Simon Hoggart

Spectator Mini-Bar offer

For some reason I like to have a theme for our mini-bar offers, concentrating on a particular country, region or grower.

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For some reason I like to have a theme for our mini-bar offers, concentrating on a particular country, region or grower. I couldn’t think of one this time, but I did want to bring back Private Cellar, one of my favourite merchants, whose small team seems to have pretty unerring palates and who can nose out excellent wines at good prices. I suppose, faute de mieux, I could call this offer Old and New Classics.

The first new classic is Dr Ernst Loosen’s Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2006 (1) from the Pfalz area of Germany. This is unlike any German wine you have tried. For one thing it is not a Riesling. And it is stratospherically better than the thin, anaemic fluids sometimes made from Pinot Grigio (the grape’s Italian name). Instead it is rich and full and creamy. I served this to a friend. She burst into a huge, happy smile and exclaimed, ‘This is absolutely delicious!’ I have seen it a few times on the wine lists of the cannier London restaurants, except they ask three or four times our price of £6.96.

The older classic is a white Burgundy, a 2005 from the Domaine Matrot (2). There is a real depth of complexity and flavour to this; at £10.95 it’s not being given away, but it’s a whole lot cheaper than more famous names at a higher price. Let it breathe before you drink it: I’d take it out of the fridge at least half an hour early. If you can be bothered to decant it, so much the better.

The reds. Our new classic is the Ique Malbec 2006 (3). It’s rich and powerful, with a dark, heady taste of damsons and cherries. The owner of the property is Enrique Foster, who is Spanish but who lived in Britain for many years. He now wants to create the finest Malbec in Argentina. Given what’s already been achieved, that’s quite a tall order. But I’d say he’s getting there. Reduced to £7.48 a bottle.

Finally, an even more famous wine producer is Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix, whose most celebrated wine is Ch. Pétrus. Their Ch. La Tour Fonrazade 2004 (4) is a fine, well-structured claret, with the tempting softness of St Emilion, reflecting the Merlot in the mix. It is, of course, not as good as their leading wine, but since you could buy 100 bottles at £10.50 for the price of one bottle of Pétrus, you might feel it is better value.

Delivery, as ever, is free, and there is a mixed case containing three of each wine. There is also a discount of £4 per case on orders of three cases or more.