Wednesday Wines – Episode 1

To kick this initiative off I am throwing in an extra wine, so here is a white, rosé and red for your attention.

2016 Côtes du Rhône, E. Guigal, Rhône, France (£12.79, reduced to £9.59 until 14th April,  

There will be some of you who will think this a lazy recommendation – of course, this is a decent wine, it has always been reliable, it’s a solid name, the price is not too dear etc.  I would agree with you that this would be a lazy selection if I wrote this hearty red up every vintage, but I don’t.  I taste it every year and sometimes it presses a few of the right buttons but doesn’t quite warrant a write-up.  Other times it falls a little short – decent, honest, chunky and accurate, but not enough flair to win a place in a column.  But in a vintage like 2016, it soars and brings serious depth of spice and warmth under a complex and rewarding wild berry core.  When I taste a vintage like this, and a retailer introduces a decent discount, in this case bringing this wine in under a tenner, I want to tell every single one of my followers.  So, don’t delay in ordering this wonderful wine.  The ‘shelves’ have been ravaged by online shoppers loading up with booze recently but Waitrose assures me that there is still decent stock of this heroic red wine.

2019 Château Saint Baillon, Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France (£132.00 for a case of 12 bottles – £11.00 each,

Saint Baillon is the finest value wine in the elite Provençal rosé constellation.  This is not a tutti frutti, powderpuff or candyfloss style of wine designed to appeal to the masses with its honeydew melon and raspberry tones.  By contrast, Saint Baillon is a focussed, Ninja-like, take-no-prisoners creation.  For a start, it is not even rosé in colour.  If you look closely through the bottle you will see an unmistakable steely pink hue.  This is as far removed from coral pink as one could get.  This is not the bottle’s own glass refracting softer, confected tones away and presenting you with an altered image, because when you pour this wine into your glass it assumes the same unblinking, super-composed stance.  This colour is only seen twice in the world.  In this very wine and also when a gunmetal steel Bentley speeds up the Saint Baillon driveway at harvest time.  You must avoid being showered in gravel as it slides to a halt and then look closely at its flanks.  At that very moment, the sun glints off its chassis while an imperceptible haze of Grenache juice, atomised from pickers’ baskets lays, mist-like, on the sleek bodywork.  This is the only other time you will see the steel-pink colour of Saint Baillon.  Its flavour is not dissimilar to its visual cues either.  Upright, nervy, cool and stiletto-sharp, this is a wine for sophisticated drinkers.  There is nothing pulpy, chubby or fruit-salady about Saint Baillon.   This is a wine for foodies, a wine with bitterness and chic.  It can be drunk at great speed as an aperitif or in slo-mo with mountains of fruits de mer.  Either way, as we are all most likely to be stuck in the UK this summer, this wine gives us one sure-fire way of getting our palates to the Riviera, even if our bodies might still be lounging in our gardens, in just one sip.  I will see you there.

2018 Seresin, Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand (£20.50,

I met up with Michael Seresin, world-famous cinematographer and wine pioneer, the other day and I was moved to write up one of his wines in my weekly MoneyWeek column.  You will be able to read about it on 10th April both in the magazine and also on my website.  I didn’t have enough space in this article to mention all of the wines, so here is a scintillating beauty which I am delighted to mention here.  NZ Chardonnay is a hugely underrated discipline and while most wine lovers will be familiar with Kumeu River’s wines there are not many other estates who wear this variety on their sleeve.  Michael, and his winemaker Tamra Kelly-Washington, make Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and also an aromatic white blend and they are all strong.  Of course, Pinot is the focus, but I know that Michael has a secret Chardy up his sleeve and he really loves this grape as this estate wine shows.  It is important to compare the price and flavour of this wine to everything else in the world – a rather large comparison, I know!  I really do think that this is a world-class creation and it is exactly the sort of wine you should have in your cellar somewhere between the Chablis and the Adelaide Hills Chardonnays.  It is beautifully creamy and smooth with little obvious oak interference and there is an organic/biodynamic honesty here which gives it a cool and calm outlook.  This is remarkably sensitive winemaking and I know that this will appeal to everyone who gets stuck into my annual Burgundy Report such is the poise and integrity on display here.

Every Wednesday, during this extraordinary ‘lockdown’ period, I will select one wine under a tenner and one wine over a tenner that I think offer particular value for money and also a huge amount of joy on both the nose and palate.  These two wines are designed to lift your mood while we are all confined to our homes.   Each of the merchants featured during this series is able to deliver to your doorstep, so you should be able to order easily and receive the wines without too much delay.

I hope that you enjoy this bonus feature on!  It’s the very least I can do to keep my readers topped up with excellent wines.  As always, I will only feature wines which I adore and which also represent terrific value for money.

Stay safe.

Best wishes, Matthew