Jonathan Ray

February Wine Club | 19 February 2015

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Berry Bros & Rudd have done it again and come up with six fascinating wines at very generous prices. A couple are almost 25 per cent cheaper than on Berrys’ list and the mixed case is almost 20 per cent cheaper.

And it’s a quirky selection all right. Berrys might have one of the finest lists in the country when it comes to cru classé claret, grand cru burgundy and vintage champagne but, with an unparalleled eight Masters of Wine in the company, their expertise is much further-reaching than perhaps one might imagine, something which is demonstrated perfectly by the vino below.

First we have the 2013 De Martino Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (1) from the Casablanca Valley in Chile. De Martino owns almost 350 vineyards across the country and was deservedly named Chilean Winery of the Year in 2011. This example is full of cut grass, nettles, herbs and plenty of grapefruit. In terms of style, I’d say it sits almost halfway between the restraint of the Loire and the exuberance of New Zealand and it’s extremely appealing and deeply refreshing. £8.50 down from £9.85.

The 2013 Gavi di Gavi, Bric Sassi, Roberto Sarotto (2) from Piedmont in north west Italy is an old favourite of David Berry Green, Berrys’ Italian wine buyer, and I can quite see why. Made from hand-picked, whole-bunch-pressed, unblended Cortese from the highest part (‘bric’) of a stony (‘sassi’) single vineyard, it is vibrantly fresh with lots of peachy baked apple, stewed pear fruit alongside the rather zingier notes of lemon ’n’ lime. It’s also exceptional value with nearly three quid sliced off the RRP. £9.50 down from £12.35.

The 2011 Kumeu River Village Chardonnay (3) is from Auckland, New Zealand, and I’ve been a fan of the estate’s wines ever since I visited it some ten years ago. Michael Brajkovich, himself a Master of Wine — New Zealand’s first — is a supremely gifted winemaker and produces wines of real style and elegance. He is also one of the pioneers of screwcaps, not necessarily something which will endear him to Spectator readers, but it does mean that his wines are all about freshness and vivacity. This hand-picked, part oak-aged Chardonnay is silky soft and creamy, with hints of peach, hazelnuts and citrus. £12 down from £13.95.

The 2012 Crama Ceptura Feteascã Neagrã (4) from Romania was completely new to me, sourced by Martin Hudson MW, the Berrys buyer responsible ‘for some of the less obvious corners of the world’, as he puts it. Romania has a proud history of winemaking, of course, and I discover that Feteascã Neagrã (aka Black Maiden) is a well-established red grape variety there. The wine is oak-aged, rich and ripe with juicy plummy fruit and a spicy edge to it, perfect winter fare in fact. It’s different all right and quite delicious too. £7.75, down from £8.95.

The 2012 Alpamanta Natal Malbec (5) from Mendoza in Argentina seems much more mainstream by comparison, although it wasn’t so long ago that Argentine wines were something of a novelty here.

Malbec, a refugee from Cahors and Bordeaux, has really found its niche in the foothills of the Andes, where conditions suit it perfectly. This biodynamic and organic example is crammed with typical notes of damsons and violets and its notable concentration and intensity is lightened by that wonderful mountain freshness one finds in Mendozan wines. £11.50 down from £14.95.

Finally, the 2012 Secateurs Red Blend (6) from Swartland, South Africa, and maverick winemaker Adi Badenhorst. Crazy guy, crazy wine, blended from hand-picked bush-vine Shiraz and several other varieties too numerous to list (don’t worry, they’re on the label). I simply love it, just as I do Adi’s exquisite (and twice the price) Family White Blend, one of my all-time favourites. This is a bonkers blend, full of spicy, ripe, dark fruit. It’s completely moreish and definitely worth a punt at just £10.75, down from £12.75.

There’s a sample case containing two of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

All prices are correct at time of publication, but we may alter prices at any time for any reason.
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Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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