I have a friend, let’s call him John, the kind of guy who if he takes up running doesn’t just jog round the park, he does the Marathon des Sables. John is such a perfectionist that before ordering the plants for a lavender walkway in his garden put in months of horticultural research to get precisely the right shade, flower shape and scent. Two weeks after the lavender went in, his wife thought he seemed a bit, well, low. What’s wrong? “The lavender’s wrong,” said John miserably. And proceeded to dig it out. (I think his wife was so cross she made him sell the plants at the church fete). Anyway, John emailed me this week because in my Hot Summer Wines list for the Daily Telegraph I’d made the mistake of pointing out that The Wine Society is on fire at the moment – “I’ve pruned its representation down to six wines but it could easily have been 10 or 15.” Of course, John wanted to know what the others were. I’ve gone through my notes and made a quick list. The ones mentioned in the Telegraph are included at the bottom for ease of reference.
One word of warning: I check availability carefully for wines that go in the paper (and even then we don’t always get it right). This is simply a download of my notes. I do know some have been selling fast – The Wine Society tell me they sold ten weeks of stock of the £6.25 red Cousignac in the three days after my piece appeared and I can no longer see my absolute favourite, the Isole e Olena Chianti on the site….I hope there’s more coming as I forgot to buy some for myself.
The Society’s Fino NV Spain (15%, £6.25)
We all need more sherry in our lives. I’ll have this one, please. And look at the price. Chill it and get out the jamon.
Domaine Houchart Sainte Victoire 2013 France (13%, £8.50)
Pale rosé from Provence. There are pinks I like more but they cost a tenner. This does the job and at a very good price.
The Society’s Chilean Chardonnay 2013 Límari, Chile (13.5%, £6.95)
Glossy, perky, sunny, veined with fresh lemon.
Rizling Dveri Pax 2011 Slovenia (12.5%, £9.95)
Hot weather wine. Like the nap of apricot skin, hay, and alka-seltzer, with almost a tiny bit of fizzle. So refreshing.
The Society’s Exhibition Albarino Rías Baixas 2013 (12.5%, £12.95)
Available from 7th July
Made by Pazo de Señorans. Textbook stuff – vital, electric, compact, unoaked white with a whisper of apricot. Makes you hungry for seafood. **
Les Grands Terroirs Samuel Billaud Chablis 2012 France (12.5%, £12.95)
Nice decent Chablis at the price – and that’s not easy to find. Good freshness. *(*)
Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 New Zealand (13.5%, £13.50)
Properly complex sauvignon blanc, absolutely nothing wham bam thank you ma’am about this. Smells like sparklers, broad but precise, and serious. Super.
Pedroncelli Friends Red 2012 Sonoma County, USA (13%, £7.95)
Created for a wine club and a real crowd-pleaser, easy and pleasing. Mostly merlot, but leafy rather than slobby merlot, with syrah and zinfandel too. Goes into old oak barrels.
The Society’s Exhibition Mendoza Malbec 2011 Argentina (14.5%, £10.50)
Made by Catena, good solid stuff.
Mendel Mendoza Malbec 2011 Argentina (14.5%, £12.95)
More of a hairy wine than the Catena, violets and old leather.
Brindisi Riserva Vigna Flaminio 2011 Italy (13.5%, £10.95)
Negroamaro, matured in Slavonian oak. Drinking wine.
And a reminder of the bottles I recommended in my Top Summer Wines for the Daily Telegraph:
Louis Guntrum Dry Riesling 2012 Germany (12.5%, £8.95)
Direct, vivid, juicy – and, yes, dry – very contemporary riesling from the Rheinhessen. If you’re after an ice-cold, mouth-tingling shot of lime and peach on a hot day, or at the end of a long day, then this is the white for you.
Domaine Mallory et Benjamin Talmard Macon-Villages 2012 France (13%, The Wine Society, £9.50)
Macon-Villages is not a prestigious appellation but this wine is a real piece of work. Mineral, lithe, unoaked, beautifully limpid, gently caressing your mouth –very, very good.
Auzells Costers del Segre 2013 Spain (12.5%, £10.50)
Macabeu for Spanishness, sauvignon blanc for a squirt of freshness, chardonnay for breadth, albariño for fragrance and riesling for the twinkling little bits of lime rind that shoot through it: modern Catalonian white with a bit of something for everyone. V.v. popular at wine festivals too, says TWS.
Notre Dame de Cousignac 2012 Luberon (14%, £6.25)
Grenache/syrah blend from the part of France where Provence becomes the Rhone, deep in lavender field territory. Takes a bit of swishing round in the glass to get going, then smells like the haze of hot air on a still, warm night – dried herbs and dusty soil.
Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhone 2012 France (14.5%, £9.50)
Situated right in the village of Gigondas, Saint Cosme consistently makes superb wines. Grenache & syrah. Both classy and classical: closely textured, savoury, smooth and sophisticated. Scored three ticks on my two-tick system. Bring on the leg of lamb with rosemary, anchovies and garlic.
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2011 Italy (13%, £18.50 – but seems to have disappeared from TWS website. Perhaps it’s sold out? Are you getting any more in, Wine Society?)
Sangiovese (cherries and a dusty, crenellated, feuding Medici feel), canaiolo (local grape; smells of church incense) and, unusually, a dab of syrah (extra throatyness and a broad, open texture). If cheap supermarket Chianti has blinded you to the class of the real thing, please try this. Pure joy in every sniff and sip.