We don’t seem to have had a Wine Club offer from Corney & Barrow for a while and, with associate director James Franklin and his wines in cracking form at our Wine School the other day, I’m delighted to welcome them back to these pages.
It’s a typically classy selection, too, with three fine French wines and three super South Americans. And, thanks to some fancy Franklin footwork, plus the fabled Brett-Smith Indulgence, named for managing director Adam Brett-Smith — whereby £6 is lopped off each case of 12 bottles when you order two cases or more — we’ve managed to keep every bottle under a tenner. Hooray!
First, the 2014 Dominio de Toyo Torrontés (1), an exuberantly fragrant white from high altitude vineyards in Argentina’s remote Famatina Valley. Torrontés, Argentina’s signature white grape, has gained quite a following of late, and sipping this it’s easy to see why: it’s fresh, it’s lively and it’s just that little bit off-piste, with heaps of lychees, roses and peaches on nose and palate, but — ah — it’s nicely dry on the finish. I suppose its nearest equivalent would be Gewürztraminer. Incidentally, it makes a very moreish spritzer with sparkling water and lots of ice and even a sprig of mint. £7.05 with the Brett-Smith Indulgence, down from £7.95.
The 2013 Terre de Lumière Viognier (2) from the Languedoc is equally charming and a delightfully accessible example of one of my favourite grape varieties. We’re lucky to get our hands on it, since James Franklin tells me that a lot of it gets sold to canny Corney & Barrow staff, so taken are they with it. The flirtatious, come-hither notes of peaches, apricots and honeysuckle are kept well in check by a touch of citrus and a keen underlying acidity and freshness. £7.34 with the BSI, down from £8.25.
The 2013 Mont de Joie Sauvignon Blanc, is made especially for Corney & Barrow by the Bourgeois family in Sancerre whose vineyards lie just outside that appellation and thus cannot claim that coveted name on the label (or the resulting few extra quid on the price). Their loss is our gain because it’s a corkingly fine wine at a marvellous price. I love its elegance and taut minerality and, well, its sheer style, and I think you will too. £9.90 with the BSI, down from £10.95.
The pink 2014 Château la Tour de l’Évêque from Provence is very stylish too (4). A typical Provençal blend of hand–harvested organically cultivated Grenache and Cinsault with splashes of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Rolle (aka Vermentino), it’s Corney & Barrow’s house rosé. Since being a Wine of the Week it’s been flying off their shelves. I adore its vivacity and refreshing wild-strawberryness. And it’s adaptable too, being light enough to drink on its own and yet weighty enough to enjoy with grub. £9.90 with the BSI, down from £10.95.
Luis Felipe Edwards is one of Chile’s leading winemakers, and the wines from his family-owned estates enjoy a sterling reputation. He and Corney & Barrow have recently joined forces and come up with an enviably accessible and well-priced range of wines, of which the 2014 Casa Felipe Carmenère (5) from Chile’s Central Valley is the first example. Rich, spicy fruit such as plums, damsons and blackberries are well to the fore, with subtle hints of chocolate and even black coffee flitting about in the background. It’s real barbecue fare and I gulped it down. £6.63 with BSI, down from £7.50.
I didn’t set out to choose two reds from Chile but having been seduced by the above, I just couldn’t resist the 2013 Pinot Noir Reserva Viña Mar (6) as well. From the Casablanca Valley’s boutique Viña Mar winery, it’s Corney & Barrow’s best-selling everyday Pinot by far and even Mrs Ray, who’s a terrific Pinot Noir snob, gave it a double thumbs up and a wide grin. It’s gloriously soft and juicy with tantalising sour cherry flavours and a long silken, slightly spicy finish. Fantastic value at £9.48 BSI, down from £10.50.
As ever, delivery is free to mainland UK on all orders of a case or above.
To view all other offers, visit new.spectator.co.uk/wine-club.