This post is late because I’ve been in France for a few days’ holiday sans laptop and BA cancelled my flight home, at the last minute, by text, with little apology or explanation. An extra day swimming in the sea? Another evening to stuff myself with crepes? No complaints here.
But, to business.
Choosing wine can be tricky even for those of us who do this stuff for a living. The other day I was asked to order a case of wine for the parents of an old friend. All I knew about their taste in food was that when I was eight they ate quite a lot of lasagne made with cheese sauce from a packet (the packet bit was tremendously exciting at the time) and that their household was a lot more free with Penguins and Club biscuits than mine.
I went into a bit of a tailspin.
What to choose? And where from? I was buying to a budget. I wanted to pick six wines from around the world. They needed to look classy but be easy to appreciate; un-boring but not weird. Popular but not bland. Help!
For sheer value and choice I’d have gone to The Wine Society but I’d lost my share number and password AGAIN, and it was a Sunday, and The Wine Society in its antiquated wisdom isn’t able to ping you an automated email to sort that out (plus, when a real person does very charmingly email the next day it’s to let you know that there’s a new password plodding its way to you in the post. IN THE POST?) Anyway, after a couple of false starts I ended up on Waitrose Wine Direct.
There are some great wines here. But the first bottle into my case is one I return to over and over again, like a favourite pair of jeans, when opening wine for people whose tastes I don’t know. Chateau Segonzac 2009 Premieres Cotes de Blaye, Bordeaux France (14.5%, Waitrose, £7.99 down from £9.99 until 14 August) always goes down very well when I serve it in tastings, often winning the vote for “wine you’d go out and buy with your own money.”
It ticks a lot of boxes by being a claret (instant class credentials) from a lovely, ripe year (so it’s ample, not thin and bony). But its real secret is that as well as cabernet sauvignon and merlot it contains a good slosh of malbec (20%) which adds a bit of brawn, a sumptuous depth and clovey spice. You could drink this with roast beef or sausages and mash. Or on the sofa while ploughing through a box set. Or take it out for dinner. Not many wines are so obliging.
See Comments for The Wine Society’s all-seeing, all-scouting Ewan Murray comments on The Wine Society’s arcane password procedure.