Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine

Article excerpt

The other day I had one of those awkward moments. We were guests at dinner. 'You're a wine writer!' said our host. 'I'd like your opinion on these two!' You're still supposed to say, 'Goodness, these are delicious! What did they cost?

Only £4.99 a bottle! That's amazing!' Instead you cast round for words that won't offend or actually lie. 'Never had anything quite like that before!' might serve. Your host presses:

'But do you like it?' The only reply is, 'Well, wine is a very subjective thing. As I always say, "If you like it, then it's a good wine."

'In this case the red was a thin, mass-produced plonk with a fancy label. The white did surprise me; it was the first awful Sauvignon Blanc I've ever had from New Zealand.

You could have poured it into the washing machine to help tackle stubborn stains.

Of course the bottles came from one of the many giant mail-order companies that offer vast quantities of cheap wines, all allegedly 'worth' far more than they're charging.

It's rubbish. You are certainly paying more for the publicity than for the wine in the bottle, before tax, duty, bottling, shipping and mark-up.

Which is why I always turn with relief to the real, delicious wines offered by our merchants, in this case The Wine Company of Colchester. These really are value wines, especially with Mark Cronshaw's substantial discounts. The Robertson Chenin Blanc 2012 (1) from South Africa is fresh and spritzy, with hints of tangerines and melons and a perfect party wine. Or right for those first outdoor drinks in the spring. Reduced by almost a tenner a case to £6.50 a bottle.

Viognier is increasingly popular, and increasingly good even outside its home of Condrieu. This Domaine Gayda 2011 (2) is only a vin de pays, but a very good one indeed. If you like the heady, floral, scented flavour of the grape you'll also enjoy the depth this one has. …

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