Summer’s taking its leave and we have a fine Gallic half-dozen from Corney & Barrow with which to enjoy the last of the sun. And to cheer us up, we have a double discount on offer, the initial price-lopping enhanced by the fabled Brett-Smith Indulgence, in which a further £6 is knocked off a case if you buy two dozen bottles or more.
We start with the 2015 Corney & Barrow Blanc (1), the most recent vintage of the merchant’s bestselling white wine, beloved of Spectator readers. Produced by Producteurs Plaimont in Gascony, in close cahoots with Corney & Barrow’s buyers, it’s a lemon-fresh, zesty and exuberant blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc given a touch of extra weight thanks to a short period on the lees. It makes the perfect crowd-pleasing picnic wine or aperitif. £6.63 a bottle with the Brett-Smith Indulgence, £7.13 without, down from the current list price of £7.50.
The 2014 Les Fosses d’Hareng Vouvray (2) is a joy. I love Chenin Blanc, which in the right hands — as here — positively sings in the glass. With the structure and texture of Chardonnay and the vibrancy and freshness of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin at its best is unbeatable. Sad to say, I’ve had a couple of duffers of late, so fell upon this beauty with open arms. Dry to off-dry, it’s full of peach, pear and custard apple flavours, a whisper of toast and honey and a hint of something savoury on the finish. There’s weight and body too and fine acidity — it’s extremely drinkable. £10.66 with the Indulgence, £11.16 without, down from £11.75.
The 2015 La Muse de Cabestany Rosé (3) is a little gem from the heart of Minervois in the Languedoc exclusive to Corney & Barrow, blended from Grenache and Syrah with an added splash of aromatic Cinsault. It’s a beautiful colour, the price is ridiculously low and with creamy summer fruit on both nose and palate, plus a handy screw cap, it’s a hip-wiggling wine for knocking back with abandon. Forget your woes and enjoy. £7.05 with the Indulgence, £7.55 without, down from £7.95.
The 2015 Corney & Barrow Rouge (4) is another old favourite from the house range. A blend of old vine Carignan, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s made especially for Corney & Barrow by the Celliers Jean d’Alibert, a long-established and much garlanded co-operative in central Languedoc. Early-morning harvesting, cool fermentation and semi-carbonic maceration result in a deliciously soft and spicy red, fresh and juicy with a surprisingly long finish. It’s a little charmer. £6.63 a bottle with the Indulgence, £7.13 without, down from the list price of £7.50.
The 2012 Chartron la Fleur (5) is a claret of quite some style (and pretty decent bottle-age) made by the 200-year-old family firm of Schroder and Schyler négociants in Bordeaux. Blended from two thirds Merlot and one third Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Entre-Deux-Mers, it’s smooth and supple in the mouth with blackcurrants and mulberries, a touch of warming spice and a long savoury finish. It’s immensely appealing, and marvellous value at well under a tenner. £8.95 with the Indulgence, £9.45 without, down from £9.95.
Finally, the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Guillaume Belle (6), a no–nonsense, organic 100 per cent Syrah of top quality from the Northern Rhône. It’s peppery and spicy with marvellous depth of earthy flavour lurking behind the initial hit of damsons, plums, blueberries and even dark chocolate. It’s still young, of course, with a long life ahead of it, but the tannins are so soft and the fruit so ripe that it’s very drinkable now. Crozes-Hermitage is often regarded as poor man’s Hermitage: this, I promise, is anything but. £13.70 with the Indulgence, £14.20 without, down from £14.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.
To order please call 020 7265 2470