mention that we have some Bolney Estate  Classic Cuvee (£28.99) chilling in the fridge.

On the old favourite’s front, we are freshly restocked with Collequieto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (£10.99) a cracking everyday drinker for those that haven’t tried it, dark berry fruits soft tannins and versatile on the food front.

Finally we’d like to raise a glass to Prince Philip using his words to the US Ambassador in 1999 “Where’s the Southern Comfort?”

Melagiu Diena!

April 1st, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Just a quickie this week and a day early, too – judging from sales this week, I can see how eager you all are to get out into those gardens and pop some corks, so I shan’t dally!

First up, opening hours.

This bank holiday weekend is a funny one, usually it’s just me and the man from Dalchini playing dominoes in the middle of the street as you all evacuate to bonnier climes far, far away.  This year however, is different and as a consequence of you all staying around, domino tournaments are suspended until May.  In the meantime, I thought I’d let you know when we’ll be open:

Today, Thursday 1st April – now until 7pm

Friday 2nd April – 12pm – 3pm – a short day just in case you need a bottle for lunchtime

Saturday 3rd April – 12pm – 6pm – plenty of time to stock up before we close for 2 days

Sunday 4th April/Monday 5th April – CLOSED

Tuesday 6th April – Back to ‘normal’…

Just as a memo to all this, I shan’t be able to make any deliveries on Friday due to the fact that the Volvo is a bit poorly and also Wayne is going to be busy at home with his latest side project.

After an umpteen of years talking about it he has finally got round to making his own wine, a red wine made exclusively from white grapes.  Key to the blend are Muskat Alarff, Tsallalie and the Lithuanian grape Melagiu Diena.  How he has managed to get the white wine grapes to produce red wine is a mystery to me but I imagine it must have to do with the prevalence of cochineal bugs, imported from Mexico to his vineyard in Balham that are accidentally crushed in the picking process (see, it’s really nigh on impossible to get a 100% vegan wine!).  Anyway, a red wine from white grapes named Red Wayne 20/20 – perfect for the Italian seasonal speciality Pesce d’Aprile…

Gibberish.

Anyway, I said this would be short and sweet, so let’s make it so.  Let’s also make it an email that doesn’t contain serious reference to Covid, bike racing, cricket or rugby, politics or European vaccine policy…

And with that, I’m gone – have a wonderful Easter break and let’s all hope it doesn’t snow on your garden parties!

Spring Loopholes and Rose

March 26th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, it’s been a busy week since the Stanley Johnson Loophole was revealed… 

Wayne has organised to go and look at a yacht in Cap d’Antibes (with a view to ‘buying’) and also a villa in Mallorca (again, with a view to ‘buying’) whilst Alex has elected to pop down and paint his mum’s old flat in Andalucia.  We can do such things for a couple of weeks because, you know, it’s not  a £5,000 fine-worthy ‘holiday’ we’re taking but actually a necessary trip to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.  If either of us should happen to accidentally end up in a bar or a restaurant or on a sunbed by a pool then that is entirely circumstantial and should not be considered to be ‘holidaying’.

Glad we made that clear, I’m sure the loophole won’t get abused.

In the world of health, a world that we have all become a little bit too invested in over the last 12 months, an unlikely hero was made of the common cold this week.  The presence of rhinovirus, as the common cold is commonly known to his friends, apparently blocks SARS-CoV-2 from replicating in the respiratory tract.  So, effectively, in the viral version of rock, paper, scissors the Rhino beats the Crown every time.  This could only be improved by the evolution of a benign-to-humans saltwatercrocodilevirus that would frankly wipe the floor with all comers…

In the world of weather, a world that we English have always been too overly invested in, today will be peppered with heavy rain and moderate breezes.  I mention this purely because we would like to take full responsibility for any inclement weather that occurs in the next few days.  We take this responsibility based on the fact that Wednesday morning saw the arrival of our first big tranche of rosé – a handsome half pallet of Les Vignobles de Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020 is now resident in the shop and the cellar, awaiting the arrival of the rule of six, sunny outdoor drinking and sensible socialising that we should all be able to start next week.  We’re ready for this, are you?

Les Vignobles de Foncalieu Piquepoul Rose 2020

£13.99/bottle – 6 bottles for £72

In the world of passports, a world that we haven’t invested any time in over the last 12 months, the talk of the town is Boris’s ‘paper for a pint’ proposal.  ‘Let the landlord decide whether to serve you’ the blonde buffoon bellowed and we all thought to ourselves, well hasn’t that always been the case?  The hospitality industry has been on the naughty step for much of this pandemic and now BJ wants to put further controls on who they do or don’t serve by suggesting the introduction of a vaccine passport. 

