Food and Drink: Bin-end sleuths should get on the case: There are duds but also bargains in the wine merchants' sales, says Anthony Rose

Shoppers with a nose for a bin-end can sniff out the odd real bargain at the January sales. And, as the rule is strictly first come, first served, my advice is to get stuck in as soon as possible, even if the sales notionally continue until the end of the month or beyond. There are, however, a couple of caveats.

Most merchants sell by the case only, although cases may be mixed and delivery may sometimes be free. Relatively few wines are genuine bargains. The annual sales present wine merchants with an ideal opportunity to muck out their Augean stables, to unload stock that has passed its metaphorical sell-by date.

There is, for instance, rather a large number of 1984 clarets doing the rounds. This was the worst claret vintage of the Eighties, though there are good buys to be had where the price is right. Berry Bros & Rudd is offering a six-bottle pack of 1984 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou at pounds 19.84 per bottle (no joke, apparently, and it is an even unfunnier pounds 25 at Unwins).

You might be better off at Corney & Barrow, however, which has the same wine, on a long list of mature clarets and burgundies, at a still-expensive pounds 15.33. And even there you will find the occasional nonsense, such as the 1992 Loron Beaujolais Nouveau, decribed as 'maturing nicely, super value', at pounds 3.25 a bottle.

Still in largely traditional territory are the sales at Laytons, John Armit and Peatlings. Thos Peatling, the East Anglia merchant, is offering 20 per cent off all table wines over pounds 10 for the whole of January and February. (Why stop there?) Meanwhile, Laytons, disposing of the tail-end of a pounds 3m cellar, says it has 'not seen a list of so many top wines at these prices since the difficult days of the mid-Seventies'.

Some of the reductions do look tempting, even allowing for prices that started too high in the first place. At pounds 57.58 a case, or pounds 4.80 a bottle (down from pounds 86.40 a case), it is worth investing in a case or two of the 1990 Chateau le Bernadot, a classic, ripe and easy-drinking medoc. Among other interesting propositions are the 1989 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, down from pounds 270 to pounds 218, 1990 Domaine de Chevalier, from pounds 280 to pounds 220, Chateau Cos d'Estournel, from pounds 270 to pounds 218, and Chateau Canon, from pounds 253 to pounds 205.

John Armit's new year sale includes a number of goodies, notably the popular 1992 Domaines Virginie Chardonnay, from pounds 64 a case to pounds 56, or pounds 4.75 a bottle, and a fine claret, which will drink beautifully over the next three to five years, the 1990 Chateau Commanderie, Lalande de Pomerol, reduced from pounds 115 to pounds 108.

Both Bibendum and Lay & Wheeler offer more varied selections of reductions from around the world, slicing off an average of 20 per cent. Bibendum is offering the 1992 Puiatti Pinot Grigio for pounds 4.99 a bottle, while the graves-like 1991 Sonoma Valley Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc is down from pounds 8.98 to pounds 6.50 a bottle. At Lay & Wheeler, all the best buys have already gone, but there are plenty of useful bin-ends still going.

Full details of sale-price wines from:

Lay & Wheeler, John Lay House, 97 Gosbecks Road, Colchester, Essex (0206 764446). Sale ends 31 January.

Peatlings, Westgate House, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1QS (0284 755948). Sale ends 28 February.

Bibendum, 113 Regent's Park Road, London NW1 8UR (071-722 5577). Sale ends 26 February.

John Armit Wines, 5 Royalty Studios, 105 Lancaster Road, London W11 1QF (071-727 6846). Sale ends 11 February.

Laytons, 20 Midland Road, London NW1 2AD (071-388 5081). Sale ends 31 January.

Corney & Barrow, 12 Helmet Row, London EC1V 3QJ (071-251 4051). Sale ends 28 January.

Berry Bros & Rudd, 3 St James's Street, London SW1A 1EG (071-396 9600). Sale ends 11 February.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday