Anthony Rose: 'The Wine Society delivers on all the features you could want from a dynamic wine merchant'
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 741177
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