There’s something faintly comical about the notion of Wine Relief. Do you need relief from, or after, wine? Yet Comic Relief today, of which Wine Relief is a part, has become a serious business with Red Nose day the climax of a massive fun-raising (ha ha), exercise for worthwhile charitable causes across the UK and in Africa. While the joke may not be quite so hilarious after 25 years, Comic Relief’s achievements in raising more than £600 million in the fight against poverty and suffering is no laughing matter.
There’s nothing funny either about alcohol-related harm, but a proportion of the £4m raised by Wine Relief since it was founded by Jancis Robinson MW and Nick Lander in 1999 goes towards fighting it. I’m not sure why more supermarkets and high street chains aren’t involved in donating 10 per cent from the sale of specially selected wines until Red Nose Day next Friday – those that are include Waitrose, Majestic, Laithwaites, Marks & Spencer, Farr Vintners, Oddbins, Naked Wines, Red Squirrel Wines, Virgin Wines and Selfridges.
Apart from some of their own reliable own-label wines, it’s good to see Selfridges offering one of the best of the bunch in Yalumba’s 2009 The Scribbler Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, £12.59. I love its touch of mint and succulent blackcurrantleaf- tinged essence of cabernet flavours. Among virginwines.com’s offering, two favourites are a good value red and white from Chile, the former a delicate 2009 Perez Cruz Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, £9.99, from Maipo Valley, the latter the exotically rose-petal scented and crisply dry 2010 Viña Leyda Gewurztraminer, £9.99.
Waitrose weighs in with a small selection, among the best of which are the aromatic, zingy 2011 Domaine Wachau, Terraces Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, £9.29, the fragrant 2012 The Ned Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, £7.99, along with the succulent, black cherryish 2011 Arc du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, £7.99.
Majestic’s Wine Relief offerings include a juicy rosso in the 2011 Allegrini Bardolino ‘Naiano’, £8.49, a red Burgundy-style 2010 Domaine de l’Aigle Pinot Noir from Gérard Bertrand, £9.99, down from £12.99, a classic drink-me-now claret in the 2007 Château Caronne Ste-Gemme, Haut- Médoc, £13.99, along with the sumptuous, spicy Margaux-style 2010 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River, £14.99.
Marks & Spencer has the most extensive Wine relief selection of the lot, all, fittingly, from South Africa. There’s the crisp, dry Villiera Brut Chardonnay fizz, £10.99, the same winery’s opulent Barrel Fermented Chenin, £11.49, and the outstanding 2011 Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling, £14.99, only a half-bottle but an elixir of liquid crystallised citrus and peach fruitiness to bring a smile to your Red Nose day.