Are we just living inside someone’s lunatic dreamscape?

September 27th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

To borrow from Mrs Merton:

So what first attracted you to ninth in line to the throne, Princess Beatrice?

Or perhaps:

So what first attracted you to the Italian property tycoon, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi?

And then the answer arrives:

We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness – like skiing and holidays on yachts and working not very hard or too often… let’s see who ends up paying for the wedding shall we?

In truth though, I shouldn’t be belittling this romance because it’s actually one of the few pieces of happy news this week. 

Politics, on both sides of the pond, is in absolute mayhem and as a consequence has a somewhat surreal aspect to it – can this all really be happening or are we just living inside someone’s lunatic dreamscape?  Watching the mudslinging in parliament on Wednesday, frustration and vexation were in abundance.  What was also in abundance was mobile phone usage – whoever was sat behind the Attorney General when he was in full barrister-flood on Wednesday spent most of her time on her phone.  Now, I don’t know that she wasn’t scrolling through important government documents nor that the colleague next to her was watching House of Cards on her tablet but I do know when discretion is called for – a well-placed sheaf of papers blocking the phone from the television cameras would perhaps have been the guidance.  Moreover, it was distracting – never did we see her face, no matter how attentively we viewed, so we still don’t know who it was!

Thomas Cook finally curled up its toes this week, to much gnashing and wailing and reports of skulduggery in hotels in foreign resorts.  What we have learnt from this is that whilst we pay up front for the accommodation the travel company doesn’t actually pay the hotel until well after you have stayed there so, effectively, when you are actually in the resort, you are living on credit which is fine, unless your tour operator goes bust.  By all accounts there are towns in Spain that dealt almost exclusively with TC and will now face an uphill struggle to survive.  The real injustice here is that the writing has been on the wall for Thomas Cook for so long now but still they were allowed to make promises that they stood so little chance of being able to fulfil – which then leads to the question, as always, where has all the money gone???

It has been confirmed that Wayne did not travel on a package holiday so will not be spending an extra week in Greece, awaiting repatriation – we expect to see you on Monday, spick and span.

So with such headlines, apart from the royal engagement, where are we looking for our happiness this week?  Well, I suppose if you’re an Arsenal fan you can wallow in Tottenham’s spectacularly poor start to the season in all competitions.  If you’re not a cricket fan then you can relish the fact that the cricket season has finally finished and if you’re a rain fan you will have been very happy with the way the week has shaped up.

But now we can look forward because it’s the weekend and, for some of us, it’s payday, hooray!  Not wanting to spend your money for you but, you know, it is Friday and thus it should really be fizz tonight and with that in mind, I might mention that we’ve listed a couple of new English sparklers from Hawkins Bros. 

These have been brought in to replace the Herbert Hall primarily, who was just becoming too expensive for what he was putting in the bottle, which is ironic really considering the most common bugbear people have with English sparkling wine is the cost – but hey, let’s not listen to the punters, let’s just whack another tenner on a bottle and hope Brexit makes us the only choice?  Nice one Herbie, on your bike now!

Anyway, back to the brothers Hawkins, who are English wine producers based just south of Guildford, growing and making wine on the south-facing chalk of the Hogs Back.

Brut Reserve 2014 – £30

Dosage: 6g/l – Alcohol: 12%

Gold medal winner at the IEWA 2019 and Bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018

A classic cuvée from 2014, made and grown on the Hogs Back in Surrey.  This is a blend of 56% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier and has spent over three years ageing on its lees.

Baked apple on the nose, a soft mousse gives way to a palate of wonderful depth and complexity with a long citrusy finish.

Rosé Reserve NV – £29

Dosage: 4.5g/l – Alcohol: 12%

Bronze Medal International Wine Challenge 2019

Made in the Traditional Method from 95% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier.

A supremely elegant rosé with a subtle flavour of summer berries, a delicate pink hue, notes of strawberry, and fresh brioche from 30 months pre-release ageing.

Sound exciting, don’t they?  I took a bottle of the pink home last weekend on the false/fools assumption that, as my wife has always been a bit suspicious of wine that’s not either white or red, much of the bottle would be mine.  However, in a text book horse switcheroo mid-river, of which only she is capable, my beloved declared that it wasn’t that she didn’t like pink it was just that she hadn’t had a good one yet.  As she poured the last drops into her tankard, I could only surmise that this was a ‘good’ one!

Further to my missive from a week back, we still have places on some of our upcoming tastings, just a few less.  If you fancy an evening in the company of cheese and wine, or perhaps a winemaker’s wife, all for a mere £20 per person, here are the dates once more:

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 10th October – 5 spaces left

Domaine Treloar Tasting – 17th October – 2 spaces left

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 7th November – 6 spaces left

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 28th November – 5 spaces left

Tasting this weekend

As mentioned, it’s the last weekend of September and frankly we should be looking forward to hearty reds not delicate Rosés and shorts should returned to use for sporting purposes only, just so you know!  Last weekend we opened the World Cup Rugby with a head to head between Meerlust Red from South Africa and Alpha Domus ‘The Pilot’ from New Zealand.  Intriguingly the Meerlust was a clear favourite on the Friday evening and, for the first twenty minutes of the game on Saturday we thought our wine predictor might be onto something.  By the end of play on Saturday  though we had sold four times as many of the Pilot than the Meerlust – after a slow start it came back very strong, appropriate given the scoreline!

This weekend there are no obvious vinous clashes – I mean Uruguay v Georgia would be an interesting tasting and Ireland v Japan could lead to a whisk(e)y  fuelled late night but no, I’m not going there.

