Episode 81 – 13th October 2021
I attended two of the High Street’s big winter wine tastings yesterday, and here are four wines that you really ought to buy asap. Warning: I will be writing these wines up in my national columns in the coming weeks, so please do not delay if you want to get in before the hordes descend.
NV Morrisons, The Best Premier Cru Champagne, France (£21.00, available now).
There will be an almighty tussle on the High Street this Christmas for Champagne Supremacy, and at this £20-mark I cannot, hand on heart, recommend any of the budget English Sparklers and so cheap Champagne will be a focus.
Most are dire, as you would expect, but this amazing wine, made by Champagne Louis Kremer, is a delight. Majoring on Pinot Meunier, which helps its juiciness and approachability, this is a classy wine with enough flair and intrigue to keep even the most fastidious Champagne bore satiated. You will have to be quick to be confident of securing stock of this wine.
2020 Taste the Difference Gaillac Blanc, France (£8.00, available now, 455 stores, Sainsbury’s).
Back in the early 90s, I was desperate to find a pair of House Wines for Bibendum Restaurant’s wine list, and despite tasting every cheapie I could find I simply could not unearth anything that was remotely delicious enough for this important job. In my opinion, House Wines ought to represent the character and class of the establishment, a Vin du Patron in effect, as opposed to just being the least expensive wine on the list. Nothing in the UK fitted this bill, and so I travelled to France to make my own blends.
I called this pair of wines L’Aventure – the adventure – and I stuck an owl on the label (an early adopter of ‘critter’ branding)! I sourced them from Gaillac, and the white was made from the little-known grapes Loin de l’oeil and Mauzac. This Sainsbury’s white is an absolute facsimile of my lovely little Aventure. Clean, bright, wistful and refreshing, it is a simple wine but one with innocence, joy and bounce on the palate, and it has one of the most refreshing and cleansing finishes I have found this autumn. It will be performing House Wine duties, chez Jukes, over the next few weeks, too!
2020 Taste the Difference Brouilly Château de Pierreux, Beaujolais, France (£11.00, available now, Sainsbury’s).
This wine is set to be the finest value red of the entire autumn/winter season. While I have a few thousand wines still to chew through I cannot believe that anything will beat this celestial Brouilly. Strangely enough, when I was planning my 50th a few years ago and had to decide upon a few epic wines to pour for my guests, I chose a Brouilly from this very same property. If that doesn’t underpin just how amazing this wine is, then nothing will. The fact that Sainsbury’s has managed to join forces with this eminent estate and keep the price down to an embarrassingly low level (I paid an awful lot more for my cuvée) is a genuine must-buy bottle. There is even some oak involved here, so this is not your everyday Bojo, but a thrilling red Burgundy with more panache and swagger that you can believe.
NV Cockburns No.1 Special Reserve Port, Portugal (£12.00, available now, Morrisons).
The Symington family has been throwing everything, including the kitchen sink at Cockburns over the last few years, and it is evident in this outstanding wine that their efforts have paid off handsomely. This is a spectacular wine. It is not an easy-drinking, juicy, Christmas-drinker, amateur-Port-style of wine but a grand, sweeping, noble, intense and expert-palate style of wine. Please do take my word for it – this is as good as it gets, and the value afforded here is insane. Deep, detailed, savagely serious and also immensely long, I will be singing this wine’s praises at every available opportunity. Do not delay in grabbing all you need for the festivities later in the year because I have a feeling that, given the much-trumpeted supply-chain issues we are currently experiencing, keen punters will be loading up with the finest wines earlier this year than ever before.