Simon Hoggart

April Wine Club

Summer is almost upon us. Ah, the cancerous barbecue smoke drifting from next door’s garden, the stinking, sweaty trains and buses, the yobs with stomachs spilling over their shorts, the never-ending football season.

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Summer is almost upon us. Ah, the cancerous barbecue smoke drifting from next door’s garden, the stinking, sweaty trains and buses, the yobs with stomachs spilling over their shorts, the never-ending football season.

Sorry, didn’t mean that. It was very negative. What I meant to remind you of was the murmur of bees, the hum of gentle alfresco conversation in the sunshine, picnics under the dappled light of an apple tree, the scent of flowers and newly cut grass as dusk begins to fall. That’s what this offer is about. These are wines for summer, wines for those lovely days when you can eat every meal outdoors, when your guests come for lunch and mysteriously, sleepily, stay for supper. They are all from one of our favourite merchants, Hedley Wright of Bishop’s Stortford, where Justin Waples has reduced the price on every one. Naturally I think they are all delicious.

The Perelada Roc 2006 (1) from Spain is a real find, especially at a mere £5.99 (£6 a case off). It has depth, a fine aroma, and a whiff of flowers, lychees and nectarines.

Villa Wolf is a German winery, but not one that makes German wines, if you see what I mean. Your basic German Riesling doesn’t sell here any more. Partly it’s because they tend to be sweet, partly because Germany is paying the price for nasty, cheap branded wines that we drank as students and forswore when we got jobs. But this Pinot Gris 2006 (2) is a lovely wine — absolutely dry, but packed with fruit and zest and freshness. I saw it listed in a London restaurant the other day at £25; it’s yours for a quarter of that.

Now something new: two rosés in one offer. Rosé sales are up hugely: instead of the old thin, anaemic fluids, pink wines now tend to be made from red grapes, the skin left in the vat for a few hours or days. The result is that the wines have body and whoomph. They are perfect for hot days, since you get a wine that is served ice cold but is packed with bursting fruit. The Crios Rosé of Malbec 2006 (3) from Argentina is perhaps an extreme example, since the Malbec grape has one of the richest, deepest, almost blackest flavours you will find. Blackberries, blackcurrants, strawberries — it’s all there. And it slakes your summer thirst. Another 50p a bottle off.

The Taltarni Brut Taché 2004 (4) from Australia is a superlative sparkling wine. Taché means stained, in the sense that a little red has been added just for the colour; otherwise it’s made from the same grapes as Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It has tremendous depth and potency, partly because it is left on its lees for 18 months, the full complexity of all the grapes have had time to combine, and the bubbles are small, delicate and persistent. Pink Champagnes can be gorgeous, but cheaper ones tend to be thin and disappointing. Not this. Perfect at a drinks party for people you like a very great deal, and a snip — reduced by £2 a bottle.

La Copa 2005 (5) is a Spanish Tempra-nillo which is just amazing value. At under a fiver, it is luscious and smooth, bringing damsons, cherries and plums along. If you are going to have your own barbecue, this would go perfectly with the steaks, sausages, ribs — well, anything really. A tremendous discovery, and perfect for glugging in quantity. Another 50p off.

Finally for Château Musar fans, here is another Lebanese wine from the Bekaa Valley (which was the Roman home of Bacchus, the god of wine). The 2004 Massaya Classic (6) is less well known, but has the same velvety texture, and the characteristic scent of soft fruit, raisins and — appropriately — cedar. It’s also pleasantly light, so it’s perfect for outdoor summer drinking. Reduced by almost £9 per case.

There is a sample case, reduced by yet a further £3.50. Delivery, as ever, is free and there are substantial discounts for larger orders: take £10 off a total order of two cases, £20 off three, and £35 off four cases.

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