This week it’s purely about what I fancy tasting whilst the guv’nor is still sunbaking:

From the part of Italy that is almost Slovenia, we have Vigneti Le Monde Friulano 2017 – £15.99

Established in 1970 and recognised as a “cru” within Friuli, it is only under the current owners that the estate has really taken off.  This wine is made from 100% Friulano, with aromas of fresh flowers, citrus, lemon and green apple.  The palate is crisp and dry with again notes of apple, peach and pear with a subtle floral note. Good weight, perfectly balanced by a fresh clean finish – a delicious wine that often falls below the radar of many Italian white fans!

And from the Minervois in France, we’ve got open Chateau de Paraza ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ 2016 – £13.99 which is a Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre blend that give us a deep red garnet coloured wine with cherry and raspberry compote notes, red liquorice string in the background and a lovely juicy acidity.  A great all-rounder of a wine with red flowers and mineral notes entwining themselves with the fruit into a great finish  – if you enjoy the Rhône, you’ll enjoy this!

So pop by and have a taste, tell us some happy tales from your week and we’ll all be the better for it!

That’s it Sun, you’re done.

September 20th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, a quiet week, thus far, in the world of 126 Arthur Road. 

Apart from two Amazon deliveries for the people upstairs and a visit to the Coop for a spot of quality lunch, Monday flew past in a mêlée of paperwork and tumbleweed.  The great and the good of Wimbledon Park, which is you by the way, had clearly decided that tennis, the gym, running club or boot camp were far more appealing than a drop of wine and chat with a local entrepreneur, which is me by the way.  Such was my concern that, at 7pm, I had to call my wife to check for proof of life, concerned that I’d missed some sort of apocalypse and was now destined to be stuck alone for eternity on Arthur Road.  However, the very act of her answering the phone confirmed my worst suspicions – I hadn’t missed Armageddon, it was just Monday and my  utopian future of life surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine and steaks liberated from the ‘closed on Monday’s’ Casa Argentina, disappeared into the sunset.

And then Tuesday rocked up, filled with promise and sunshine and news that a tiny white cloud had been spotted over the Greek islands and all was good with the world.  Oh, and I sold some wine, if anyone happens to ask.  Wednesday was early closing at 1pm, as I always like to do when Wayne is away, traditional market day closing don’t you know, and a visit to a local hostelry to watch a north London football team throw away a 2-nil lead to cling onto a draw, not for the first time this season.

With Wednesday out of the way, Thursday came next and with it a phone call from the car insurance people.  For those who haven’t yet encountered the Park Vintners delivery mechanism, we have a 1995 Volvo estate that has a boot as big as a billiard table and a 2.5 litre engine – it’s a beast and we love it.  It would seem though that not everyone shares this love.  10 days ago, parked outside Wayne’s house for just one night, it underwent some fairly major surgery as some local charmer decided to slash all four of its tyres and destroy all three the windscreen wipers.  Genuinely didn’t know people did this sort of thing still but apparently they do and aggressively vandalising a stranger’s car is ok.  We reported it to the police who, I am pleased to say, have already closed the case due to lack of evidence but at least we got a crime number.

So anyway, the phone call from the insurance company.  Basically, the car is so old, none of What Car?/Parkers/Autotrader were able to give it a valuation, so they were going to write it off.

‘How much is the work going to cost’, I asked. 

‘£1800’, came the flat reply.

‘You’re having a giraffe’, I said, ‘four tyres and some windscreen wipers for the best part of two grand – I’m in the wrong job!’

‘Oh, is that all you want done?’ was the response, ‘we thought we were going to do all the paintwork too?’

At which point I laughed.  It’s almost 25 years old and lives on a London street, don’t fret about the paintwork was my instruction to them and, it would seem, the bill has gone down hugely and is no longer a write off.  A perfectly decent, reliable and useful car was about to be written off due to its paintwork – sometimes I wonder about the world of insurance!

And now we have reached Friday, time for the weekend to start up, the suns out again, it’s all good.

Away from my travails in Arthur Road, there has been a world going about its business without me.  Two iconic sporting figures were in the press this week, for reasons out of their control.  Whilst Gareth Thomas hasn’t named The Sun, they, or their like, were undoubtedly behind the blackmail that led to his HIV announcement.  Equally, we know for absolute sure that they were responsible for the Ben Stokes story this week.  It would be really nice to see the headline ‘That’s it Sun, you’re done’ and the end of this sort of sordid car crash/ambulance chase journalism, which actually isn’t journalism at all, but sadly I think this tabloid would survive the apocalypse, like a cockroach.

We don’t talk about smoking much, partly because it mucks up your palate, partly because we both haven’t smoked for years but mainly because it’s not terribly interesting.  What we both have agreed on since day one, both being Marlboro purists, is that vaping is just weird.  Either smoke or don’t smoke – don’t suck on a Bic biro/mini walkie-talkie hybrid filled with strawberry flavoured liquid, it’s just weird.  Anyway, there have been a few deaths recently in the US that have been attributed to vaping but perhaps not enough to create a serious dent in the vape popularity.  However, what will put a dent in their sales is the news that India’s cabinet has announced a ban on the production, import and sale of electronic cigarettes, saying they pose a risk to health.  That’s a complete ban in India; India, with a smoking population of 100 million people that would be an absolute goldmine for the e-smoking industry but clearly the medical experts see clear risks and have acted.  Very interesting indeed – no smoke without fire, as my colleague might say.

Having just about closed off the cricket season and the cycling Grand Tour season also coming to a conclusion for this year (anyone notice that Wayne’s tip, Primož Roglič, only went and won La Vuelta – chapeaux), we can now concentrate wholly on the Rugby World Cup.  We touched on this last week with mention of Japan as an outside bet for the finals however for many people, and by many people I’m meaning the bookmakers primarily, the winners of the World Cup will come from one of New Zealand and South Africa.  Odds on the AB’s are 5/4 whilst odds on the Boks  are 4/1.  For transparency , England also are at 4/1 but I feel that has something to do with punters patriotism.

