Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine Club

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Wine Club

Article excerpt

Last week someone published a list of the best-selling 'brands' of wine in the UK, and depressing reading it made. At No. 1, Blossom Hill, from California; at 2, Australia's Jacob's Creek; 3, Gallo of California; and at 4, heaven help us, Stowells of Chelsea.

I don't want to be snobbish, and some of these companies make a few half-decent wines. But mostly they are mass-produced, heavily promoted rubbish, put together by chemists to fill the gap in the market created by the admen. People buy them because they are a little afraid of wine; these must be OK, they think, because they sponsor fashionable shows such as Will and Grace and Frasier.

This is sad, because it's so easy to buy first-rate wines, wines made with care, love, and even passion. Since you're not indirectly helping to pay Kelsey Grammer's huge salary, they're much better value too.

All this month's bottles come from Adnams of Southwold. As usual Alastair Marshall and Rob Chase offered me too many marvellous, distinctive, lovingly made wines, so I have felt obliged to choose eight. You can order each by the case - delivery is free, as always - or buy one of two sample cases, an excellent one and a super-duper one. All prices are discounted by between £4 and £6 a case.

The Touraine Sauvignon 2003(1) is a terrific example of a 2003, bursting with fruit and last summer's sun. It's made specially to Adnams' specifications, and it packs more flavour into one sip than Blossom Hill does in an entire bottle. Marvellous value at £5.34.

White Rioja used to be a pretty feeble, emaciated partner to the red, like a wispy wife teamed with a jovial husband. No longer. This 2002 from Bodegas Bagordi(2) is rich, rounded and fleshy. It would go well with food, but it's also a party wine. And because people will sip it slowly, it will save you money too. …

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