Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 23 November

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At dinner the other night, our host spotted a well-priced magnum of fizz on the list and beckoned the sommelier. Alas, it turned out the magnums were no more, the last one having been sold two nights previously.

‘Oh dear,’ sighed my chum. ‘I guess we’d better have it by the half-magnum, then, and see how we get on.’

Well, it won’t surprise you to learn that we got on just fine and ended up having two half-magnums.

The fact is that magnums are a real treat, the ideal size for wine lovers, especially at this time of year with parties galore and friends dropping by unexpectedly. So it is that Corney & Barrow here offer a couple of great-value examples which I heartily endorse. And for those who prefer their wines in half-magnums, we’ve some of those too, including some excellent fizz. And a six pack of magnums and a case of sparkling on standby sounds like good festive planning to me. Oh, and do take advantage of the Brett-Smith Indulgence, whereby C&B’s MD, Adam Brett-Smith, knocks a few quid off for anyone buying two cases or more, on top of our special Speccie discount.

The 2018 C&B Côtes de Gascogne Blanc (1) is ideal festive fare: cheap, tasty and light in alcohol (just 10.5% vol). A blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc from the excellent Producteurs Plaimont co-operative, it’s fresh and zesty, dry to off-dry and extremely quaffable. £7.05 with the Brett-Smith Indulgence, £7.55 without, down from £7.95.

The 2018 C&B Périgord Blanc (2), a 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon blend from Bergerac, is deliciously characterful with creamy citrus notes and a long, rounded finish. Indeed, coming from the highly regarded, family-owned Château Grinou in Monestier, it’s almost indistinguishable from fine white Bordeaux, albeit a fraction of the price. £8.53 (or £9.03, down from £9.50).

The 2018 C&B White Burgundy (3) is a very toothsome Mâcon-Villages produced by brothers Jean-Pierre and Michel Auvigue in Charnay-lès Mâcon. Made from 100 per cent Chardonnay (of course), it’s cool--fermented and bottled in the spring following the harvest. The wine sees no oak and is delectably fresh, lemony and ripe. £13.04 (or £13.54, down from £14.25). Magnums: £27.45 (or £28.45, down from £29.95).

The 2016 C&B Rioja Crianza (4) is a blend of Tempranillo with dashes of Mazuelo and Graciano from Bodegas Zugober in Rioja Alavesa. It spends 14 months in oak and six months in bottle and is just what you might expect, being full of plummy dark fruit, a touch of spice and a whiff of vanilla. £10.85 (or £11.35, down from £11.95). Magnums: £23.32 (or £24.32, down from £25.60).

The 2017 C&B Côtes du Rhône Rouge (5) is spot on. A Syrah/Cinsault/Grenache blend from Vignobles Gonnet, it’s as decent an example of this oft-maligned category as you’ll find. Soft, juicy and faintly spicy, it’s fresh and vibrant and very easygoing. £10.85 (or £11.35, down from £11.95).

The 2015 C&B Company Reserve Claret (6) is from the Sichels, those masters of Bordeaux blending. Merlot-rich, with touches of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot for colour, backbone and structure, it’s full of dark bramble fruit, leather, liquorice and spice. £12.75 (or £13.25, down from £13.95).

Finally, to help you get through the 12 days of Christmas as effervescently as possible, we are offering 12 half-magnums of the superb C&B Blanc de Blancs Extra Dry Sparkling Brut NV (7). A quirky blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Jacquère sourced from across France and vinified using the champagne method, it’s crisp, clean, creamy and toasty with an elegantly fine mousse and the most stylish of finishes. £12.33 (or £12.83, down from £13.50).

The mixed case has two bottles of each still wine, while the fizz is offered by the unmixed dozen and the magnums by the unmixed half-dozen. Delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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