No-one knows how the rugby will go this weekend, who will win, who will lose but in our own version of Paul the Octopus we’re going to use wine as our tipster and as a consequence will actually be opening 3 wines – don’t tell Wayne.

In white, of course, we’ll have England and an English wine. 

New Hall Vineyards Bacchus Reserve 2018 – £14.49.  The vineyards of New Hall are located just outside of Purleigh and are home to some of the oldest plantings of Bacchus in the UK, certainly the largest (44,500 vines) and they provide grapes to a couple of well-known English Wineries that, frankly, are not very close to Essex.  The wine has a vinous, limey nose that leads you into a fruit focused medium dry palate with a reassuring zing on the finish.

In the absence of any wine from Tonga, I’m going to boldly pronounce this a walkover and move on to the main event, New Zealand v South Africa.

In the interest of fairness I have picked similar wines at a similar price to go head to head from these two countries, so let’s see how they get on.

From South Africa we’ll have Meerlust Red 2014 – £14.49 which hails from Stellenbosch and is a classic Bordeaux style blend of 52% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot.  Aromas of cassis and plums drag you into an immediately appealing, medium-bodied red with crushed black fruit, a touch of vanilla spice and some nicely structured tannins.  We note that this would be a great partner to a rack of lamb and with that in mind, we move to the Kiwi offering.

Alpha Domus ‘The Pilot’ 2014 – £13.99.  Similar in price, from the same vintage as the Meerlust, basically exactly what we were after for a head to head, a typical Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend with nice plummy fruit, a touch of fragrant spice, a lovely mouthfeel and a nice long finish.

Damn, this one is going to go right down to the wire.

That’s about it from us for this week save for a quick tastings update:

Wine School starts in 10 days’ time – 2nd October – 2 spaces left.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 10th October – 6 spaces left.

Domaine Treloar Tasting – 17th October – 3 spaces left.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 7th November – 6 spaces left.

Wine & Cheese Tasting – 28th November – 5 spaces left.

So, pop in and assess the wine offerings, sign up for a tasting our two, watch a bit of rugby, enjoy the sunshine, ignore the threat of thunderstorms and generally have a bon weekend!

Mate ne, as they say in the bars of Tokyo!

Sitting on the truth/lie fence

September 13th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

As a knock on effect of the Queen’s decision to prorogue, the Friday email will be suspended for the next 5 weeks – there will be no debate on this and Wayne has already left for Europe.

Actually no.  That was a lie.  Or was it?  I’m not really sure what lying is now as the media seem to have a variety of definitions depending on political bent, the Scottish judges another definition, definitely not political, and your man Boris, well he has spent most of his career and personal life on the truth/lie fence.  So I will take the advice Wayne left in his note for me before he left with his one way ticket to Greece and what looked like the contents of the safe – trust nobody, Alex….

Anyway, in a fit of preparedness I am one of the people who has actually read the Yellowhammer document and, greatly enlivened by that experience and in a boxset frame of mind, went on to read about Operation Brock (currently suspended) and am awaiting my clearance to read Operation Redfold. Having read the synopsis and seen the trailer, I do hope we avoid Redfold.  Suffice to say, I am now an expert on base scenarios and remain unsurprised by the warnings that Yellowhammer contained since they are all topics that have been well discussed over time – slow border crossings, the new east Kent lorry park, delays, delays, delays – in truth, things that we are all very accustomed to dealing with!

But we’ve not left yet, the sun is shining and promises to do so over the weekend and the cricket no longer matters.  We ventured up to the Oval on Tuesday for a wine tasting and the pitch looked in tip top condition and frankly would have been amazing as a grand finale but the cricket no longer matters.  If we hadn’t concentrated on the World Cup, if Anderson hadn’t got injured, if Smith had stayed injured, if we’d been able to build unbeatable totals but no, Alex, the cricket no longer matters.

Because what matters now is the Rugby.  Thus time next week the first game (Japan v Russia I believe) of the 2019 World Cup will be coming to a conclusion and the fun will have begun.  Saturday will bring big victories for Fiji, Argentina and, for the first time ever, an incredible 0-0 tie in the last game of the day that sees both teams removed from the tournament…

Looking back, in 2011 we tipped France as potential finalists, in 2015 we thought England would beat Wales so frankly we are not really rugby tipsters.  New Zealand maybe?  There you go, that’s sunk their ship… and left it wide open for the surprise package of 2015 and the hospitable hosts – Japan, 80-1 to reach the final!

Before we get there though we must finish this week first and that always coincides with us opening a couple of bottles of wine.  As a gentlemanly salute to the Aussies, we’ll be opening some of their fine wines today.

In the cricket whites we find Flametree Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 – £16.99, a cracking drop made by our chum Cliff Royle, we’ve not discussed cricket with Cliff, but do know that he makes awesome wines –  this blend of 80% Sauvignon and 20% Semillon has cracking lychee, lime and stone fruit character and a real elegance to it.

And in the red lifeguard shorts Flametree Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2017 – £19.99, the first vintage in 2007 won the Jimmy Watson Trophy, and frankly the winery hasn’t looked back since! This is classically aromatic, showing cassis, violets and blackberry, balanced with notes of freshly dusted cocoa and dark chocolate; fresh in the mouth and, packed with dark fruits, bitter chocolate and subtle spicy French oak characters. Rumour has it there might be some barbecueing at the weekend. Brisket or burgers would be awesome!

Park Vintners Autumn Wine School is surreptitiously creeping up on us. Just about 3 weeks to go and there are a couple of places left if you fancy joining in the fun and improving your wine smarts!

6 Week Wine School – Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person

And with that we’re gone!


