Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine Club

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine Club

Article excerpt

LAST year, for the first time, we British bought more Australian than French wine. This is rough on the French, who have recently cottoned on to the fact that the whole world doesn't think that every one of their wines is superior to every foreign wine, and who have consequently started to meet the competition - with, in many cases, excellent results. In the meantime, Derek Smedley MW of Hedley Wright Wine Merchants has this month agreed to supply a splendid Spectator Wine Club offer, all from the southern hemisphere. I can't imagine anybody being disappointed by any of them.

It took some doing. I told Derek that Spectator readers don't just want first-rate wines; they want excellent value, too. I persuaded him to send me bottle after bottle for sampling. I finally made a selection, and brusquely demanded discounts. He replied, possibly through gritted teeth, that his mark-up was minimal and that the prices were already as low as they possibly could be. And, he pointed out, he was waiving the delivery charge for Spectator readers. I begged him to go lower still, and, whimpering gently, he offered to knock a further L2.50 off each case if you buy more than one.

The result is that the first two selections - a Cornellana Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend(1), and the same winery's Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend(4) - both from Chile, both vintage 2000, come in at coppers over L5 each. `Well-balanced' is one of those wine-writers' phrases that you never hear normal people use. `Waiter, this is the woman I love, and she has just agreed to marry me. Bring us a magnum of your most well-balanced wine!' However, it applies perfectly to these two. The mixture of grapes in the red is already familiar from Bordeaux, and the Merlot gives the tougher Cabernet a pleasantly soft flavour, not unlike a good St Emilion. In the white the snappy, grassy Sauvignon perfectly sets off the rounder, fruitier, more buttery Chardonnay. …

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