The staid image conjured up by the name might deceive you into thinking that the Wine Society is some fusty Victorian institution of claret tipplers. In fact, this no-frills company delivers on all the features you could want from a dynamic wine merchant: consistent quality, great value, adventurous range and unparalleled service. Last month I came away from the spring tasting itching to put together a delicious dozen at around a tenner each.
Frédéric Mabileau's 2011 Chenin des Rouillères Anjou Blanc, £10.95, is a terrific expression of Loire Valley chenin blanc combining vivid appley freshness with a mineral-dry finish; its South African counterpart, the 2011 Jordan Estate Barrel-Fermented Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, £8.75, is intense and rich, too, with a lick of honey on the aftertaste.
From Burgundy, the 2010 Samuel Billaud Chablis, £11.50, is classic chablis, rich and yet stony-bone dry. Its counterpart, the 2010 Society's Exhibition New Zealand Chardonnay from Kumeu River, £12.50, is an even more opulent chardonnay whose stylish blend of creamy opulence could be top-notch Meursault .
The Wine Society has made an exciting discovery in Portugal's 2010 Casa de Mouraz from Dão, £9.95, a blend of the native malvasia-fina, cerceal-branco, encruzado and bical. Last of the white half-dozen, a barrel-fermented white Bordeaux, the 2010 Les Amants de Mont Pérat Blanc, £9.25, blackcurrant-leaf scented and refreshingly grapefruity.
Reds kick off with Hans Igler's black-cherry fragrant 2008 Blaufränkisch, £12.50, from Austria. More adventurous still, Turkey's 2009 Vinkara, Kaslecik Karasi, £9.50, is a redcurrant and rosehip-smelling, cherry-fruity red. Back on terra firma Catalonia, the 2006 Latria Garnatxa Carinyena, £7.50, is a sweetly-scented blend whose smoky, plum-packed aromas make this mini-Priorat irresistible.
There's no counterpart, but the 2011 De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault, £8.95, from Chile's southernmost extremity the Itata Valley, is a remarkable herby-scented red full of cherry and spice character.
The same country's smoky, tarry, blackberryish 2010 Viña Leyda Syrah, £6.50, promises to be one of the barbecue buys of the year, while Australia runs it close with Mac Forbes' 2010 Blind Spot Sangiovese, £8.25, with its chianti-esque sour cherry and herb-fruit character.
If you're irritated at the prospect of having to fork out £40 to be a member of The Wine Society, don't be. Taking account of the £10 off your first order, it will be the best £40 you ever spent on wine. Thewinesociety.com; 01438 741177Reuse content