Back in the Game

September 6th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Finally they’ve gone back and that almost endless break is over. The seemingly continual fight over whose turn it was on the lilo, whose fault it was that the beach ball blew away and the almost magical way an ice-cream slides off the cone and onto your t-shirt  is but a memory.  Life can get back to normal with Mum and Dad cabs in action most weekends.

In the playground there has been a renewal of acquaintances, some teams have new captains but the game and its goals remain the same. The blue shirted team have a new Captain in Boris, who has been marching round the playground trying to get everyone to join in his game of British Bulldog whilst the previous Captain, Theresa, has been spotted giggling in the background. Several of his team including Stephen, Nicolas and Clarkey aren’t allowed to play any longer, so they have started a book club in the history room that already has 21 members.  His brother Jo is another non-player and has decided to leave school altogether.

The orange team have a new Captain too, confusingly also Jo, who seems to be rather good at recruiting people from other teams. The oranges are currently playing petanque over in the square and, although other games have not been ruled out, they’re not at all keen on Boris’s game of British Bulldog.

Despite many rumblings, the red team have stayed with their Captain Jeremy. He’s been keen the last few terms to ask all the kids what game they should play, but now Boris has said Bulldog will be much more fun if everyone does join in, he doesn’t seem so keen to do the canvassing. It seems the reds are just hanging around by the fence waiting for something else to happen.

The short, shouty chap from the other school is still keen for everyone to join his game of British Bulldog in the park, but so far everyone is keeping him at arm’s length.

Sajid has been made tuck shop monitor and is giving Haribo out everywhere, especially to friends of the oranges and reds and we think he might be trying to bribe them into playing British Bulldog with Boris and the rough boys. Never take sweeties from strangers kids!

Anyway enough talk about children, there is sport to discuss.  In the cricket The Ashes contest is well into the fourth test with Steve Smith still proving to be a thorn in the side of the England team at Old Trafford, not often I hope for rain but this is one occasion.

On the football front we have an international break for the European Qualifiers, but AFC will be in action away in Milton Keynes for the grudge match.

On the cycling front La Vuelta is living up to its slightly crazy race reputation. Helicopters covering the race have uncovered a rooftop marijuana plantation, the gravel section inserted for extra spectacle was lost to TV coverage because of a rain storm, and following Quintana winning a stage,  Roglic rode into the red jersey on the individual time trial.

Lastly, good luck to all the runners on the Bacchus Marathon at Denbies this Sunday. Sadly this year there will be no Park Vintners representative, but we know that everyone running will have a good time and the weather looks perfect.

Wine School  

We’ve just a couple of spaces now, so if you’re thinking about joining the fun do give us a shout.

Six Week Wine School –

Wednesday 2nd October – Wednesday 13th November (half term 23rd October) – £150 per person


Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –


Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING  SOLD OUT

Tasting This Weekend

The Argentinians seem to have had a tough week or two at the office so we thought we’d taste some of their wines.

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2016, Mendoza, Argentina – £14.99

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.

Los Pueblos Classic Blend 2017, Mendoza, Argentina – £11.99

This is from Don Cristobel’s Finca Santa Maria, located at 935m altitude in Ugarteche, Luján de Cuyo. A cracking blend of 50% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, this wine offers a fresh,  medium bodied loveliness with red and dark fruits and a soft juicy finish.

When I looked up my most recent tasting note it said “YES REMEMBER THIS!! WE MEANT TO ORDER” So now we have…

That’s us for this week, swing by for a taster, and take the opportunity to stock up the wine rack!

Rosé is more than a colour…

August 30th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Another week shudders to a halt and with it the 8th month of the year.  Schools started going back yesterday, legs and feet that had been wearing shorts and flip flops all summer were cruelly coaxed into long trousers and new shoes whilst in some quarters the dawning realisation that the blazer was still at the dry cleaners made for some choice words in the early morning pandemonium…. 

And so, excepting a week long hiatus in late October, that’s them back on the treadmill until Friday 21st December – I know, how good is that, pretty much the rest of the year with them under someone else’s feet.  Earnt it though, haven’t we!?  Some households we know, who haven’t yet restarted, are now on day 57 of the holidays.  To put  that into perspective, how about we consider that for the summer term there were only 46 days of school for the children in question – now that’s a work/life balance we could all enjoy!

The bank holiday delivered everything it promised to, arguably to excess.  Sunshine galore, record Rosé sales, random traffic jams and everyone pretended to be really pleased to be back at work on Tuesday.  Whilst Wayne was dancing his dance in Notting Hill on Sunday, Ben Stokes was dancing down the wicket somehow salvaging the 3rd test and the series, for now at least.  Last week we wrote: Cricket continues to delight and despair us – and also scare us just a little bit too…..  Still, as we all know by now, anything can happen in Test cricket.  And it did – even the non-cricket fans amongst us were glued to their seats, whooping with the rest of us – quite glad it’s a rest week this week!  On the bike, we also suggested that Rigoberto Uran might be a potential winner of La Vuelta but, sadly, after yesterday’s horror crash, that will have to be another year.

And then our hearts lifted yesterday when we read this obviously misleading headline – New study has found that red wine could prevent obesity and lower cholesterol – but we were willing to be knowingly misled particularly if it meant more red wine.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t mean more red wine. 

To cut the article down to a bite size morsel, researchers at King’s College have found that red wine is healthier for your gut than white wine, beer or spirits.  It’s all to do with the polyphenols in the grape skins we’re told and the positive effect these can have on gut health.  The obesity claim only really appeared in the headline; the only other real reference to it in the text was the fact that a 250ml glass of wine contains 228 calories, equivalent to a slice of cake but we’ll move on from that shall we.  Anyway, apparently you only need to drink a glass of red once a fortnight for it to have a positive effect, so no, it didn’t mean more red wine and in fact a much more efficient route to gut health would be just to eat enough fruit….

