Jonathan Ray Jonathan Ray

How wrong can I be?

Jonathan Ray reckons size matters and finds himself wrong footed by the supermarkets.

So there I was at my birthday supper. Marina, bless her, had done all the grub and I’d done the wine. We had 20 folk round the table, some keen on their wine and some keen on, well, just drinking. Indeed, the ones with the most highly polished drinking boots seemed pretty indifferent as to what it was exactly that they drank so long as they drank something.

We started with a selection of fine English fizz that I had amassed during my whistle-stop tour of the wineries of West Sussex and Surrey (see Browsing and Sluicing…) and excellent they were too. We can finally bury the notion that English sparkling wine is second to champagne. The bottles of Ambriel, Tinwood, Upperton and Denbies really did hit the spot.

We had some apricotty, quincey, peachy 2012 Foxwood Vineyards Chenin Blanc from South Africa with our first course, bought from the current Berry Bros & Rudd/Spectator Wine Club offer. It’s a deliciously honeyed and creamy wine, hand-picked and barrel-fermented and it went down a storm round the table, as much with the dedicated drinkers as with the wine lovers. ‘Oi, got any more of that whatever-it-was-white?’

With the main course we had double magnums of 2010 Château Argadens – part of the fabled Sichel stable – from fromvineyardsdirect and I’m thrilled to report that they caused just the sort of stir I was hoping for. They looked really majestic on the table and I thoroughly enjoyed swanking about and showing them off. I was also happy to wax lyrical about the fact that size does, after all, matter immensely. The two vast bottles were a noble statement of intent and there’s no question that fine Bordeaux – or almost anything for that matter – tastes better from a larger bottle (less air to more wine, slower maturation and so on).

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