The magazine The Drinks Business recently published a list of the ten most annoying descriptions of wine. I agree with most of their judgments: for instance, ‘icon’ is just a lazy word for a wine that has an inflated reputation. ‘Reserve’ merely means ‘better than our usual stuff’. Which is the same as ‘premium’. ‘Passion’ is a stupid term, at a time when sandwich bars claim to be ‘passionate about food’. And ‘terroir’ is often a smart-alec excuse for thin, weedy wines which taste of the stones on which they were grown and little else.
Anyhow, none of these words are applied to our selection of six terrific wines from Private Cellar, a very high class merchants in East Anglia. Our first choice is a delectable NV pink sparkler from Château de Sours (1) which helped kick-start the rosé revolution a few years ago. Many pink champagnes can cost £40 or £50 a bottle, and are what we describe as ‘subtle’ and ‘elegant’, two more terms that can mean ‘doesn’t taste of very much’. Whereas the de Sours has all the powerful fruity zest of strawberries, raspberries and cream. £13.50.
So many restaurants, pubs and theatre bars offer Pinot Grigio that you wonder where it all comes from. Many merchants suspect that the label is slapped on any old white wine to hoist the price. But this Gregoris 2012, made by Antonio Fattori (3), has real class and real flavour. If you paid £6 for a glass of this in a grasping West End theatre you wouldn’t feel you’d been stiffed — and PC are offering a whole bottle for £9.95.
Now a star attraction. You will need to get your skates on to order this beauty, as there are only limited stocks. It’s a 2011 Wild Ferment Chardonnay (3) from Springfontein in South Africa, and it is superb. ‘Wild ferment’ is not a pretentious term; it just means that the wine doesn’t get any added yeast. The result is a rich, deep, multi-layered wine that I thought was a joy. As I say, you’ll need to move quickly — though if they run out, they’ll offer you the similarly delicious Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin from the same range. £14.85.
Now our reds, and the first is a Malbec from Argentina, an Ique 2012 (4). It’s been very popular with readers for years now and if you know it, you’ll like it. A first-rate glugging wine, lighter than some Malbecs, and admirable value at £9.25.
Our next wine, a Pinotage, also comes from Springfontein and is, I regret to say, called a ‘terroir selection’. But it is still delicious. Pinotage used to be famous for being muddy — some people liked that so much they would ask merchants if they had anything muddier, like men in macs in Soho wanting something stronger. This 2008 (5) has gorgeous, dark, forest-fruit flavours, a touch of cedar, a silkiness, and is altogether luscious. You might try it in the mixed case because I am sure you’ll want to order more. £15.50.
Finally a brilliant wine from the Sassicaia family in Tuscany. This is in effect the third wine from one of the greatest of all Italian estates, and it is quite stunning: Le Difese 2010 (6). It’s 70 per cent young Cabernet vines, and 30 per cent Sangiovese, and it is complex, velvety, herbaceous, and packed with glorious flavours, proof once again that the Italians are making some of the finest red wines in the world right now. This is, I promise you, superb. £16.95.
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