Corney & Barrow have really pulled out the stops on this one. They presented a couple of dozen wines for me to taste and so delicious were they that it was the Devil’s own job trying to whittle them down to six. In fact, I gave up trying, which is why there are seven wines in this offer. Sorry, but there it is. I just couldn’t choose between them.
Corney & Barrow’s MD, Adam Brett-Smith, was in especially munificent mood too. There’s a 5 per cent discount, and not only did he confirm that the celebrated ‘Brett-Smith Indulgence’ (whereby he lops £6 off each case when you order two cases or more) was firmly in place, as negotiated by my illustrious and crafty predecessor, but he also declared that the full Indulgence is now on offer to those ordering from anywhere in the UK, not just from within the M25. Well done, Adam, and thank you.
They hold exclusive rights to the likes of Pétrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Clos de Tart, but Corney & Barrow also specialise in top-quality wines at the other end of the scale which, happily, have rather more relevance to most of us. The 2012 Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Morin -Langaran (1) is a case in point. An ancient grape variety of the Languedoc, Picpoul is firmly back in fashion and makes an ideal aperitif. This example is light and tongue-tinglingly refreshing with citrus and apricot on nose and palate, and a rounded, slightly savoury finish. It’s spot on with seafood too. Just £8.50.
The 2012 The Lane, Block 1A Chardonnay (2) from Australia’s Adelaide Hills, is a class act and no mistake. From (relatively) cool-climate vineyards some 450 metres high, it is part steel- and part oak-fermented. Regionality is the key to Australia and if you like restrained, elegant, creamy Chardonnay with the subtlest hints of baked apple, honey, toast, butter, this is for you. It’s £13.25.
The 2009 Carmel Road Riesling from Monterey County, California (3) quite stopped me in my tracks. I had no idea that such elegant and refined Riesling could be found in California. I was misled by the shape of bottle and the colour of the wine and was expecting a brash, blowsy, show-off Chardonnay but found instead a seductive Riesling of pure understated charm. It’s apple-fresh with typical notes of petrol and honeysuckle and the faintest touch of creamy spice thanks to the merest dribble of Gewürztraminer and a 0.1 per cent drop of Chardonnay. It’s absolutely delicious. The price is £14.20.
We’ve a brace of Italians among the reds starting with the surprisingly sophisticated (given the price), spicy and robust 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Roccastella’ Villa Bizzarri (4). It’s ripe, it’s juicy, it’s slightly tannic and it’s perfect with game stews and roasts. It’s also a steal at £7.84.
The 2011 Insoglio del Cinghiale Campo di Sasso (5) from Bolgheri in Tuscany is an old favourite of mine, the entry level (and what an entry level!) to Lodovico Antinori’s range from Tenuta di Biserno. Antinori knocked our socks off with his so-called ‘Super Tuscans’ Ornellaia and Masseto, and this blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot is of similar pedigree. Packed with dark damson fruit, liquorice, herbs and spice, it’s truly classy. This one’s £18.00.
Mendoza, Argentina, is so well known for its superb Malbecs that it can come as a surprise to find other single varietals such as the 2011 Petit Verdot, Bodega Ruca Malen (6). Happily Corney & Barrow snapped this example up for it’s a real treat — black as your hat and full of ripe, concentrated plums, prunes and cherries with touches of vanilla and spice. It’s big stuff all right, but smooth and stylish and only £11.87.
Finally, we’ve the 2011 Wiston Estate Rosé Brut (7), an absolute belter of a pink, pink fizz from West Sussex. Made by Dermot Sugrue, formerly of Nyetimber, this should shut the doubters up and prove beyond doubt that England is capable of producing traditional method sparkling wines to rival the very best. Surprise your ever-loving with it on Valentine’s Day. It’s £34.15.
Delivery, as ever, is free, and there’s a sample case containing two bottles each of the non-sparkling wines.
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.
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All prices are correct at time of publication, but we may alter prices at any time for any reason.