In our communal, caring and sharing world that is our select readership, we often receive an email from one of you recommending an article that they think is of interest and suggest we put it in our Friday missisve.  It is no doubt a testament to our poorly executed weekly roundup that rarely are these articles wine related and the one we were pointed towards yesterday certainly wasn’t, however it did make us smile. 

It’s a story from the end of July relating to Proctor & Gamble’s $8 billion write-down on Gillette – and it’s all down to the hipsters!   Apparently there is a shrinking market for blades and razors as relaxed social norms in developed markets means consumers shave less frequently – in the past 5 years, according to Euromonitor, the U.S. men’s market for shaving products has shrunk by over 11%, whilst net sales in the grooming business have declined in 11 out of the last 12 quarters.  Who knew that Rag’n’Bone Man and Bradley Wiggins would bring down the brand who claimed to be the best a man can get?

In other news, we read an unfortunate tale but also a salutary reminder of the danger of unattended champagne bottles.  Theo Campbell, a gentleman who once appeared on every teenager’s favourite programme, Love Island, lost his eye recently when a champagne cork flew into it at full throttle.  This is actually far from a rare occurrence, there’s a very good reason why there’s a cage holding the cork in place since the pressure inside the bottle is roughly 90 psi, two or three times that of the tires on your car and the end of the cork is the same size as your eye socket…  I know, ouch.  So when you’re popping your corks for fizz Friday, pop a cork for Theo and use a towel!

Speaking of Friday drinks, we’ll have a some bottles open tonight and tomorrow as usual for your, and indeed our, delectation.  We reckon it could be a warm one again so have erred on the side of sunshine drinking…

First up we’ll be opening the fizzy pink sensation that is Domaine du Landrau Cremant de Loire Rosé NV – £15.99.  As we all know, but I’ll remind you, this is a blend of Grolleau and Cabernet Franc.  Delicious, with a fine mousse, crisp fresh raspberry tinged fruit and a lovely mouthfeel, this is a perfect aperitif and awesome with an indulgent pile of smoked salmon!

In white we will open Le Véritable 2017 – £10.99.  Nestling between Pau and Biarritz, in the southwest of France, we find this gem made from Gros Manseng, a local grape variety which loves the climate here in the Pyrenean foothills.  Intense in the aroma department, with pear blossom, a touch of straw and ripe apple; the palate is crisp and fresh, with apple and pear fruit again and the slightest hint of apricot.  A truly delicious apéritif white.

And the red, well this will also be from France this week – Domaine Fournillon Pinot Noir 2016 – £14.99.  The hill of Epineuil is near Chablis, opposite Tonnerre, with soils the same Kimmeridgean and limestone mixture.  The fruit aromas are cherry, strawberry and liquorice focused and are followed by a lovely fruit-driven fresh palate with fine tannins and a nice freshness of finish.  We think it offers great value, if you can use that word in a Burgundian context!  Alex wrote a tasting note of… ‘soft, nice fruit, no-brainer at this price’.

So that’s about it from us, no mention of politics this week – can’t be anything going on or did I miss something?  Anyway, we’ll leave you with a paragraph lifted from the Drinks Business article published yesterday, called The Rise and Rise of Rosé – it’s the last statement (highlighted) that tickled us most:

Social media is awash with photos of millennials relaxing with glasses of pale rosé, having fun, often in the sun. Instagram is sometimes credited for the US boom in rosé. “Rosé has become the Champagne of millennials”, said anthropologist Richard Delerins at the 5th International Rosé Symposium (Rencontres Internationales du Rosé) in Marseille in January. “Rosé is more than a colour: it is a mode of self-expression that captures the moments of spontaneity and inner truth that are the values of millennials,” he said.

We’re still talking about a glass of wine, right?

And with that, we’re gone!

Alex is back, Reading and Negotiation

August 23rd, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

So, another watershed weekend is upon us. 

As the summer holidays stumble to a close, we have the last Bank Holiday of the year until Christmas and, by all accounts, it’s going to be a stonker.  3pm on Saturday afternoon we have forecast of 29 degrees here in town, 26 degrees down in the southwest and even 23 up in Northumberland; southern Spain will be 27 Celsius so, frankly, you might as well save your air-miles, and the planet at the same time, and just set up a gazebo on the common.

Given the state of play over the last few weeks it didn’t seem possible that it could get even quieter here in Wimbledon Park but quieter it has definitely got and it would be fair to say we are starting to become very envious of anyone who is able to work from home/work remotely.  One of our friends has been happily sending snaps of the view from his Greek island hideout, with his computer in the foreground and the caption ‘today’s office!’  – since we have but the view of Melrose Avenue from the shop and never have the chance to work from home, his humble brags have not been received too favourably!

Has the news taken a snooze, too?  Well, Boris is taking his 15 minutes of fame very seriously, travelling Europe, talking a lot, putting his feet on the French President’s table and hopefully becoming a negotiator of the stature of a Mandela, a Kissinger or a Roosevelt rather than a Trump!

Following on swiftly from A-level results, GCSE’s came out yesterday.  This was immediately followed by the entire 16 year old population of SW19 decamping to the Reading Festival armed with supersized portable chargers, a sleeping bag, definitely no alcohol and definitely no books – no reading at Reading apparently!  The Foo Fighters are headlining on Sunday, we still remember being teenagers when Dave Grohl’s first band was in its pomp – what on earth was their name again?

Cricket continues to delight and despair us – and also scare us just a little bit too.  Funny old weather yesterday but we managed to get some wickets although it seems that the Smith replacement, Labushchagne, should possibly have been in the starting eleven anyway.  Still, as we all know by now, anything can happen in Test cricket.  Football is all over the shop with Liverpool and Arsenal the only premiership teams with a full tally of points and Chelsea just above relegation whilst Fulham seem to be loving being back in the Championship. 