Really?  A couple of points, if I may, Prime Minister. 

You’ve spent the last year stymying the on-trade and preventing them from making a living, they’re going to serve whoever they want to serve without your say-so and as many people as possible, as often as possible.  Oh, and have you heard, Boris, that the vaccine roll out is effectively suspended for anyone under 50 until at least May but that the pubs should be able to start serving people again on April 12th.  So anyone over 50 can get a pint but all those under 50 can wait in turn – let’s see how the twenty and thirty year olds react to that, shall we?  Let’s not make this into a ‘them and us’ situation, there’s already enough of that with the rampant cronyism of the coronavirus contracts…

And breathe.

Moving on, as it’s time to move on and talk about time.  This time last year we had our doors shut, we were taking email orders and driving round deserted streets delivering delicious drinks.  Oh, and one of us was about to get covid but didn’t know it yet.  It was also the last Friday in March and Wayne reminded us that on Sunday the clocks spring forward an hour, or, hopefully they spring forward 2 months!  How little we knew but time marches on and British Summer Time starts on Sunday, time to enjoy the brighter evenings.

And now I’ll leave you with another paragraph that he wrote that first week of lockdown, which I think still has a resonance:

Of course, I’m fully aware this is not a time to be flippant and I don’t mean to be so.  However, we don’t need to be sad all the time either, that’s really not healthy.  Play the cards you’re dealt whilst you can.  Don’t be silly, stay inside, engage with your family, phone the friends you haven’t spoken to for too long, eat sensibly, get good sleep, read a book, listen to music you wouldn’t usually listen to, stay off social media for a day, then another day, hoover the stairs, grow a mullet, learn how to do a hand stand, practice your putting, learn to speak Arapaho, take stock, make stock, stay busy….

Raise a glass to yourselves this weekend and also, of course, to absent friends…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

March 19th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We suspect that when she accepted the part in the Government production of the Wizard of Oz, Priti was hoping for a shiny pair of red shoes. Sadly for her, the more of the script she reads out at the despatch box the more she realises she is playing the part of The Tin Man. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive role to win given how many candidates could’ve been at the audition! The role of Scarecrow was already cast and there is certainly some confusion as to how he’s in charge of the Emerald City at the beginning of this production rather than the traditional end. We think the producer has Matt Hancock down as Dorothy, he looks like a rabbit in headlights at the lectern and we think inside he’s just wishing he was home. Has anyone seen his shoes? That probably puts Kier Starmer in the role of Lion doesn’t it?

So, not content with giving assaulters of statues potentially a larger sentence than assaulters of women, the Home Office has come up with another ridiculous idea. Following the trashing of their plan to send asylum seekers to empty oil rigs, they have now decided to process the said asylum seekers on an island. At the moment that island is unnamed but Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have ruled themselves out and we’ve tried to contact the Mayor of Canvey but to no avail.

We thought perhaps it could be a reward to the people of the Isle of Wight for their outstanding development work on the Test and Trace App, until we remembered we were stopping overseas development schemes. Last year’s idea of Ascension Island still seems a bit far-fetched, I mean who’s going to pay for the 4000 mile flight? Turkey is another idea they are floating and Priti definitely went to the same people management classes as Erdogan. I would ask you this, as we come out of lockdown with rising unemployment, what sense does it make to offshore jobs? Not to mention the cost of the flights or the contradiction with the Governments declaration of a climate emergency. Perhaps Turkey has been mentioned in a deterrent capacity, but how can we be sure that asylum seekers have even seen Midnight Express? I tell you wine lovers, it’s a mess!

Meanwhile in a firm show of commitment to “Levelling Up” the BBC has pledged to move 400 jobs out of London. Not all of the details are available but it appears Salford will benefit rather than Turkey, and there’s a good chance of a BBC version Coronation Street without adverts! Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham all look to benefit too as the Beeb starts to host more shows outside of London. News that more of the Proms concerts will be hosted outside of London has us puzzled as we thought there was but one Albert Hall. That said, we look forward to the Wizard of Oz going on tour, and understand the Scarecrow already has personal appearance booked in Hartlepool. 

