I went home to Yorkshire for a weekend of admiring my brand new, very ginger and alarmingly-strong nephew Henry. (Are six day old babies supposed to be so proficient in the head-butting department?) We were lucky with blazing sunshine for a walk across the moors and at dinner time mum fried up some sausages with borlotti and cabbage while I riffled through the wine rack looking for a suitable red. I was pleased to see that dad had obeyed instructions and hunted down several bottles of the Domaine de Montval Syrah 2012 France during the brief period in August when it was: a) down at £6.66 and b) still available in Majestic. It was even better than I remembered, showing true Rhone-like syrah personality, black pepper, violets and a bit of scratch. “Oooh yes, we really like that one,” said mum.
Increasingly I find that wines I want to recommend either have a very small “the price is right” buying window. Or they sell out very quickly (like that gorgeous St Cosme the Wine Society had over the summer, or another Wine Society special, the brilliant value Notre Dame de Cousignac 2012 whose sales went up from 250 a week to 3,500 in the week after I mentioned it in the Telegraph, and now there’s none left).
This used to be an issue. At least, it did for many newspaper readers whose expectation levels for wine-buying were that if a recommended bottle of wine wasn’t as readily available as a bag of granulated sugar then an outrage had occurred. Perhaps pop-ups, flash sales and discount stores whose wines come in and out in a grab-it-while-you-can type manner have begun to train us out of that complacency. Like our grandmothers who hand-bagged it down to the butchers for the best bacon, back in the day, or the terrifyingly focused, 300-strong crowd I joined queuing outside the village library ready to barge through the door the second the Menston Nearly New Sale of jigsaws and children’s clothing opened at 10.00am on Saturday, there’s an increasing acceptance that if you want to pick up the best wines at the best prices sometimes you have to be switched on and MOVE. Or “Look quick,” as they say at home.
Here’s a current bargain.
Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura 2012 France (Aldi, £7.29) The new vintage of Aldi’s furiously successful sparkling chardonnay from the Jura is now on the shelves and tasting superb. If there’s a better sparkling wine for the money in this country then I have yet to try it. Well-defined, crisp and brisk, a proper wine, not just vacant sweet bubbles. I think Aldi have bought a lot of this so it should not be in danger of drying up any time soon.