And of course, as you all know, Spain’s classic cycling race, La Vuelta, starts its journey on Saturday.  They’ve got a quick stop in Benidorm on Sunday, so if that’s where you happen to be holidaying, keep your eyes open for men in lycra.  Keeping with La Vuelta, it’s nice to know that at least one Englishman will wear the red jersey this year – Chris Froome received the 2011 jersey this week after the original winner was finally disqualified for doping.  For the win this year though, Alex is wildcarding with Rigoberto Uran whilst Wayne is backing Primoz Roglic so avoid putting money on either of these two!

Elsewhere, there is still plenty of talk in the trade about younger drinkers not drinking.  As discussed previously, in a survey last year of 10,000 16-24 year olds, 29% didn’t drink at all, which is a 10% increase of non-drinkers over a decade.  However, in a bit of a blow perhaps to Seedlip and their ilk, ‘they don’t see the point in alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits, preferring a glass of water if they choose not to drink.’ Drinks Retailing News 16-08-19.  It seems that some of those surveyed, those between 16 and 18, shouldn’t be drinking anyway but that’s a conversation for another time….

The ‘good’ news is Alex is now back from his travels and Wayne can have a day off.  If you can get him to stop talking about how good the olive oil is in Jaen, how great the ham is in Salamanca and how cheap the wine is in Carrefour he might pour you a tasting sample and let you get a word in edgeways.  Five euros for a brilliant Godello, four euros for lovely Verdejo – yep, thanks mate, very interesting but you do realise you were buying these wines in the country of production, that whilst VAT in Spain is 21%, excise duty is currently nil and you haven’t even factored in transportation costs to the UK!  Of course the wine was cheaper there, you muppet – why do I have to remind you of this every time you go on holiday!?

When he does eventually pour you a glass there’ll be a choice of two, as ever.

The white will be, in fact, a rosé.  It has come to our attention that we are now here at the rear end of August and we haven’t had our best seller on tasting yet. 

So, step by and have a taste of Chateau de L’Aumerade ‘Cuvée Marie-Christine’ 2018 £14.99 (6 for £78).  This Chateau is a 400 year old vineyard in the heart of Provence.  Its red soils are rich in minerals, giving it an edge on the quality stakes amongst its neighbours.  This edge was recognised in 1955 when the estate was designated “Cru Classé”.  A lovely pale salmon colour, it is indeed cracking stuff with delicate red berry fruits, slightly floral and an impressively long finish.  We think it is the perfect wine for summer, great with all manner of food, or just with the Sunday papers and a deck chair.  Oh, and it’s very suitable for vegans!

Staying in France, we will visit Beaujolais for a change and for a light red, suitable for chilling.  Beaujolais Villages ‘Cuvée Six’ 2018 – £10.99.  There’s been a quiet revolution going on in Beaujolais, some of the smartest burgundy winemakers have been buying up parcels of land, Co-operatives have been merging, and there has been a quality revamp too.  This wine is from the villages of Jullié and Emeringes, and grown on the sandy granitic soils that produce the best Gamay.  Tender, round and fruity as you’d expect from a pure expression of the grape variety.  Awesome with a plate of charcuterie, but actually really versatile on the food front, so do experiment!

And that’s it from us for this week.  Still got spaces on the Wine School and some of the Wine & Cheese tastings too should you fancy.  Also as a reminder, we will be shutting at 7pm tomorrow (Saturday) and will not be open again until Tuesday morning at 11am, bright and breezy and ready to serve!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine!

Dear OOOR (part II)

August 16th, 2019

Dear OOOR,

Here we are again, another week of August passed by in a whirlwind, several showers and a sunny Thursday. I discovered this week that you have a cousin OOAR – Automated Reply, who knew?  

First up, can you please pass our congratulations to everyone who received their A-level results this week. All that hard work and now the flush of excitement of something entirely new – Well done all!

Elsewhere, England harnessed the power of rain to improve their chances in the 2nd Test of The Ashes with no play whatsoever on the first day. Those refunds are going to smart!

On the political front, it is much more of the same old hubris from BoJo, the same old Jezza, despite the latest wheeze to get himself in Number 10. Win a no confidence vote, install yourself in No.10 then offer a new referendum AFTER a general election. Why not put it on the same ballot? That would at least save some taxpayers money on the organisational front. That said, his no confidence votes are like Nairo Quintana’s mountain attacks – much talked about but rarely witnessed.

The Home Office seems to think it a good idea to put warnings about carrying a knife on fried chicken boxes. Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “These chicken boxes will bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and challenge the idea that it makes you safer.” Now, I’m all for warning people about the dangers of knife crime and doing all you can to prevent it but surely I can’t be the only one that thinks this is, at best, rather stereotyping their target audience?

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. To celebrate this milestone there is an archive box set of 38 discs being released. Now, I know many of us just don’t have the time to relive the entire weekend, so it may be worth searching out a copy of the original album for a spot of nostalgia (maybe on Spotify or Deezer). Richie Havens ‘Freedom’ and the version of ‘Soul Sacrifice’ by Santana, just as they were garnering public attention, are both well worth checking out.

The only wine news of note is that a huge winery dating from the Crusades has been found under a house in Mi’ilya in northern Israel.  Thought to date from the 12th century it has two enormous treading floors for crushing grapes and could be the biggest in the Levant.

Tasting This Weekend

We’ll carry on with wines from places you may spend a holiday. This week the white t-shirt will be sported by something a little special, one of our more esoteric wines. Las 30 del Cuadrado 2017 (£20.99). Hailing from Sanlucar de Barrameda, just around the corner from Cádiz on Spain’s southern coast, this is made from Palomino grapes grown on 70 year old vines. Wild fermentation on natural yeasts in old Manzanilla barrels gives this wine a really savoury character.

