Anthony Rose: 'Patrick Sandeman helped transform Lea & Sandeman into one of London's most impressive retailers'
Chatting to Patrick Sandeman at The Bunch's autumn press tasting, it was beyond anyone's worst nightmare that this most talented and popular of wine merchants would lose his life in a horrific skydiving accident a week later. A fixture of the London wine scene, Patrick, with his partner Charles Lea, transformed Lea & Sandeman's single Fulham shop into one of London's most impressive retailers.
Typically, Lea and Sandeman (leaandsandeman.co.uk) sourced unusual wines such as the 2011 Pulp Rouge Clos des Nines, £9.95, a spicily aromatic blend of syrah, carignan and alicante with a succulent, blackberry moreishness. Italy became another speciality and Patrick did a brilliant job in introducing wines from lesser-known grapes such as the 2010 Dolcetto d'Alba, Bric del Salto, Sottimano, £11.95, a cherry and plum thirst-quencher with classic sub-Alpine acidity.
Last year's decision by the Bunch's six independent merchants to show an under-£10 selection was repeated this autumn to good effect. Adnams' 2010 Selection White Burgundy, £9.99, was a model of a well-made, buttery chardonnay with a nutty aftertaste. From Mathieu Cosse, the 2010 Château la Coste Pentes Douces Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, £14.99, was zestily grapefruity, with barrel fermentation adding a textured creaminess (adnams.co.uk).
At under £10, Berry Bros' (bbr.com) 2011 Domaine La Salette, Côtes de Gascogne Blanc, £7.95, showed an exotic fragrance with a twist of citrusy fruitiness, while the 2009 Chianti Classico, Bibbiano, £14.50, displayed the classic sweet-red berry and herb aromas and sour cherry fruit of the sangiovese grape with a muscular, youthful grip.
Corney & Barrow (corneyandbarow.com) might not be your first port of call at under a tenner, but it managed it well, not least for a creamy-rich, herbal dry white in the 2009 Le G de Château Guiraud, £9.99, a classy white Bordeaux. For just £1 more, the excellent 2010 Côtes du Rhône Blanc Les Becs Fins from Tardieu-Laurent, £10.95, puffed out its chest in a ripe white Rhône blend whose peachy opulence was tinged with ginger spice.
Tanners of Shrewsbury (tanners-wines.co.uk) offered a vivid, plummy, autumnal Douro Valley blend of touriga nacional, touriga franc and tinta roriz in its 2010 Tanners Douro Red, £7.99, and a magnificent Rhône red in the vigorous, young, raspberry-spicy 2009 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £42.30.
In the under-£10 category, Rhône and Loire specialists, Yapp Bros (yapp.co.uk) came up with a juicy, southern French red in the garrigue-scented 2010 Minervois Domaine Le Cazal Tradition, £9.75, while the moreish sweet-red berry and green-pepper fruit of the 2010 Domaine Filliatreau Vieilles Vignes, Saumur Champigny, £15.10, came as a fitting conclusion to the proceedings.
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