We’re with my alma mater Berry Bros & Rudd this week featuring some of their excellent own selection wines. I was quite bowled over by their quality, as indeed I was by the generosity of wine director Mark Pardoe’s discounts.
In fact I strongly recommend you start your festive stockpiling right here, right now. Why wait until the week before Christmas to buy Berrys’ scrumptious own selection red burgundy for £16.50 when you can buy it from this page right now for £13.95?
Not all fine fizz comes from Champagne. Nope, some of it still comes from where it all started: Limoux in southern France where, in 1531, the monks of Saint Hilaire Abbey are believed to have created the first sparkling wine. The Berry Bros. & Rudd Crémant de Limoux NV (1) is about as good an example as I remember. A blend of Chardonnay (mainly), Mauzac and Chenin Blanc, it’s made in cahoots with Berrys’ by Françoise Antech, the sixth generation of her family to make wine. It’s crisp yet creamy and rounded and beautifully honeyed. There’s plenty of lively ripe fruit, too, and I’m not surprised to hear that it’s one of Berrys’ bestsellers. And for those to whom such things matter, I must add that the bottle looks very pukka. £9.45 down from £11.95.
The 2015 BBR White Burgundy (2), produced by Jean-Luc Terrier and Christian Collovray in the Mâconnais, is gloriously drinkable. A wonderful warm summer allowed picking to start early and there is freshness and ripeness galore here with peaches, blossom and honey and just that tiny touch of vanilla. I couldn’t stop gulping it down. £9.95 down from £11.95.
It turns out that the 2015 BBR New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (3) is made by my old chum from Oddbins and, later, Berrys’ days, Sam Weaver, with his wife Mandy at Churton winery in Marlborough. The 22-hectare single vineyard is entirely organic/-biodynamic and in 2015 one block of it was turned over to Berrys’ especially to produce this cracking wine. It’s vibrantly fresh, with typical but not overwhelming notes of gooseberry, cut grass and passion fruit. Indeed, it’s remarkably restrained by Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc standards and all the better for it. £11.75 down from £13.95.
I’ve recommended the 2015 BBR Provence Rosé (4) elsewhere before and am delighted to do so here since I absolutely love it. A beguiling salmon pink, it’s a blend of Cinsault and Grenache made in the heart of the Côtes de Provence at Château la Mascaronne (whose owner, Tom Bove, famously sold nearby Château Miraval in 2012 to what was then still Brangelina). With spicy ripe fruit — think cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries — and a gentle but refreshing acidity this is a rosé of real class. £10.95 down from £12.95.
The 2014 BBR Côtes du Rhône (5) has an impeccable pedigree, coming as it does from la famille Perrin, who own Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A blend of Grenache (70 per cent), Syrah and Mourvèdre, it’s wonderfully succulent, luscious and concentrated with plums, liquorice, spice and vanilla and a strikingly long finish. Simple Côtes du Rhône is rarely as fine as this. £8.95 down from £10.75.
Finally, the 2012 BBR Red Burgundy (6), produced by the celebrated Nicolas Potel. Soft and mellow with ripe, upfront, almost New World-like red and black fruit and a teasing savoury finish, it’s a beauty. As Mark Pardoe explained, Berrys’ don’t bother trying to find ‘inexpensive’ red burgundy: it isn’t worth the effort or the money. Instead they find treats like this: real Côte de Beaune style and quality with a smattering of old vines and some declassified village wines in the mix. £13.95 down from £16.50.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.
Simon Hoggart’s Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine, revised and updated by Jonathan Ray, is out now.