Meanwhile, the red swimming trunks will be worn by Cambria Benchbreak Pinot Noir 2013 (£27.49) from California’s Santa Maria Valley. It’s one of those really soft Pinot Noir’s that just scream ‘drink me’ from the moment you pour a glass.

That’s probably it from us except to say have fun to those who enquired about holiday drinking in Sardinia, the Marche and Portugal this week.


Dear Out Of Office Reply

August 9th, 2019

Dear OOOR,

I hope you don’t mind me using your acronym, but I feel we’ve got so close these last few days. I wanted to thank you for returning Barbara, James and Sarah to the fold, but at what cost? How many of our readers have you run off with this week?  

Will you let them know that the transfer window has slammed shut, with Arsenal getting a bargain in David Luiz, Newcastle’s medical team becoming much busier now Andy Carroll has joined and, despite much speculation, Danny Rose will be strutting his stuff on the Tottenham Broadway? Once again, Manchester United led the way as ridiculous amounts of money changed hands for players in the Premiership, whilst teams in the lower divisions are going bust. Do you think it’d make any sense for the lower leagues to get more cash and maybe act as some kind of academy process? Anyway, let them know the Premiership season starts this evening, Liverpool and Norwich first up.

Will you also tell them that the England cricket team have spent the entire week in the nets practicing defensive shots? They were definitely found wanting in the first match of The Ashes.

I suspect they’d be quite interested to hear that despite Conservative members voting for Mr Johnson to be their leader, they seem to have ended up with Mr Cummings instead and we’re sure he’s not even an MP.

India has cancelled the special status of Kashmir and the price of smart winter woollies are expected to rocket. Jokes aside, I’m not sure how ethical blocking all forms of communication are, the cynical part of me might find the government has things they’re trying to hide.

It seems Kermit is in charge of the railways as the UK train companies made complete fools of themselves this week. On Wednesday they announced their decision to pull out of the European wide Interrail scheme. By Thursday they were so happy with the decision that they reversed it. Nice work!

In France, those purveyors of the ‘naturally’ blue wine that we have discussed in the past are now under investigation by the French authorities. It appears that chemists at the University of Toulouse have detected E133 which is the same blue dye used in Blue Curaçao, if found guilty the sentence for putting additives in wine is two years jail and a €375000 fine. You heard it here first!

While I’m chatting with you, did you see that scientists at the University of Glasgow have invented an artificial ‘tongue’ that can detect the differences in whiskies with over 99% of accuracy.  A selection of different whiskies and ages were used in the testing and it could distinguish the different ages, the different barrels and the different distilleries.  When I read stories like this I do wonder about our future, perhaps I just read too many Sci-Fi books as a kid.

Anyway I should think about wrapping this up now, It’s been nice to chat to you OOOR but I really do need to get on.

I’d just mention that the Wine School that starts in October has four places left, so if you’ve been checking the diary don’t dally for too much longer. Full details are attached.


Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –


Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Tasting This Weekend

Continuing our tour of holiday destinations, this week we’re visiting the Loire valley for the white. Not far from the city of Nantes is Domaine des Herbauges. We’ll taste their Moulin d’Argent Chardonnay 2018 (£11.99) which is from vines around the lake of Grand-Lieu in Muscadet country. Crisp, dry, and completely done in stainless steel, the wine gets a little lees contact for complexity. We like to think of it as a Chablis replacement, just without the price tag.

We’ve heard Sicily is popular this time of year, so we’ll be making an offer you can’t refuse with Lumari Nero d’Avola/Syrah 2018 (£10.49) a deliciously juicy red that’ll be tasty with all sorts of antipasti!

With that I’m off, thanks for listening! u

Lost & Found

August 2nd, 2019

Dear Out of Office Reply,

We wondered if you might keep this handy in the Inbox for the person that normally sits in front of you.

I’m sure they’ll want to read this when they get back. I know they’ll have missed the delicious tasting at the weekend, but there is a chance that some of the other information will still be pertinent.

If you feel the need to share this email with covering desks please do go ahead, we’re always happy to be seen with new eyes.


We’ve been reading the news this week and have discovered that it can be read in many different ways.

The new PM, Boris Johnson has been on a whistle stop tour of the United Kingdom and was greeted by boos wherever he went.” Could also be read as: “Whilst on a surprise visits around the United Kingdom this week, PM Boris Johnson was taken aback when many voters greeted him with a boo. It really made him jump!”

“The Bank of England  had a meeting this week, left interest rates unchanged and predicted that Brexit would give a 1 in 3 chance of a recession. “ reads quite differently to “The Bank of England  had a meeting this week, left interest rates unchanged and predicted that Brexit would give a 2 in 3 chance of no recession.”

News that really shook us though, was the discovery that somebody has stolen Hotel Chocolat’s Chocmobile. In a story reminiscent of the old ice-cream wars of the eighties, the vehicle went missing from their HQ in Royston. We wondered if it might be a “local shop for local people” scenario, till we realised it was the wrong Royston. 

A reward has been offered, consisting of five years subscription to the Chocolate Tasting Club and a visit to the inventing room at the factory. Apparently three males were spotted in the vicinity so we’ve contacted Messrs. Green, Black and Wonka but are yet to hear back from any of them.

So do keep ‘em peeled folks and  if you see an ice cream van with ‘more cocoa less sugar’ on the back Hotel Chocolat would like a word. Or it could just be a cheap publicity stunt.

Also, if anyone sees some breakfast show listeners please do return them to Radio 2, Zoe is missing about 780,000 of them.

