So, now that The Wine Society is delivering again (Christ be thanked; it was tough going for a while…), let’s get back into the swing of our monthly wine recommendations. I made a bumper order the other week, entirely (you understand) in order to pick out a few gems for you, my dear readers. Given that lockdown has doubtless been as unkind to your wine rack as it has to mine, I suggest you do likewise if you haven’t already.
Before we get into the booze, let’s spend a moment appreciating the fact that the Wine Society suspended its normal service at a relatively early stage in the pandemic, only reopening when staff safety could be guaranteed. That wrought havoc with my wine-buying habits, but was absolutely the bloody right thing to do. Good for them. In these days of increased reliance on eCommerce — of packages magically appearing on our doorsteps while we fuss about social distancing — it’s easy to forget the people in the warehouses, the depots. Lots of eCom businesses cashed in on the surge in demand, and it’s typical of TWS to have put its staff first.
Anyhow. Enough semonising. Let’s talk drink. In my last wine roundup I managed to list only beefy, burly reds, so I’m going for something a little more seasonal. Starting with…
Saint-Mont, Les Vignes Retrouvées 2017 (£8.95, TWS)
‘Ooooh, I like that…’ says Amy. As well she might. For, like Amy, Saint-Mont is a fruity customer — the Soc’s notes say grapefruit, but I thought passionfruit and apricot too — but kept in line by the acid smack you’d find in a Sauvignon Blanc or similar. The name, Les Vignes Retrouvées, refers to the winery’s practice of rediscovering lesser-known grape varieties, in this case gros manseng, courbu and arrufiac. It’s dry but not quite to a boneish degree, interesting without being inaccessible, rather excellent value, and would be an excellent candidate for handing out at a garden party, if such things existed any more. B+
The Society’s Corsican Rosé (£10.50, TWS)
This is an absolute champion of a rosé: spring in a glass. It’s bursting with joyous red fruit flavours, but in a manner that’s dry and full. I don’t think I’m unusual in finding rosé something of a challenge at times, but be assured: The Society’s Corsican Rosé is several galactic measures away from those glib rosés drunk by people who’d really rather have 13% ABV lemonade. Oh, those horrible, horrible people. I’d remark, en passant, that one of my lockdown highlights has been the ‘Glass with Marce’ video series produced by TWS, in which the truly delightful Marcel Orford-Williams wrestles with corks, chops tomatoes, wears excellent jumpers and genuinely beguiles all). He featured this wine recently, and his soft tones and gentle charisma will doubtless persuade you far better than my brash snobbery. Grade A (for both the wine and Mr Orford-Williams)
Domaine Coudert, Clos de la Roilette Fleurie 2018 (£12.95, TWS)
And finally, a red — but summer’s own red — a lip-smackingly delicious, crisp, crunchy, stalky Beaujolais. Whenever I drink Beaujolais, I’m reminded of Blur’s tiresome ‘Country House’. But Domaine Coudert is emphatically worth that brief irritation, because it’s superb.
And also because it has a picture of a horse on the label. A horse who has seen some terrible, terrible things.
Some people (I was one of them, long ago) avoid Beaujolais, either thinking it’s going to be light, insubstantial stuff, or else that it’s some sort of elitist reserve of wine twats. It absolutely needn’t be either of those things, and you should grab a bottle or two of this to set you right. Firstly, given its name recognition, Beaujolais as a region now offers some brilliant value (partly because it fell utterly out of fashion a good while ago and as a result can’t really trade on its name as once it could). And secondly, Domaine Coudert’s Fleurie is as serious and substantial a wine as you could wish for. It has the expected fabulous brisk burst of red fruit: cherries and strawberry, yes, but also (brilliantly) cranberry and an ephemeral waft of rose. But it’s also got that rich underlay of earth and spice and darkness. The reductive tenet is that Beaujolais is to be drunk young, but this bugger is from 2018 and I reckon it’s got enough structure and tannin to be good for a few years yet. If you’re cracking yours open now, do feel free to slosh it into a decanter: it can certainly take it. I’ll be buying some more to keep a while. A+, mate.
And that’s it for now. If you’ve had any Society beauts lately, please do holler them at me in the comments or on the Twitters, as I’m always eager for recommendations.