In European news, there has been a lot of hot air about vaccinations, the lack there of and the rights of the EU to impose tariffs till their fridges are full. However, we know that all you’re really interested in is the Milan-San Remo bicycle race on Saturday. This 299km race is the first of the season’s Monuments and only two Brits have won it, Tom Simpson in 1964, and Mark Cavendish in 2009. Cav described it as “the easiest race to finish, but the hardest to win”. This year, the bookies favourite is Mathieu van der Poel and his form thus far makes it difficult to argue, but I do have a nagging feeling about Julien Alaphillipe who out-sprinted both him and Wout van Aert on a stage at Tirenno-Adriatico last week.

Congratulations to Team New Zealand for successfully retaining Auld Mug in the America’s Cup. I don’t know about you but the idea of hanging over the side of one of these 100kmh yachts on skis terrifies me.

Closer to home the Six Nations draws to a close on Saturday too with games at 14.15, 16.45 and 20.00 – looks like I might struggle to fit the cycling in!

Whilst I’m here, I’d like to mention a new beer we listed recently, SlyBeast Lager (£2.80). The Slybeast microbrewery is the brainchild of Lee and Keris from the Pig & Whistle and is based just down the road in Wandsworth, continuing a tradition that has lasted on the site since 1533. The malty and citrus notes make it the perfect tipple for coping with the excitement of back to back Six Nations.

A local beer brewed by South Africans, now that is something I think we can all embrace.

That’ll be enough from us this week, we’re nearly there so wear a mask, have a jab, wash your hands and drink some wine.

Cheers!

Mother’s Day

March 12th, 2021

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As he sat on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport one evening, he knew what was expected of him.  His new employers had committed a huge sum over the next few years – for the benefits of his services. 

But it wasn’t just his skills that made him such a valuable commodity. He and his wife were among the world’s most recognisable faces.

Back home in the UK, they were by far the country’s biggest celebrities.  The Daily Mirror proclaimed that he was on a “one-man mission” to be a “success in a country where others had failed”.  

So expectations were high.  

And, as the couple emerged from the plane at Los Angeles airport, they were swamped by photographers and news crews in a scene more in keeping with red-carpet showbusiness than the arrival of a ….

What do you think, pretty good opening lines?

When Jilly Cooper said she was happy to ghost write his memoirs, Harry couldn’t resist such a tantalising offer.  With an oeuvre containing cleverly named masterpieces including  Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata, Pandora, Wicked!, Jump! and, of course,  Mount!, Jilly’s texts had become must reads for any Etonian growing up south of Tetbury and the thrill of adding Harry! to this list felt AT LAST like an acknowledgement of his success…. funny that he didn’t mention it to Oprah!

Actually, this is an edited excerpt from David and Victoria Beckham: Was America won over?  By Jon Kelly, BBC News Magazine, Washington DC, on 2nd December 2012.  You’ve got to say, there are similarities, a young couple trying to ‘break America’ and achieve similar levels of fame that they have this side of the pond,  although I don’t imagine Harry & Meghan sat on gold thrones on their wedding day!

And people, that’s all we will ever have to say in relation to the Oprah interview.

This Sunday we celebrate the fourth Sunday in Lent or Mothering Sunday as we more commonly know it.   A celebration of the church where you were baptised, including a visit ideally, but also, thanks to the efforts of Anna Maria Jarvis in the early 20th century, a celebration of all Mother’s. 

Anna Maria lived to hate her successful commemoration to Mother’s and as it became more and more commercialised she even tried to have it cancelled.  In 1948 she died disenchanted in a sanatorium, with all her medical bills having been paid for by people from the floral and greeting card industries!

So, with that in mind, anyone want to buy some wine for their Mum?!

As it’s a celebration it really ought to be bubbles we reckon, so why don’t I give you a quick list of Champagne that we have in stock:

Non Vintage

Lété-Vautrain Brut 204 – £30.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut – £36.99

Tarlant Brut Nature – £45.00

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV – £48.00

Rosé

Delavenne Père et Fils Grand Cru Brut – £45.00

Vintage

Lété-Vautrain Grand Millesime 2012 – £35.00

Collet Brut 2008 – £50.00

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale 2008 – £70.00

Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 – £112.00

Billecart Salmon Cuvée Nicolas-Francois 2002 – £150.00    

Or you could buy her some nice soap….

That really rounds off our week, no mention of sport, largely because it’s just too painful to talk about.  Saying that, we welcome the return of one of 2020’s finest super-spreader events next week as the Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday – no tips from us this year which is frankly good news for all of you given our previous form but do be on the lookout for Guinness on discount as there must be an oversupply somewhere, given the amount that is usually consumed… there you go, that’s our sort of tip!

And we leave you with a reminder that, for now, Piers Morgan is not on morning telly – happy days!