I’ve been banished upstairs. Mrs Ray has turned our ground floor into an art gallery in which to show her and her friends’ paintings, prints and pottery during Brighton’s annual Artists Open Houses, and I’ve been told not to come down and talk to visitors ‘or otherwise spoil things’. What can she mean?
So it is that I sit in my lonely eyrie with just my thoughts and my bottles as company. I foolishly left the spittoon downstairs so the delectable selection supplied by Corney & Barrow for this offer left me merrier than usual and more indecisive too. Indeed, so tricky was it to whittle the wines down that we’ve ended up with nine rather than six, so I’d better get cracking.
The Corney & Barrow Sparkling Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (1) is here for the umpteenth time because it’s just so tasty and such a blooming bargain. Produced in the champagne method by Varichon et Clerc, using a crazy mix of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Jacquère aged for 12 months on the lees, it’s fresh, aromatic, lively, creamy, toasty and inviting. Delicious on its own, it’s perfect for champagne cocktails when champagne itself would be de trop. £12.56 down from £13.95.
The 2021 Mucchietto Fiano (2) from the Pasqua family in Puglia, in the ‘heel’ of Italy, is as easy-going as can be. Cold-fermented and aged on the lees, it’s ready to go the moment it’s bottled. With hints of citrus, peach and almonds, it has a nice touch of honeyed weight to it plus a deliciously refreshing finish. £9.86 down from £10.95.
The 2020 Domaine de l’Epine ‘Une Promesse’ Quincy (3) is from one of the leading ladies of the Loire: Elodie Vilpellet, who gave her late father une promesse that she would continue to develop their vineyards and keep the show on the road. Made from low-yielding Sauvignon Blanc grown on the banks of the Cher, it’s creamy, supple and succulent, full of restrained tropical fruit and zingy citrus. I’ve spent more on Sancerre that I’ve enjoyed less. £14.36 down from £15.95.
The 2021 Ch. la Tour de l’Evêque Rosé (4) is an organic blend of eight different varieties, too lengthy to list here. Suffice to say it’s everything a fine Côtes de Provence rosé should be: an engaging pale pink, full of fresh, exuberant wild red berry fruit and a hint of spicy herbs on the long creamy finish. It’s perfect. £12.83 down from £14.25.
The 2019 Tunella Pinot Nero (5) from the Zorzettig family in the Colli Orientali del Friuli, in Italy’s far north-east, is a Pinot Noir of real style at a giveaway price. Following alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel, the wine spends several months in oak, leaving it fresh, ripe, juicy and spicy with lots of vibrant wild cherry fruit. £12.56 down from £13.95.
The 2019 Bodega Ruca Malen Terroir Series Malbec (6) from high in the Andes foothills of Mendoza, is something of a contrast, being dark, brooding and concentrated, not to mention whoppingly high in alcohol. But it’s so expertly balanced that it gives nothing but plummy, liquorice-rich, violet-scented pleasure. It’s one for the barbecue. £12.56 down from £13.95.
Finally three top-end corkers (7) that I simply couldn’t resist including as a separate add-on. With two bottles each of the 2018 Passobianco – a stunning, high altitude, unoaked Chardonnay from the slopes of Mount Etna – the 2019 Domaine Labruyère ‘Coeur de Terroirs’ Moulin-à-Vent – one of the richest, juiciest, most concentrated and most downright satisfying Beaujolais I’ve had the pleasure of necking – and the 2015 Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino – a remarkable Sangiovese, named one of Tuscany’s finest wines when awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso last year – this really is a ‘Super Six’ to savour. £175 down from £203.10.
The mixed case has two bottles each of wines 1-6 and delivery, as ever, is free.