August is a slow month for wine sales, which no doubt is why Mark Cronshaw of The Wine Company in Colchester has slashed so many prices in this offer. These six wines are all delectable. One is reduced by a remarkable £48 a case. (Often this happens because a wine is absolutely first-rate but largely unknown, with the result that it doesn’t sell off the page, so to speak. So it is heavily reduced, and the people who snap up the bargain are thrilled by their luck.)
Three of my choices this week are from France, two from South Africa, and one from Chile. Two are what I think of as party wines: moderately priced bottles which will still leave your friends delighted at your generosity and good taste.
We start with a Sauvignon de Touraine 2011 (1), a party-pleaser from the Domaine Bellevue. This scrummy wine proves again that the French are directly taking on the challenge from New Zealand. It has all the grassy, gooseberry, hay flavours of a Sancerre, but it has an extra rounded fruitiness. We drank most of a bottle, then left the rest in the fridge for three days — after which it was even nicer. And it’s just £7.50 — a reduction of over £15 a case.
Next a Chablis. As I never tire of saying, there is a lot of bad Chablis sloshing about, often at what appear to be good prices. Which they would be if the fluid tasted of anything but alcoholic milk of magnesia. So to find a really nice Chablis like this 2011 Les Manants (2) at a tenner a bottle — a £33 per case reduction — is wonderful. It’s not the greatest Chablis — you can easily pay £40 a bottle for that — but it is racy, flinty, fresh and with a beguiling earthy undertone. What the French call terroir I suppose. It’s £9.99 a bottle, and very well worth it.
Walker Bay is one of the up and coming South African wine-growing areas, notable for wines of elegance and balance. (No one ever said to a wine waiter, ‘We have just sealed a million-pound deal; please bring us something elegant to knock back,’ but you know what I mean.) The warm days and cool night-time breezes from the sea combine to provide both richness and the necessary acidity. Maritimus is a blend of white grapes, just over half Sauvignon Blanc with a good slosh of Chardonnay, made at the excellent Sumaridge winery. The 2010 (3) costs exactly a tenner a bottle, and if you don’t love it I shall be very surprised.
Our party red is the 2011 Pionero Pinot Noir from the Morandé winery in the Casablanca Valley in Chile (4). This too combines bags of fruit with a certain earthiness, reminiscent of many generic Burgundies at twice the price. Down to £6.99 a bottle.
Now two magnificent reds, wines for keeping to yourself and sipping with steaks, casseroles or roast lamb — or anything really. They are quite delicious. The 2008 Black Label from the Domaine de la Jasse in Languedoc-Roussillon (5) is ludicrously called a ‘vin de pays’, which shows how outdated the appellation rules are. This is a Bordeaux in all but name, 90 per cent Cabernet with a dash of Merlot, and it’s superb. Velvety, with deep, dark flavours of forest fruits, vanilla, coffee, cedar — you name it. Delicious now (decant it an hour or so before serving) but it will go on improving for years. At £11 a bottle (a £3 a bottle reduction), it’s worth laying in lots. You could be drinking this happily past the middle of the decade.
Finally another magnificent wine from Sumaridge, this one discounted by nearly £48 a case. It’s their Epitome blend, largely Syrah but with a fair measure of Pinotage and Merlot, which makes it a Rhône wine with, again, an earthy taste that just adds to the richness and complexity. And reduced to £12 a bottle from £16, there’s no reason not to try it, if only in the sample case.
Delivery, as ever, is free.Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to The Wine Company, or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 22 September 2012.