My Round: Putting grapes to good use

Here's your chance to win some fine wine - and make the world a better place. But you may end up with a red nose
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Indy Lifestyle Online

There's bad news, good news, and best news. The bad news: I'm asking you to dig into your pocket. The good: it's in a very worthy cause. The best: you're getting the opportunity to win a really fine and interesting case of wine, courtesy of Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900 4300, www.bbr.com). All in all, I'd say the positives outweigh the negatives here. The cause is Wine Relief, aka Comic Relief, aka Red Nose Day, coming up on 11 March, and there isn't much you have to do to give yourself a crack at my cracking case.

There's bad news, good news, and best news. The bad news: I'm asking you to dig into your pocket. The good: it's in a very worthy cause. The best: you're getting the opportunity to win a really fine and interesting case of wine, courtesy of Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900 4300, www.bbr.com). All in all, I'd say the positives outweigh the negatives here. The cause is Wine Relief, aka Comic Relief, aka Red Nose Day, coming up on 11 March, and there isn't much you have to do to give yourself a crack at my cracking case.

You probably don't need much explanation of Comic Relief, which has raised huge sums of money for good causes. Of the UK organisations benefiting from the dosh, my personal favourite is the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, an organisation I have particular reason to value as a citizen of the US. Wine Relief is the wine industry's contribution to the effort, thus far raising around £1.2m, and it takes several forms. The principal form is a 10 per cent deal on selected wines at some of the nation's major retailers: not a 10 per cent discount, but a tenth of the sale price going to Wine Relief straight from your purchase. The wines in question are flagged at all participating locations.

When the last Wine Relief effort was held, in 2003, I was less than enthralled by the quality of some of the wines. This year there are some dullards aiding the cause, but there are also some that I personally wouldn't want to drink, which have been hurled into action by producers who take this fund-raising event seriously - and I applaud them even if I'm not crazy about their wines. And in among the hum-drum are some totally covetable bottles. Some of the best are to be found at Booths, M&S, Oddbins and Sainsbury's. The best of the bunch for sheer value is the Tenute del Sole Negroamaro 2001 at Booths (£3.99). I would also push you in the direction of Surrey-based Arthur Rackham, if you live in the area. A few nationally available wines are highlighted to the right.

My offering is somewhat different. The Berry Bros case, put together at my suggestion, is more than just a selection of 12 nice wines. It's also an opportunity to compare and contrast similar types of wine from Old and New World countries. There is an Australian Shiraz (Balthazar 2001, Barossa Valley) to compare with a 1998 Côtes-du-Rhône from the house of Chave. A fine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend from Clos de la Chance to compare with Château d'Agassac 2000, Haut-Médoc. And another Australian, Arthur's Creek Chardonnay 2000, Yarra Valley, to set up against a classy Bourgogne Blanc 2001 from Domaine Denis Mortet.

This case gives you the chance to see how grapes behave in different places. You'll just be doing it in your own home, perhaps with a few friends. Maybe you can all band together to increase your chances of winning?

The retail value of the wines lies somewhere in the region of £165. They could all be yours if you are willing to send an envelope containing a piece of paper with your name, address and phone number to Comic Relief, Wine Relief/ Independent on Sunday competition, 5th Floor, 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 9TS. That's all you need to do. But of course, you should also - although you're not obliged - include a cheque made payable to Red Nose Day 2005. I would suggest a contribution of £5.

Deadline for entries is 18 March, a week after Red Nose Day itself. And even if you don't want to have your chance at this thought-provoking case, I urge you to buy a bottle with the Wine Relief collar. The grape was never put to better use.

Top Corks: Three for Wine Relief

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2004, Stellenbosch (£6.99, Waitrose) Recommended on these pages before. Zing, zap and zoom from one of South Africa's great masters of this grape variety.

Sainsbury's Classic Selection Western Australian Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2003 (£6.99) Better than a Bordeaux at the same price.

Montes Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (£5.99, Majestic) Classic varietal purity from the Casablanca valley of Chile. Think about what you'd get from New Zealand for this price, and try this.

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