Jonathan Ray

February Wine Vaults

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We’re heading south for the winter this week, specifically to South Africa and New Zealand, courtesy of Tanners of Shrewsbury.

First to New Zealand, a country whose wines I adore. I’m not alone: we in the UK are New Zealand’s biggest market and happily spend more on each bottle of Kiwi wine than on wine from anywhere else other than France. New Zealand accounts for less than 1 per cent of the world’s total production, but it must all come here.

The 2014 Tummil Flat Sauvignon Blanc (1) from Marlborough is unmistakeably Kiwi, being full of ripe gooseberry, cut grass and nettle aromas. And it is just so drinkable with perfectly balanced fruit and acidity coupled with an exhilarating freshness. It’s absolutely spot on, beautifully made by Shropshire lad Sam Weaver, who’s long been lauded for the quality of his main label, Churton. £9.95 down from £10.50.

The sister wine, the 2011 Tummil Flat Pinot Noir (3), also from Marlborough, is this week’s bargain, with a full three quid off. And it’s scrumptious indeed, demonstrating perfectly just how well Pinot Noir shines in the Land of the Great White Cloud. It’s spicy and peppery with black cherry and damson notes and silky smooth tannins. Although full of fresh, ripe fruit there’s a welcome savoury touch to the finish and I found it extremely moreish. Serve at room temp or lightly chilled. Either way, it’s fantastic and just £9.95, down from £12.95.

And so to South Africa, of which Robert Boutflower of Tanners is a huge fan. ‘The wines are all about great flavour, zesty freshness and a sunny ripeness,’ he says as we browse and sluice: ‘Oh, and great prices.’

I can’t disagree, especially with a mouthful of 2013 Journey’s End ‘Haystack’ Chardonnay (2). It’s rich, ripe and buttery and has buckets of fruit kept in check with a firm acidity and judicious oak-ageing. And it’s utterly delicious. I’ve had it before, both here and in South Africa, and it never fails to make me smile. £10 down from £10.80.

The 2012 Journey’s End ‘The Pastor’s Blend’ (4) is similarly delicious, a soft, smooth and supple blend of oak-aged Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a tiny splash of Cabernet Franc. From coastal vineyards about halfway between Cape Town and Hermanus, it’s juicily fresh and extremely approachable. You’ll love it. £10 down from £10.80.

There’s a sample case containing three of each bottle 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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