Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Win

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Win

Article excerpt

I've always been baffled by the French attitude to wine. Either they drink too much or too little. When I was a student, a long time ago, I spent some months travelling around the country, including a few weeks at the house of a friend of a friend of my father. Every day my host drank an entire litre bottle of red - probably Algerian - with his lunch and another litre bottle with dinner. I would have been insensible, round the clock. But if you were in a restaurant, people would assume that a single bottle was ample for three or four diners, possibly preceded by a small scotch. If you were lucky.

And these days the French are drinking less and less wine. In the past 30 years, consumption has more than halved to barely more than one bottle a head per week.

In part this is because they are consuming less but better wine. It is good news for us, since with a shrinking domestic market, the French are having to fight much harder in the incredibly competitive world trade.

For that reason, prices - except for ludicrously expensive grands crus - are fairly stable while quality continues to improve.

As this offer from Yapp Bros reminds us.

Jason Yapp has dropped a generous £1 from every bottle.

Take the 2011 white from the Dme Millet (1). Gascony used to be the home of workaday wines from workaday grapes, in this case Colombard and Ugni Blanc. But improved technology now means that they are creating fully flavoured, lively, citrus-scented yet rich wines, all at very reasonable prices. This is a great homecoming pick-me-up, but also terrific for enjoying with food or at a party.

Reduced to £7.75.

Muscadet can be gruesome. Excited hosts sometimes tell you they bought umpteen cases at a hypermarket just over the Channel and it worked out at £2.67 a bottle!

That's what it's usually worth. But a really fine Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, like this 2011 Chereau (2) (with a sportive cartoon by Quentin Blake on the label) is much better than that. …

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