I have been enjoying Growing Up in Restaurants by James Pembroke (Quartet), which is largely autobiographical, but also covers the history of eating out in this country, including the darkest days of the last century. But even in the 1950s and 1960s there were people trying to produce edible food, some successfully, and looking at past menus has made me nostalgic. I’d love to have eaten at 235 Kings Road in 1968 — avocado vinaigrette 4/6, prawn cocktail 4/6, followed by coq au vin or sole meunière, 12/6 each, rounded off with a syllabub also at 4/6. Yum!
And what would we have drunk? Possibly some of the nostalgic wines provided for us this month by the wondrous Tanners of Shrewsbury. But then we’d have drunk them because we supposed they were good. Now we drink them because they actually are good. Take the 2011 Muscadet Sur Lie from the Domaine Fief de la Brie (1). Muscadet, a Loire wine made from the Melon grape, was a cult hit in Paris, then spread like a slick around Europe. Some was useful for pouring on the weeds between your paving stones. But this is delectable. ‘Sur lie’ means it has been left to mature on its bits and bobs for extra flavour, and the result is fruity, rounded, yet with that tang of the sea which would make it first rate with fruits de mer, preferably including oysters and langoustines. Reduced by £9 a case.
We might also have drunk Mâcon, once the little inferior brother of Burgundy. No wonder the local mayor invented kir, in which the thinness and acidity were disguised by blackcurrant syrup. That is no longer necessary. Today’s Mâcon is a brilliant, subtle, creamy, fruit-filled drop, and substantially better value than echt Burgundy. I loved this Mâcon-Vergisson Les Rochers (2) — £12 off each case.
Now Tanners’ own brand 2011 Mosel (3). We guzzled a lot of German wine then. (Recently I saw a play set in the 1920s in which the characters order a slap-up feast in London’s best restaurant. Washed down, of course, with hock.)
Everyone in the trade says the same; these days wine folk are almost the only people who love Riesling. But please forget Blue Nun and Lutomer and enjoy the huge variety of superb German wines. This one is not quite bone dry, but very far from sweet, and it has lovely mellow apricot undertones. Reduced by £12 a case.
And now another wine perfect for summer drinking. Tanners’ own-brand French rosé 2011 (4) from Gascony has that great floral-yet-clarety feel people want in a pink wine these days. Made from a blend of four different grapes, it is wonderful plumptious outdoor quaffing, powerful enough to stand against a meaty barbecue. £9 off each case.
Our first red is a Côtes du Rhône 2010 from Combe de la Roche (5), with that familiar herby, spicy, peppery undertone. It tastes saturated with sun, so would also be tickety-boo if we have another cold summer, though it is light enough to drink under the shade of a pergola too. £9 off each case.
Finally an exciting new bottle from Catalonia, La Petite Agnès 2012 (6). I have often said that northern Spain is one of the great new wine areas, and in spite of its name this is made near Barcelona (mind you, that’s a city that barely regards itself as Spanish) grown on what the locals call llicorella, a slatey soil that gives the wine its great smoky, berry flavours. I have seen obscure wines from obscure grapes dotted about northern Spain triple in price as the world discovers them, and I have a feeling the same may happen here. With a £12 case discount it is, frankly, amazing.
Delivery as always is free, and there is a sample case — astounding value at under a hundred quid — containing two of each bottle.
Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to the wine merchant, or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 31 May 2013.
Click here to take advantage of this offer (subject to closing date)