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OCTOBER WINE CLUB

A visit to Averys of Bristol is always a delight. They are one of our oldest wine merchants, and while most of the stock is kept these days in a modern warehouse out of town, they still have a cellar in central Bristol.

3 October 2007

3:34 PM

3 October 2007

3:34 PM

This is a cellar that looks like a cellar, with stacks of wine in wooden cases, some of it covered in dust and cobwebs, the finest stored in a locked cage with a creaking door.

In spite of that, they have a modern approach to pricing. The business has an enormous turnover, and the inevitable consequence is that they overstock on some wines, which have to be priced to clear. These are absolutely first-rate bottles, but some are a little unfamiliar and won’t sell off the page; others are so good that Averys’ people bought them in vast quantities. The result is that once again we are offering some terrific bargains this month.

Take the 21 per cent discount on Tamaya 2007 (1), a Chilean blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which has the perfume of the first grape, the peach and vanilla savour of the second, plus the dry grassiness of the last. It’s a great full-flavoured, zestful wine for glugging any time, and it would make a perfect aperitif. Reduced to just £4.75.

There’s £2 a bottle (28 per cent) off the Terrace Vale Chardonnay 2005 (2) from the Hunter Valley in Australia. This strikes me as having all the flesh and all the weight of a classic Oz Chardonnay, and for a remarkably low price. The other day we had a friend round. She asked for a white wine — ‘anything but Chardonnay’ — so we offered a white Burgundy instead. ‘That would be lovely!’ she replied. Curious how many people don’t realise that it’s the same grape, and that it makes some of the finest white wines in the world. This is not Meursault, but it is a very nice drop and very good value.


Which brings us to the Sancerre Couronne et Lion 2006 (3). At just £7.75 (a reduction of almost 30 per cent) this is amazing. I’m often hesitant about recommending Sancerre; many of you clearly prefer the bolder, fruitier whoomph of New Zealand Sauvignon, and I am a fan of the neighbouring appellation, Menetou-Salon. But this is very good and at a stunning price.

You could try it in the mixed case, then bang in an order for some more. They have plenty in stock.

Now the reds. As I never tire of saying, there are some wonderful wines being made in southern France these days, often providing great depth of flavour and finesse for far less than you’d pay for the great names. Take this Minervois wine, made by Nerida Abbot, Abbots 2002 (4). It’s lovely — spicy, herby, fresh and tasting of cherries. Averys has knocked a quarter off the price, bringing it down to a mere £4.50.

Chilean wines have made huge strides lately, and the country continues to climb up the unofficial league table of British imports. Again, Averys has taken 25 per cent off the Tabali Reserve Shiraz 2005 (5) to bring it down to £7.50. This is the perfect wine to get in for the winter dinners ahead: rich, round, oozing flavour, and with that peppery spice that makes Shiraz work with so many strongly flavoured foods.

The same discount and the same price apply to the Château Roland La Garde 2005 (6). I know that many Spectator readers are deeply loyal to claret. I keep trying to persuade one frequent visitor to our house — I name no names, but my father-in-law knows who he is — to try delicious New World reds. He will sniff and sip politely, but if I ask if he’d really prefer a red Bordeaux, he always says yes. He will enjoy this one greatly, though I may not let on about how inexpensive it is. Much claret sold at this price is rubbish, but this is fine.

Delivery, as ever, is free and there is a sample case which allows you to try all the wines.


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