Recognising that most wine drinkers buy their wines in supermarkets, this column doesn't indulge in gratuitous supermarket-bashing.
That said, The Bunch, which represent six of the country's established independent wine merchants, consistently demonstrate that they, and many other independents, are often leagues ahead of the supermarkets when it comes to exploring new territory, quality, and occasionally even on value. So let the Pandora's box open.
Berry Bros & Rudd might not be your first port of call for Mediterranean adventure, but in the 2012 Perricone, Porta del Vento, Sicily, £14.95, it's unearthed a distinctivered full of sweet and sour cherry fruit with barbera-like bite. And the grand Corney & Barrow shipping in a Sicilian red at £7.50? Yes, indeed, the 2012 Il Barroccio is much more than decent quaffing rosso and has a juicy, herb and plum-laden quality. Adnams too had a gluggy red on show, a succulently plummy bright damsony 2011 Cala NI Bodega Tineddo, Vino de la Tierra, La Mancha, £7.99.
It's good to see Croatia featured in the BBR range, too, in the form of the 2011 Mateo Vicelic, Dingac, from the Peljesac Peninsula, £25, whose powerfully smooth, sweet dark cherry and plum flavours retain the freshness breezing in to the Adriatic hillsides. Sardinia gets a look in with the 2011 Vin de Corse Porto Vecchio, Domaine de Torraccia, £13.95, Yapp Wines, a sumptuous red full of cherry and strawberry fruit in a pinot noir-y vein. Yet more Mediterranean marvels in Yapp's peach and honey dry white, the 2011 Château Simone, Palette, £36.
Unusual bubbles were on the agenda, as well, and in the Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, Domaine de la Croix Montjoie, BBR has discovered a delicately fresh and creamy fizz with lots of marshmallow tones – a bargain at £17.50. While those who've discovered the joys of English sparkling rosé can take their ambitions a step further with a toasty, rich, cranberry Ambriel Rosé Brut from the Outhwaites' West Sussex Redfold Vineyards, £28.95, Lea & Sandeman. Or else try a biscuity Cape sparkler with appley bite in the form of Villion Blanc de Blancs, Viljoensdrift, £13.70, Tanners.
What is the best I tried? From Lea & Sandeman, a super-elegant 2012 Rosso di Montalcino, Fuligni, £22.95, all smooth cherries and strawberries. From Tanners, a 2003 Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet, Daniel Dafaix, £29.90, with a pleasing purity and tensile mineral content. While Corney delivered with the concentrated stonefruit flavours of the 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Tardieu-Laurent, £35.25.
And this was just an autumn snapshot, with the promise of more, much more, to come.Reuse content