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Sunflowers, DotW, Courgettes, Summer Quiz, Goodbyes and Car’s the Star

The day of reckoning is almost upon us. Get your tape measures out and send in your scores for the tallest sunflower competition. Amanda has done her worst and put together a booze-with-Olympics-theme fun quiz together for you, just for fun of course. We have DotW, Car’s the Star, some retirees, courgettes and a new guest beer. What better way could you start the weekend?!

Sunflower Check-In

It is some time since we issued sunflower seeds for this years Tallest Sunflower Competition. It hasn’t exactly been a normal growing season but I think it is time we had a proper check in. If you have been nurturing your plant from its lovely little seeding through childhood, adolesence into full adulthood, now is the time to reveal your offspring.

Our ‘rogue’ sunflower growing in the tubs outside the shop

Please send in your pictures, with (honest) measurements, we’ll take a look and see if we have a winner. As it happens Trish has one last plant that has yet to form a flowerhead, it may be a late entry. Naturally, the best performers will be published and there may be a small prize for the winner.

Dog of the Week

This weeks DotW is a little cheat really, because he hasn’t been to the shop (yet). On a recent whistle-stop trip to Cornwall, Trish and I encountered Drake, a rather handsome Rhodesian Ridgeback. Drake lives in a castle, lucky for him. Despite being resident with a number of chickens, he is cool and calm, mostly spending his time snoozing on the lawn or on the drive.
A huge thank you to Frieda, Javvy and all of the team at Trematon Castle ( for looking after us on what turned out to be a bonkers 24 hour visit. And of course to my amazing friends at Moet Hennessy for a(nother) trip of a lifetime. Everything about it was magical, especially the Krug Collection 1982 en magnum. Yum.

Courgette Calls

I am sure many readers will be enjoying (suffering?) a glut of courgettes at this time of year. We made the tactical error of planting 5 seedlings, all of which have grown into monsters. And the big question is what to do with them all? I like them grilled with a slight char. Carol’s daughter made us a courgette cake, most of which we have demolished today. It was super – thank you Louise! One thing I didn’t know about was Courgette Calls. It turns out that if you hold an oversized courgette to your ear, think of a person you would like to speak to and that person happens to be in the garden holding a similarly oversized courgette next to their ear while thinking of calling you, a connection is made! Here’s Charlie and I having a conversation not more than a week ago.
Give it a try. Of course you might need to make a normal phone call to set it all up, which sort of defeats the object of the Courgette Call, but hey, that’s not the point, right?!

Summer Quiz (with an Olympic theme)

We thought it was time to give you another quiz, just for fun. This one has an Olympic theme – much more wholesome than football drinking games! Answers will be available next week, although based on previous experience some of you won’t be able to wait that long.

Question 1: Which country / principality competing in the Tokyo Olympics has the highest wine consumption per head, and fewest members of athletes competing?

Question 2: Which Country from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics overtook the USA in 2014 as the world’s largest consumers of red wine – by volume?

Question 3: In Australia there are 65 separate wine regions with more than 100 different grape varieties grown. 2 varieties are grown in every region. Which 2 are they?
a. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay?
b. Merlot and Chardonnay?
c. Shiraz and Chardonnay ?

Question 4: Which wine is the top seller in the USA?
a. Chardonnay
b. White Zinfandel
c. Merlot

Question 5: Which Country from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics claims to have the World’s oldest wine growing region?

Question 6: The Tokyo wine bars are famed for their love of Orange wine. What is Orange wine?
a. wine made from oranges
b. white wine fermented with the skins of white grapes
c. A pale rosé wine

Question 7: Japan does produce some grape wines but the damp climate and fertile soil make it more suitable to produce Saké wine. What is Saké made from?

Question 8: Great Britain has been producing wines since the Roman times. How many vineyards are there thought to be currently in Britain?
a. 47
b. 303
c. 703

Question 9: Which wine producing Country’s citizens from the leading top 10 places of the Medal Table in the Tokyo Olympics drinks almost 5 times as much beer per head than it does wine?

Question 10: Which Hollywood star this week picked up 2 Gold Medals at the prestigious New York International Wine Competition for their latest wines? (Ed: the medals mention in this question is apparently the tentative Olympic connection here)

No New Ins, so it’s time to say Goodbye…

We usually have a New Ins section at this point in Sheldon’s Times. If you didn’t know better you’d think I continually added wines to the collection without retiring anything. Tonight we are going to put the record straight, meaning it is time to say goodbye to the following wines from the collection. All bar one have become difficult to get or have had price rises that make them unattractive to buy and present to you.

1989 & 2000 Cantemerle double mags (sad…)
1996 Chateau Batailley
1996 Cantemerle (I keep looking!)
2005 Gruaud Larose magnums
2009 Chateau de Fonbel
2009 Capbern Gasqueton
2009 Chateau Phelan Segur
2012 Chateau Musar (too expensive compared to older vintages)
2013 Chateau Musar (ditto)
2015 Reserve de la Comtesse (I may get some more if I can find it)
2018 Malandes Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru (yep, all gone, only magnums of 2019 and probably no 2020 and 2021 because of the awful frosts so it might be a while before we see this wine back in bottle, what a shame)

There are more, but that will do for now. Dear wines, you have served us well, we thank you.

This week’s Guest Beer: Clavell & Hind’s Recantation of an Ill Led Life

This week’s guest beer comes from a microbrewery based in Birdlip, just outside Gloucester. The brewery has taken it’s name from two famous highwaymen who used to travel the coaching routes of the Cotswolds, stopping at inns and taverns to quench their thirst and plot their next escapade. John Clavell is known for a poem published in 1628, the name of which adorns this new IPA. The poem recalls the misadventures of his early years, then acknowledges the errors of his ways in later life. Here’s the key snippet:
“Now you corrupt rebels, who call yourselves knights of the road, that take pride & make your profession by this wicked course.
My desire was drawn at first to this ill course, I hugged it in my dreams, and in my waking fits. I admired none but these knights of the road.
But now I know how far I was amiss …
as I recant my ill led life”
This particular brew is an unfined & unfiltered hazy IPA. The C&H team describe it as bursting with flavour from Ella & Olicana hops for a powerful mango, passionfruit and peach aroma. £3.50 per 440ml tin. As usual, Amanda and I will be drinking the first can as tonight’s email hits your virtual doormats…..

Car’s the Star

Last week we had a delightful Mk2 Jag from the late 50’s or 60’s. Following hot on it’s heels is this smashing Mk1. The Mark 1 was built between 1955 and 1959, immediately prior to the Mark 2. This particular Mk1 example has a rare factory fitted sunroof – a serious luxury item in the 50’s.
Many thanks to Andrew for dropping by (and being a regular visitor). Always a pleasure to see such super cars here at the shop.
That’s it for tonight’s Sheldon’s Times. I’ve just looked at the weather forecast for tomorrow – good news, there is a zero percent chance of snow. As for all of the other types of weather, who knows? Amanda, Trish and I will be here to look after you tomorrow so pop in and buy something to lift your August spirits.

Shane, Amanda, Esther, Nigel, Trish & Carol

Your sunflower-growing, Drake-loving, quiz-challenging wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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