Bang for Buck

POSTED ON 10/05/2014

After three unexceptional years on the trot, Bordeaux had a golden opportunity to win (back) friends and influence people by reducing the price of the mediocre 2013 vintage. The UK wine trade made itself hoarse shouting that prices needed to decrease by 30 - 35% if the wines were to sell at this early pre-bottling release stage. But Bordeaux blew it. The trouble is that the châteaux don’t care enough because they can hold the Bordeaux merchants to ransom by threatening to withhold their allocation in a good vintage. Until the revolution at least, the few dozen châteaux at the top will survive, while several thousand lowly growers languish at the bottom of the pile.

No wine should rest on its laurels and while limited quantities and a good address may add a premium to the price, wine needs to be good value for anyone to have a good reason to buy it. By stretching our loyalty and patience, the myopia of Bordeaux in a competitive wine world creates opportunities elsewhere. No-one could accuse Burgundy or Barolo of ever being knowingly undersold. Yet 2012 Burgundy was the buy earlier this year and so is the 2010 Barolo now coming onto the market. Select an excellent wine in a good, better still great, vintage, and it will reward you over the years.

Burgundy and Barolo are more special occasion than bang for buck wines. Yes, wine geeks like me have to have them, but I’m still after wines for everyday drinking that punch above their weight. Majestic’s summer tasting offered tantalizing glimpses in that direction with a zippy, richly tropical Burgundian 2012 Killka Chardonnay, Bodegas Salentein, £11.99, buy 2 = £7.99 and equally fine value, mouthwateringly lime-zesty and dry 2013 Peter Lehmann Riesling, £10.49, buy 2 = £8.92. The ultra-fresh and zingy peachiness of Tesco’s finest* Albariño, £7.49, trips off the tongue with an almost briney, sea-salty freshness and its 2013 Tesco finest* Swartland Chenin Blanc, £6.99, is fresh, full-flavoured honeydew melon in a glass.

Impressive everyday reds from Majestic include the excellent new vintage 2013 Domaine de Montval Syrah, £9.99, buy 2 = £7.49, a smoky, peppery and tapenadey Crozes-like southern French red and, a bright, youthfully plummy Puglian rosso with suitably damsony bite in the 2013 Primitivo, Natale Verga, £8.99, buy 2 = £6.74. There’s a surprisingly delightful, raspberry-fruity 2012 Pinot Noir Puy de Dôme from Cave Saint Verny, £7.95 - £8.12, The Wine Society, Lea & Sandeman, a totally gluggy delight in the 2012 Familia Zuccardi Series A Malbec, £9.13 - £11.99,, Cheers, Cambridge Wine Merchants and more bang for buck in the impressively spicy, blackberryish 2011 Château de la Négly, Coteaux du Langeudoc, La Côte, £10.95, No resting on laurels in any of these wines.

Something for The WeekendSomething for The Weekend

Something For the Weekend 10 May 2014

Night In

2013 The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling

From the reliable Taylor’s, aka Wakefield, in South Australia’s riesling-friendly Clare Valley, this exotically aromatic and scrumptiously zingy example of the grape with its telltale lime-zesty freshness, tang and dry finish is made for white fish. £6.99, Aldi.

Dinner Party

2012 Tamar Ridge Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania.

For its berry-like perfume, you could be in Burgundy’s Savigny-Lès-Beaune, only there’s a more opulently spicy, cherry-sweet, strawberry fruitiness and silkier texture, yet it retains a mouthwatering freshness. £13 – £15, Rannoch Scott, Bon Coeur, Hawkshead Wines, Hennings.

Splash Out

2012 Cloudy Bay Te Koko

The Graves-style big brother to New Zealand’s ‘iconic’ sauvignon, the fresh herb and gooseberryish quality of the sauvignon is equally intense, only there’s an extra creamy-textured richness and stylish dry finish; fish or chicken heaven. Around £30, Jeroboams, Hedonism, Ocado.

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