Elsewhere, Google has organised a conference in Sicily discuss global warming. It’s known as The Camp, and  the rich and famous have arrived in over 100 private jets and an armada of super yachts. Seems to me that the great and the good could have saved thousands of tonnes of emissions if they’d come in just the one plane, or even more if somebody only had the technology for a conference call. My dad might have described it as: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Whilst on the subject of lunacy, in drinks related news, Los Angeles Zoo is to launch a beer brewed with the help of Charlie the sloth. He helped to choose a couple of extra ingredients for the brew from a range of fruits and flowers, plumping for pears and roses. The beer will be available at ‘Brew at The Zoo’ a music festival this weekend. So if you’re in the neighbourhood we look forward to a slow and considered tasting note.  Sometimes you really can’t make these things up!


Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –


Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING  SOLD OUT

Summer Saturdays

As usual for this month, tomorrow and the remaining Saturdays in August we will close at 7pm.

Tasting This Weekend

The white corner will host Flametree Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017 – £16.99, a cracking drop made by our chum Cliff Royle – it even won a gold medal at the Royal Sydney Wine show last year.

Sporting the bullfighters cape in the red corner will be Imperio Reserva 2011, Valdepeñas, Spain – £10.99 –  made by Bodegas Navarro Lopez, it is absolutely classic old school style Tempranillo, aged and rounded, with a colour heading to brick at the rim, liquorice and balsamic aromas combining with vanilla and spiced rich fruit on the nose.  Berry and cherry fruit flavours with spice and a smooth satisfying finish – great with some barbecued lamb and with the added incentive that Alex will be passing by in real-time as we taste the wine in London! ed0 Colorful Li

Billy, Boris and some Portugeezers

July 26th, 2019

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Well, that was fun wasn’t it; anyone got a swimming pool we can borrow?

Having hoped to open up here with some lyrics from Billy Idol and his hot city nights it transpires that, on closer research, his song is about hanging out in New York and not actually a current weather report.  Further research reveals that White Wedding is not a suitable song for that first dance; Rebel Yell is definitively not a study of the American Civil War whilst Dancing with Myself actually is about dancing with your own reflection.  Thanks wiki.  We also learnt that he was born in Stanmore, just round the corner from Alex’s grandmother’s flat and down the road from where Wayne parked up for the 1966 World Cup Final – too much information?  Sorry.

Moving on, in the biggest shock of the year so far, that other platinum blonde, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson became our new PM.  Nothing we can say will change this and I’m nervous.  In our lifetimes Wayne and I have seen ten or perhaps eleven Prime ministers – an 11 year old schoolkid has already seen five and could even see a sixth before year end!

Anyway, Boris has picked his team and now they have all gone fishin’ until September, which will give them about 40 working days to exit Europe.  Oh, and perhaps have an election too – more than enough time.  Teresa was seen sipping a clear drink with a slice of lime in it at Lord’s yesterday; she looked remarkably relaxed, unshackled and about 10 years younger – easy lays the head that no longer wears the crown, to horrendously misquote the Bard.

She did witness a bit of a fight back by the England team though, including an extraordinary innings by a number 11 plus the traditional mid-order collapse.  Good to see Roy in the runs, bit of a concern about Burns though, is the step up to Test a bit too big – Australia will be watching and learning.  Wayne has been hard at work every morning this week in order to guarantee undisturbed viewing of the Tour de France in the afternoon although he has twice missed the finish due to well-timed customer interventions – how we laughed!  Oh, and as for his persistent criticism of Quintana – well, yesterday left him lost for words.

Holidays are now in full swing and with them holiday havoc headlines.  Threats of strikes on BA, trains having to drive more slowly due to the rails getting too hot and our Devon correspondent tells tale of hour long tailbacks down to Bantham – I’m sure the Gastrobus is doing roaring trade!

In our world of wine, Rosé is still ruling the roost.  Prosecco seems to be slowing down, Crémant is speeding up whilst Gin is starting to plateau a bit.  Beer seems to be growing again whilst red wines are stalling a bit – could this be the heat.  In the real world, Fever Tree announced a slowdown in growth, blaming the weather as ever but perhaps this is another sign of a gin plateau?  We’ll see…

And that’s about it for news really.  Tasting season is over until September which, judging by the shop temperature this week can only be regarded as a good thing.  Here are the Autumn dates, as a reminder for you whilst you read this by the pool:

Thursday 18th July at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 12th September at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 10th October at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 17th October at 8pm –


Jonathan and Rachel Treloar own and run this small, highly-regarded vineyard and winery in the Roussillon, France’s most exciting wine region.

Thursday 7th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

Thursday 28th November at 8pm – WINE & CHEESE TASTING – £20

The greatest hits from all the tastings over 2019, just in time for Christmas!

Thursday 5th December at 8pm – CHRISTMAS BUBBLES TASTING – £30

Our annual journey through the world of fizz and Champagne – will the same people turn up this year we wonder!?!?

If anyone is still around we’ll also have wine open this weekend.  We’ve restocked our Portuguese shelves this month and are very excited to get some old friends back on the shelves and open for tasting:

Adega Camolas Clô Branco 2018 – £9.99 from the Setubal peninsula this is an absolute charmer of a white.  Fruity and aromatic, it’s a blend of Fernão Pires and Moscatel with a lovely dry finish and a real food all-rounder.

Vinha Paz 2015 – £18.99 from the Dão, this is a small property, owned by Antonio Canto Moniz, a surgeon by trade but whose family connections to winemaking in the Dão stretch back several generations; his grandfather was the first president of the Federation of Dão Winemakers.  Henrique, Antonio’s youngest son, is currently the winemaker behind this gem and there is a real love affair with the land and special terroir of their vines.  A rich spicy blend 50% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz, 15% Alfrocheiro, 5% Jaen, that spent 8 months in a mixture of French and American oak and is exactly what is great and exciting about wines from Portugal.

Summer Saturdays

As has become our custom, Saturdays in August we will close at 7pm, so that’s from next Saturday 3rd August.

That’s it from us – August is almost upon us, Alex is away from the middle of next week and so, for the next few weeks, as there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove, I’ll be dancing with myself! ]]3210@