As consumers in search of a wide range of wines at low prices, we naturally tend to favour the ubiquitous big-name outlets. But the high-street chains can lack wines of greater interest and personality. And now that the Chancellor has brought the price down on wines over £8.80, what better time than in the run-up to Christmas to support your local independent merchants – and find some last-minute treats?
With 11 London shops between them, Lea & Sandeman and Jeroboams are two treasure troves of excellent wines, and here are two from each. The 2006 Pouilly Fuissé La Verchère Vieilles Vignes from Domaine Daniel Barruaud, £18.95, Lea & Sandeman (020-7244 0522; londonfinewine.co.uk) is a finely crafted, classic white burgundy. For the perfect ccompaniment to duck or game, the 2006 Rossi di Montalcino, Fuligni Ginestreto, £15.95, delivers the succulent cherry fruitiness of sangiovese with a cleansingly savoury, sour cherry bite to it. At Jeroboams (020-7730 8108; jeroboams.co.uk), my white of choice for a starter is the accomplished, smoky, gooseberryish 2006 Hunter's 'Kaho Roa' Sauvignon Blanc, £12.50, and the opulently juicy, raspberryish 2006 Beaune, Premier Cru Clos du Roi, Domaine Trapet, £24.95.
Still in London at Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900 4300; bbr.com) another glorious Pouilly-Fuissé in Eve & Michel Rey's 2006 Pouilly-Fuissé, Terroir de Fuissé, £21.50, is very modern in its expressive chardonnay fruit subtly framed by delicate toasty oak. For a stylish yet robust red that will stand up to turkey and all the trimmings – or indeed to Mark Hix's stuffed partridge (see page 44) – I suggest the 2005 Quinta de la Rosa Reserve Red, £22.95, from Portugal, a delicious modern red with plenty of blackberry richness and smooth fruit texture.
Head west to Great Western Wine in Bath (01225 322800; greatwesternwine.co.uk), for De Sousa Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Reserve, £30, is a wonderfully pure, appetising apéritif style from the Côte des Blancs, a pure chardonnay showing delicate biscuity aromas, seductively creamy-rich mousse and dry mineral aftertaste. For a versatile festive red, the 2006 Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein, an Aussie blend from Langhorne Creek, £9.80, is suitably opulent with a cherry and blackberry fruitiness. At Tanners in Shrewsbury (01743 234500; tanners-wines.co.uk), their 2005 Pinot Noir by Farr, £18.95, will make a fine fragrant alternative to red Burgundy, and the 2006 Helmut Lang Chardonnay Beereneauslese, £9.90, half-bottle, a lusciously peachy-fresh alternative to Sauternes with blue cheese.
Further north, at Adnams (01502 727222; adnams.co.uk), their 2006 Christian Auney Château Le Chec, £9.75, is classic Graves from Bordeaux, and the robust, dark berry fruitiness of the 2007 Mas Laval Les Pampres, Vin de Pays de l'Hérault, £9.99, will keep the home fires burning long after Christmas is over.
One last point – since I mentioned two weeks ago that Waitrose was halving the £25.99 list price of its Duval-Leroy Champagne from 27-31 December, the rotters have changed the offer to just a third off – because of heavy demand. Now, however, Waitrose has agreed that this column's readers will still be able to buy the champagne at the original £12.99 offer price. Go for it, but take this column along in evidence!Reuse content