We’ve not had an offer from my alma mater Berry Bros & Rudd for yonks, almost a year in fact, and I’m delighted to see them back in these pages with a really very tasty selection of wines. And just for a change, they are offering a six-bottle case this time rather than the more usual 12-bottle case. Unfortunately, since the wines are in such short supply, they are only available in the mixed box, and cannot be bought individually. Needless to say, if you fancy a full mixed dozen then simply sign up for two cases. The wines are darn good and keenly discounted, so I strongly recommend that you do. Indeed, in selling the box at £75 all in, Berrys have very generously snipped £7.30 off the selection’s list price and are also waiving their customary £7.50 delivery charge, thereby saving readers almost £15.
The 2016 Raphaël Midoir, Sauvignon de Touraine (1) comes from Domaine de Bellevue in the village of Chémery in the heart of the Loire Valley. M. Midoir is a fifth-generation vigneron and his low-yield, old-vine wines are much sought after. This example is fresh, lively and citrusy and surprisingly concentrated and I reckon it makes a pretty decent alternative to such grander and far pricier Loire Valley names as Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre. RRP £11.50.
Picpoul de Pinet (Picpoul’s the grape; Pinet, the town, not far from Mèze on the banks of the Bassin de Thau) has become something of a restaurant staple of late and while there are some extremely toothsome ones about, I’ve noticed a bit of dross creeping on to wine lists here and there. The 2016 Félines Jourdan, Picpoul de Pinet (2) is anything but dross, and I fair gulped it down. Owner/winemaker Claude Jourdan knows his stuff and this is as good a P. de P. as I’ve had in ages: crisp, clean and zesty with a deliciously salty freshness and just a hint of herbs. RRP £11.45.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the South African 2015 Tierhoek Piekeniers White Blend (3) when I first tried it. I mean, I really enjoyed it of course — it wouldn’t be in these pages if I didn’t — but I just couldn’t work out what it was made from, so richly complex was it. Turns out it’s a one-off Sauvignon/Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc blend of just 3,600 bottles. It’s full of peaches and pears and although dry on the finish, it has tantalising hints of creamy honey on both nose and palate. RRP £11.95.
The 2016 Le Grand Cros ‘L’Esprit de Provence’ (4) is the prettiest of pinks and truly mouthwatering. It’s also spot-on now that the Beasts from the East have retreated and the clocks have gone forward. Spring is here — hooray! — and fridges across the land should be groaning with bottles such as this. A classic Provençal blend of hand–harvested Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, it’s elegant and stylish and light enough to enjoy as an aperitif while also being weighty enough to enjoy with grub. Either way it’s darn tasty and as good a ‘grown-up’ rosé as you will find for the money. RRP £14.95.
Talking of weighty, the 2015 Longhop Cabernet Sauvignon (5), from the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia, has oomph in spades, and if you like big, bold, concentrated, cassis-rich reds then you will love it. Made from old vines planted by Italian immigrants immediately after the second world war, it’s a meaty, juicy wine full of bramble fruit and even a touch of dark chocolate on the finish. RRP £16.50.
Finally, by complete contrast, the 2016 Louis Claude Desvignes ‘La Voûte de Saint-Vincent’ Morgon (6), a deliciously nimble cru Beaujolais from the finest plots in the heart of Morgon. Made from 100 per cent Gamay — of course — it’s full of luscious, succulent briary fruit backed with a pretty fine acidity. It really is a cracker, almost thirst-quenching in its drinkability. RRP £15.95.
The mixed case, priced very keenly at £75 (down from an RRP of £82.30), has one bottle of each wine and delivery is free.