Fantastic Summer Wines from The Wine Society

Here we are again (after a lockdown-enforced hiatus) with a few of the Wine Society’s offerings I’ve particularly enjoyed lately: a garden-party stunner of a white, a crisp, delicious rosé and a bloody brilliant Beaujolais.

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.

Continue reading “Fantastic Summer Wines from The Wine Society”

Lockdown Scavenging: Reds from General Wine

So. How’s lockdown been treating you? Personally, I’m struggling with the cognitive dissonance wrought by (on the one hand) friends moaning about boredom, blithely sharing quizzes and sourdough diaries to fill the time and (on the other hand) my own sodding lack of any time whatsoever.

The smallest lockdown violin, I’m aware, plays for those who are still in their (absolutely, incontrovertibly) non-essential jobs. Before the mob gathers to stone me, I’ll add that I’m aware of my good fortune. Perhaps less aware when I’m three hours into a goddamn conference call. But aware nonetheless.

April passed, I observe, and the Industrial Content Megahub that is Old Parn, Inc cranked out a total of three posts. Lamentable, eh? (Though the last one was pretty good, I thought.) But while I may not have been posting abundantly, you may be reassured that I have been drinking abundantly.

And I suppose, whether you’re running out of hairs to pull out or thumbs to twiddle, you may well have been doing the same. I know I’m far from alone — in these virus-addled, socially distanced times — in leaning all the more heavily (metaphorically, don’t worry) upon my local independent wine merchant. Fortunately, I have a rather good one: The General Wine Company. What it may lack in nominative flair it delivers abundantly in charm and (as we’ll see) fine booze. They have shops in Petersfield and Liphook and they deliver free within a 15 mile radius of those towns (or further afield, if you can bring yourself to pay for delivery, you stingy bugger).

Here are a few of the bottles with which I’ve enlivened my conference calls so far.

Ego Bodegas Jumilla El Goru 2018
(£11.99, General Wine)

Now, if you’re on the General Wine site looking for Spanish wine, a word of advice: don’t use the filters. These mysteriously list more wines from Mexico (3) than Spain (0). Give me a shout if you need some help with your site navigation & tagging, chaps… Instead, follow the above link to this handsomely (if mildly terrifyingly) labelled bottle.

Ego Bodegas El Goru -- wine bottle label with illustration of wild-haired old man

I found the liquid inside barely less interesting: chocolatey and smooth (thanks to a dab of oak) with a savoury counterpoint of warm spice (nutmeg and pepper) and smoke. Dark, vermillion red, it has that femme fatale assertiveness you get from Iberian reds that aren’t the usual suspects (y’know, Rioja et al), with cherry and plum and a gentle solventy punch to keep you from getting over-familiar. A wine, I’d say, that sits at the intersection between ‘accessible’ and ‘interesting’. And, as anyone who’s set up their deck chair at Oxford Circus can tell you, there are far worse intersections at which to sit.

Wine Grade: B
Label Grade: A+
Website Filter Grade: F
(Jokes, jokes. I know it’s not easy for small businesses to manage websites. That, after all, is why I have a job — and, indirectly, is also to blame for all these damn conference calls, come to think of it…)

Brunilde di Menzione Aglianico del Vulture
(£13.49, General Wine)

Booof! Well, this is what is referred to in technical wine critic terminology you probably wouldn’t understand as a damn full gob of booze. It’s dense as hell: a really nice, chewy fellow. There’s some tannin in there but it’s still pretty accessible. Perhaps a bit of marzipan and candyfloss too? Hell, sounds good, doesn’t it? Or possibly horrendous. But it’s not horrendous, dear, I promise you. I’d whack this into a decanter: it mellows and takes on a delightful creaminess. I’m sort of regretting the bit about the candy floss now. Please don’t be put off.

In summary: full and super rich. Like an oligarch who’s just been to a restaurant.

Wine Grade: A
Russia’s Implementation of a Market Economy Grade: E

Domaine Lignères Lathenay Minervois ‘Emma’ 2017
(£11.99, General Wine)

‘O dark dark dark’ wrote TS Eliot. He may not have been writing about a bottle of Minervois. He’s dead, so perhaps we’ll never know for sure. (He wasn’t.)

This wine has something of an identity crisis, as it’s called Domaine Lignères Lathenay Minervois (y’know, normal wine type name), but also has ‘Emma’ written on the label, in a manner disconcertingly reminiscent of the logo of the mattress brand of the same name. I do not think this is the mattress-flogger/French winery collaboration for which tone deaf marketeers have been howling, but I’m not sure. It is odd.

Fortunately, the wine is less confusing. Indeed, it’s rather delicious, inky stuff, with gentle tannins but plenty of fruit: raspberry, cherry and so on. Not rubbishy fruit, obv, and this is not a fruit bomb, thank god.

Fairly typical of Minervois, I’d say (which is good as far as I’m concerned), and pretty decent value.

Wine Grade: B+
TS Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ Grade: A+

Okay, that’ll do for now. You’ll notice I’ve kept it summery with three hoofing great red wines, but that’s just how Old Parn rolls. I’ve had some nice General Wine whites, too, but given my shoddy post-count, I should probably spin this out and save those for a follow-up.

While you’re waiting, do fill your eCommerce baskets with some good booze, won’t you? Have a look at General Wine if you’re in my neck of the woods. And if you’ve loads of time on your hands, do me a favour and keep it to yourself, you bastard.

Now, excuse me. I have a conference call to join.

The Wine Society vs February

I drink a lot of wine from The Wine Society. That’s because The Wine Society is bloody good, and you should join it if you haven’t already. However, it seems rather tiresome to write a review of every bottle of Wine Soc booze I sink, especially for those of you who aren’t members (though, as I said, you should be) so instead I plan to run through a few bottles of theirs I enjoyed on a monthly basis. Starting with February.

February always seems to be a month of consolidation for me. That’s partly meteorological (weather that encourages hermithood) and partly financial, insofar as it follows January — a month notable not just for its post-festive belt-tightening, but also the arse-rending existential agony of buying my annual South West Railway season ticket. If there’s a more appalling way to spend more than £5k, please do let me know.

In the South Downs, February was mud and blossom, uprooted trees, sudden breathtaking islands of sunshine in the ocean of grey. And I wanted wine to be the metaphorical equivalent of those rare bouts of sunshine.

Continue reading “The Wine Society vs February”