Forget the blasted Advent calendars and the vile tat in the shops, it’s the time-honoured festive offer with Corney & Barrow which tells us that Christmas is really on its way. And hurrah for that! No, not Christmas, silly, we could all do without that, I mean hurrah for the offer, which is nigh on indispensable.
As always, we concentrate on C&B’s own-label wines because they’re so darn good and such remarkable value, produced to Corney’s exacting standards by some of the finest producers in the business. I love these wines.
The C&B Blanc de Blancs Extra Dry (1) is an old favourite and I don’t know how they do it for the price. A bonkers blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Jacquère, drawn from vineyards across France, it’s produced using the champagne method by Varichon et Clerc — part of the Boisset family group. It’s aged on the lees for 12 months and although light, lively and refreshing, it’s also slightly creamy and toasty. You could buy a discount super-market’s bargain-basement champagne and wince with each sip or you could buy this and not stop grinning. Just saying. £12.56 down from £13.95.
The 2020 C&B Périgord (1) is a dry white bordeaux in all but name (and all but price), being a classic half-and-half blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon produced by the Cuisset family at Ch. Grinou in the Dordogne. Fresh, citrusy, herbal and honeyed, it’s both organic and biodynamic and makes a perfect light aperitif or crowd-pleasing party wine. £8.96 down from £9.95.
The 2019 C&B Burgundy Mâcon--Villages (3) is the latest vintage of a wine that’s been made for Corney’s for over 20 years by brothers Jean-Pierre and Michel Auvigue in the Mâconnais. Using old-vine Chardonnay from vineyards around Chaintré, Vinzelles and Milly-Lamartine, it’s fermented in steel and bottled after six months. Fresh, clean, with apple and citrus and a whisper of cream on the palate, it’s spot on. £13.05 down from £14.50.
The 2018 C&B Rioja Crianza (4) is produced by Bodegas Zugober in Rioja Alavesa from Tempranillo and splashes of Graciano and Mazuelo. After 14 months in oak and six months in bottle, it’s soft, succulent, spicy and full of plums, damsons and cherries. So darn easy is it to drink that while Mrs Ray and I were pondering what to eat alongside it, we realised we’d finished the bottle. Hey ho. £10.76 down from £11.95.
The 2018 C&B Company Reserve Claret (5) is similarly approachable. Made by the Sichel family (of Chx Palmer and Angludet fame) in cahoots with the Corney & Barrow buying team, it’s Right Bank claret from a corking vintage. Merlot-dominant, it’s juicy and jammy, with plenty of fresh, ripe red’n’dark hedgerow fruit, a hint of spice and fine tannins. It’s fantastic value. £12.83 down from £14.25.
If you want to stick with claret but fancy trading up a notch, then look no further than the 2018 C&B St Emilion Grand Cru (6), a cracker produced at Ch. Bellevue Figeac, a sweet spot where St Emilion and Pomerol meet. Again, Merlot governs the blend and after more than a year in new and old oak, it’s ready to go but still has room to improve. With rich, ripe, juicy dark fruit, spice and even hints of liquorice and dark chocolate, it’s mouth-fillingly fine and something to savour. £17.33 down from £19.25.
Finally, as a festive treat, we include a case of six containing two absolute bankers: the 2018 Domaines Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé, a cracking white burgundy from one of the region’s most revered producers, and the 2015 l’Hospitalet de Gazin, second wine of Ch. Gazin itself, neighbour of mighty Petrus. They’re both gorgeously drinkable.
The Festive Treat case comprises three bottles each of the two wines detailed above. There is also a sample case with two bottles each of wines 1-6. Delivery, as ever, is free.