Mark Pardoe MW, the wine-buying director of Berry Bros. & Rudd, has a touching fondness for The Spectator. Either that or his maths is terrible. He shows me some excellent wines, all of which I love. I narrow them down to six and ask whether he might see his way to knocking a few quid off. I suggest a figure and he quadruples it — the discount, that is, not the price. I’m not a great haggler but I thought the way it worked was for the customer to ask for the world and the merchant to give away peanuts, not the other way around.
Anyway, the result is that all the wines have socking great discounts. Mark insisted that each bottle should have the same price (£9.95), meaning that he then had to lop a full seven quid off one wine, six quid off another and so on. The mixed case costs £119.40, down from Berrys’ list price of £174.50. That’s what I call a bargain.
First, we have the barrel-fermented 2012 Foxwood Vineyards Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape. I love Chenin Blanc, one of the most versatile of all grapes and the most widely planted in South Africa. Here, in the hands of winemaker Matthew Krone, it’s been crafted into a deliciously honeyed and creamy wine, full of quince, apricots and citrus with just the tiniest touch of savouriness at the very end of the crisp finish. £9.95 down from £14.95.
The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc II, Von Winning, is a delightful curiosity: a Sauvignon Blanc from Deidesheim in the heart of the Pfalz region of Germany. This is Riesling country, of course, and Sauvignon Blanc has no business being here, except that the conditions suit it perfectly. It’s more Kiwi than Loire, but with a minerality and — did I imagine it? — a hint of Riesling petrol among the tropical notes, cut grass, green apples and gooseberries. Either way, it’s crisp, clean, dry, rounded and thrillingly refreshing. £9.95 down from £16.95.
The 2014 Petit Chablis, Les Allées du Domaine, Domaine d’Henri is a focused, steel-fermented Chardonnay from Michel Laroche, who’s been making wine in Chablis for almost 50 years and whose family has owned vines here since 1695. The wine sees no oak and the fruit does the talking, all finesse and elegance. It’s bone-dry, of course, with whistle-clean keen acidity, making it a perfect aperitif. £9.95 down from £13.50.
The wines of Beaujolais are firmly back on song and sales that once plummeted are now rocketing. Producers from Burgundy and the Rhône, priced out of their respective regions, are flocking to make wine here as wine lovers rediscover their taste for the succulent, bitter cherry, slightly spicy, versatile wines of the region. The 2014 Beaujolais Villages, from Alexandre Burgaud in Latignié — the sweet spot for Beaujolais Villages — is a cracker and very drinkable indeed. £9.95 down from £10.95.
The 2013 Old Plains Longhop Shiraz from the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia is another that simply demands to be knocked back. A hand-picked, low-yielding old-vine Shiraz, open-fermented and aged in old American and French oak, it’s affable and embracing with buckets of ripe blackberry, blueberry, fig and damson fruit, a touch of pepper and a warm chocolatey finish. It’s not exactly subtle (and it’s a punchy 14.5% alcohol by volume), but slips down soooo easily and has plenty of bang for not much buck. £9.95 down from £14.95.
Finally, something I’ve never knowingly drunk before: a wine from the Isola dei Nuraghi, better-known as the Island of Sardinia. Made from Carignano (yep, Carignan), the 2013 Nerominiera, Enrico Esu comes from Sardinia’s south-west near a disused coal mine — Nerominiera. I thoroughly enjoyed its rich, boisterous and intense dark fruit, herb-tinged flavours and think you will too. £9.95 down from £15.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.