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February Wine Club

Time for our annual offer of Château Musar from the excellent folk at Wheeler Cellars, sister company to Lay & Wheeler.

20 February 2008

12:00 AM

20 February 2008

12:00 AM

Time for our annual offer of Château Musar from the excellent folk at Wheeler Cellars, sister company to Lay & Wheeler.

Time for our annual offer of Château Musar from the excellent folk at Wheeler Cellars, sister company to Lay & Wheeler. Once again you have the chance to place your order for the luscious new 2001 vintage Musar red (1), which becomes more popular every year. Old fans will know what to expect; new drinkers will savour that full, deep, leathery, smoky, perfumed richness — and of course the cedar notes — not surprising in a wine from Lebanon.

I am also a lover of the white (2), which is slightly unusual, being made from two local Lebanese grapes. It seems to taste of cream, lemon and apples, so I think of it as a liquid tarte tatin. It’s not dry, but it’s not really sweet either, so it’s good on its own, or with desserts or fresh fruit (Sauternes with treacle pudding, say, is a disaster, since the sweetness of both cancel each other out). The Musar people say to serve it at ‘cellar’ temperature; if you don’t have a cellar, give it half an hour in the fridge door. Musar orders will be sent separately at the end of May. Wheeler Cellars are giving you the chance to sample the white, by offering two bottles in a case along with 10 reds (3).

There are some terrific bargains in our main offer. Some of the best value French wine now comes from country areas, and in the Pays d’Oc the Montagne Noir people have come up with a lovely, fruity and zesty Marsanne 2006 (4). The £6.50 case discount brings it down to £4.25, and it’s a cracker. I love this grape, which actually seems to taste of the sun. Again, a really nice wine at a supermarket price. Perfect for parties, because your guests can drink it all night and still feel great.


Wheeler Cellars has knocked £12 a case off the Leflaive Aligoté 2006 (5). Aligoté is the second grape of Burgundy and is often used to make kir. That would be an awful waste here. Nothing Olivier Leflaive puts in a bottle is less than first-rate, and this is fresh and zingy and full of fruit. It’s now £7.50.

You’ll save £24 a case on the Sauvignon Blanc from Lawson’s Dry Hills 2006 (6). This is a distinguished New Zealand estate, and theirs is a very superior Sauvignon. It has a richness that blends beautifully with the herby, grassy, lime flavours. Great with food, but also a party wine if you really like your guests. Down to £8.

Now the reds. There is almost a tenner a case off the Syrah 2005 from Montagne Noir (7). At only £4.50 this is a smashing wine, rounded, toasty, yet packed with the lively taste of the grape. Almost an Oz-style Shiraz at a fraction of the cost. At the less expensive end, the French are sometimes now beating the Antipodeans.

Nearly £21 has come off a case of the velvety Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (8) from Beaujoubert in Stellenbosch, one of South Africa’s leading wine regions. At £6.25 it’s a superb bargain, though I should warn claret lovers that it is slightly earthier than a typical Bordeaux. I like that, and some people love it. If you’re not sure, order it in the sample case; if you like it, there’ll be plenty of time to get in more.

Finally, a terrific bargain. The Moa Ridge Pinot Noir 2006 (9) from Marlborough is another example of how well the Kiwis are doing with the classic Burgundy grape. Pinot makes a delicately scented wine, but it can be a little mimsy — ‘jejune’ in the correct sense of the word, meaning thin and undernourished. A really good example will be robust, bursting with a powerful flavour. As this is. And at £30 a case off, or 25 per cent, you’d be mad not to buy it.

Delivery, as ever is free, and the sample case allows you to try all the wines and order more of those you like best — at the same generous prices.


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