My Round: Do stop wining

Our wine critic has a complaint to make - well, three of them actually. And he insists that you lend him your ears
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Anguish number one: there are just too many good wines to recommend. And sadly, the best often come from sources that sell them only under circumstances that make life more difficult for what I assume to be the average shopper. For instance, I have recently had a sample of Rosso di Montalcino 2002, Colleoni, from Richard Harvey Wines (tel: 01929 481 437) which Mr Harvey describes as "a truly individual and hand-crafted wine."

He would say that, of course. He also happens to be right. This is an extraordinary piece of winemaking, with no serious oak influence but the kind of complexity that many winemakers try to achieve through the use of forests-full of new oak. The wine is wonderful, made to no formula except the tastes of the winemakers. Why is it hard to recommend? Because you have to buy an unmixed case, and few of us can do that kind of buying. If you are so inclined, the price is £12.50 a bottle including delivery. And I think this wine is worth every penny. It costs little more than many a nondescript New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but has 10 times the character and at least three times the quality.

If this kind of buying scares you, please consider an option that I have recommended in these pages before: the wine-buying club. Do you know other people who love wine? Share the cost with them. Get the wine shipped to a single address and take collective delivery. You can then drink a bottle immediately and compare notes. A year or two or five later, drink another and compare notes again. This is the best way of drinking wine - in the company of others who share your love of the stuff. After a few months, you will have forgotten that you'd even spent the money. Pure profit.

Another complaint, closely related, concerns wines that are even less available: they're either not sold in the UK at all, or appear only on the wine lists of a few select restaurants. Writing about wines like this is roughly akin to saying, "Here is something really delicious which I tasted and you will never see. Ha ha ha." I don't go in for this kind of recommendation, but there is one that I feel obliged to make: Weingüter Wegeler Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese 2002, from one of the best estates in the Rheingau. This is the kind of wine that makes sceptics about German wine change their tune. I was sent it, I don't know who sells it, and therefore I can only say: "I wish I could tell you where to buy it." This makes me feel worse than useless.

And it leads me to a final complaint, though it's one that may make me sound like the prima donna of the century: I, like all wine hacks, sometimes receive bottles that don't have the prices and stockists printed on a label on the back. Boo hoo, you will be saying. But your tears of derision are misguided. In the years I've been writing about wine, I have received several dozen bottles that I would have recommended if I had known who sent them to me. But once the bottle has been pulled from its box, and the box recycled, there's no way of knowing who imports it and who sells it.

I expect no letters of condolence. But once in a while, I like to get this kind of thing off my chest. Which has now been done. Self-pity over. For now.

Top Corks: Three Euro-non-sceptics

Weinrieder Grüner Veltliner, Alte Reben 2003 (£9.99, Oddbins) Austria's greatest grape variety producing here a lush, intensely concentrated wine. Drink it with anything.

Altozano Verdejo 2004, Castilla y Leon (£4.99, Somerfield) Summer white, with lively citrus flavours and fresh acidity to clean the palate after a mouthful of barbecued chicken.

Beaujolais Villages 2003, Louis Jadot (£5.69 from £6.99 until 9 August, Tesco) An ultra-solid producer in an exceptional year. Recently drunk alongside barbecued rib-eye steak.

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