As a highly trained economist I know the rule: you can tell how fast a recession is lifting by the start of Christmas. This year it began three months early, with the arrival of Heston Blumenthal’s Hidden Orange Christmas pudding in Waitrose. Last month the first gift guides began to flutter from the weekend papers. So this Yuletide offer from Corney & -Barrow seems almost too late. I do hope you find that seven weeks gives enough time.
It features wines to see you through jolly parties, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, plus superb bottles for the big meal. Prices are discounted by 5 per cent, and the Brett-Smith Indulgence, named after the Corney & Barrow honcho Adam Brett-Smith, brings a further £6 off per case if you buy three or more cases, or just two cases within the M25. This is why we cunningly offer Corney & Barrow’s house white (1) and house red (5) which cost only £6.60 a bottle (or £6.10 with the Indulgence), in the hopes that you will want to beef up your order and make the saving. Both wines are made under the strict supervision of Corney & Barrow’s buyers who make sure the standard is up to that demanded by a firm with the royal warrant. The white is crisp and lemony with plenty of fruit. The red is a blend of three grapes and is soft yet full-bodied.
Our first new white is from the Famatina Valley, one of the more obscure wine regions of Argentina. The Dominio de Toyo 2012 (2) is made from Torrontes, a grape which can be slightly weedy and sherbety, but here is sophisticated and rounded with lovely bright floral flavours. At £7.36 it’s just right for heart-gladdening parties.
I never tire of saying how careful you have to be with Chablis, or of repeating my golden rule: never buy it in a restaurant with a wipe-clean menu. The difference between the good stuff and the rest is just too great. But this 2012 from Vincent Dampt (3) is a perfect example of a fine, flavoursome Chablis, with the flintiness balancing the creaminess of the fruit. Lovely with seafood, and a great appetite-whetting aperitif. £13.26.
Now what Adam Brett-Smith calls the cheapest fine wine in the world. It is Mâcon-Verzé Domaines Leflaive 2010 (4) from what used to be the poor relation of Burgundy but which now, thanks to modern techniques, produces wine as good as more famous names, and with a considerable capacity to age. We drank a 2008 the other day and it was gorgeous. At £18.95 it’s quite a bargain.
Now our reds. Spectator readers have bought the Domaine de Saissac Cabernet Sauvignon (6) from the Pays d’Oc in great quantities in the past. Small wonder: it is a truly delicious, smooth, powerfully flavoured, easy-drinking, knock-it-back and stick your glass out for some more type of wine. Again, at only £7.55, perfect for parties.
It is amazing how many vineyards around the world are now making Pinot Noir — a difficult grape, but one which can produce amazing results. This 2012 reserva from the Viña Mar estate in Casablanca, Chile (7), is a prime example of what can be done, in this case for under a tenner. Warm and silky with spicy flavours, it would go perfectly with lamb or duck. Decant it beforehand, and your guests may well think they’re getting an echt Burgundy. Amazing value at £9.97.
As is our final choice, Corney & Barrow’s own Pomerol 2011 (8). This is made by the Moueix family, who create Pétrus, and it is leftover production from their other -Pomerol estates, including some of the greatest names in claret. Supple and luscious, deep, dark yet with a powerful bouquet, this is a wine that is drinking marvellously now, but will improve for years. At £17.05 a snip to go with your turkey or goose.
This offer is now closed. To see our current offers click here or call 020 7265 2470.
All prices are correct at time of publication, but we may alter prices at any time for any reason.