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Past Offers

Weingut Becker Landgraf, Spatburgunder, Germany 2015

Weingut Becker Landgraf, Spatburgunder, Germany 2015

The tiny Becker Landgraf winery sits in the gently rolling hills of Rheinhessen, just to the southwest of Frankfurt, on the edge of the village of Gau-Odernheim. It is owned and run by Johannes Landgraf and his wife Julia (née Becker), a young couple from local winemaking families.

They took over the winery from Julia’s parents back in 2006 and together make top notch, cool climate Pinot Noir and Riesling.

If you’re a fan of red Burgundy but not so enthusiastic about the high prices then you need to investigate the Pinot Noirs being made in Germany. Known there as Spätburgunders, the best rank among the finest Pinots in the world, and frankly, they thrash the Burgundians on value for money. This superb 2015 from Becker Landgraf is a prime example.

Offered: September 2017

Alcohol: 13.5%

Vintage report: A stunning vintage, some think one of the all-time greats.

Drinking window: 2017 – 2022.

Food matching: Silky enough to be drunk by itself but would be even better with roast chicken, mushroom risotto or duck pancakes (to name just a few!).

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Domaine Grand Nicolet, Cotes du Rhone, France 2015

Domaine Grand Nicolet, Cotes du Rhone, France 2015

In stellar vintages such as 2015, the entry-level wines from the top producers can offer real class at very good prices. This Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Grand Nicolet is a perfect example.

An unoaked Grenache-Syrah blend with a bit of Carignan and Cinsault in the mix as well, it is rich and smooth with bright red fruit, impressive complexity and a lovely freshness that keeps you coming back for more.

Robertparker.com describes Grand Nicolet as a "go-to estate that fashions terrific wines, year in, year out". Their 2015 absolutely bears this out and will drink beautifully this autumn and beyond.

Offered: September 2017

Alcohol: 14%

Vintage report: 2015 was widely hailed as an exceptionally good year: “truly sensational” (Jeb Dunnuck), “rare and exceptional quality” (Michel Chapoutier). Rhône expert, John Livingstone-Learmonth was also brimming with enthusiasm, saying: “What struck me from the outset was how grown-up the wines were. At six weeks, they tasted like more finished wines of six months old. After six months, they tasted as if they had already received two winters of cellar raising.”

Drinking window: 2017 - 2020.

Food matching: Côtes du Rhône reds are famously food friendly and go with all sorts of different dishes. A few top matches though would be autumn stews, bangers and mash, hard cheeses and Sunday roasts.

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Martin Wassmer Dry Riesling, Markgraflerland, Germany 2015

Martin Wassmer Dry Riesling, Markgraflerland, Germany 2015

There are all sorts of theories as to why German wines fell out of favour in the UK - confusing labelling, Blue Nun, the war! The simple fact though is that Riesling is one of the world's greatest white grapes (the greatest if you ask Hugh Johnson or Jancis Robinson).

In the early 20th Century, German Rieslings were regarded (along with Bordeaux) as some of the finest wines available to humanity. Anyway, something went wrong with the marketing and here we are.

The good news though is that Germany still produces some absolutely sensational wines and the value is often fantastic.

Martin Wassmer's dry Riesling is a thrilling example. Bright and fresh with ripe citrus and apricot fruit, excellent balance and a slight minerality. It is the sort of complex white that seems to offer up something new with each sip.

Offered: August 2017.

Alcohol: 13%.

Vintage report: 2015 was a cracking vintage across Germany and Markgraflerland was no exception. A strangely dry summer raised a few eyebrows but aside from this winemakers experienced remarkably few issues. Baden Rieslings tended to be fruit-forward with fresh acidity. Very much the case with Martin Wassmer’s 2015.

Drinking window: 2017 - 2022.

Food matching: Try it with Chinese or Thai food (not too spicy), seafood would also work well, as would cider-glazed pork.

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Domaine de La Cendrillon Classique, Corbieres, France 2014

Domaine de La Cendrillon Classique, Corbieres, France 2014

The Languedoc continues to over deliver on quality and value, and the wines of Domaine de la Cendrillon in Corbières are wonderful examples.

The Joyeaux family have been making wine here since 1750 and today combine centuries of vineyard know-how (!) with top-spec wine making equipment, to produce some glorious old-vine red and rosé.

Robert Joyeaux took the reins in 2005, converted the estate to organic and has gradually established it as one of the region’s most exciting producers.

The Classique is a blend of old-vine Grenache, Syrah and a little bit of Mourvèdre (for added intensity and structure). It is unoaked, medium - full bodied, and very smooth in style with plenty of blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, as well as notes of coffee and a slight pepperiness from the Syrah.

Offered: July 2017

Price was: £14.95 bottle | £30.95 magnum

Alcohol: 14%

Vintage report: A challenging vintage in the Languedoc with winter drought and hail meaning yields were down. September rains then caused trouble for later ripening grape varieties. Overall though, some very good wines were made, particularly by those who triaged carefully at harvest.

Drinking window: 2017 – 2020.

Food matching: Drink with barbecued red meats, game, country-style pâté, hard cheeses.

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Domaine de La Cendrillon 'Minuit' Rose, Corbieres, France 2016

Domaine de La Cendrillon 'Minuit' Rose, Corbieres, France 2016

The Languedoc continues to over deliver on quality and value, and the wines of Domaine de la Cendrillon in Corbières are wonderful examples.

The Joyeaux family have been making wine here since 1750 and today combine centuries of vineyard know-how (!) with top-spec wine making equipment, to produce some glorious old-vine red and rosé.

Robert Joyeaux took the reins in 2005, converted the estate to organic and has gradually established it as one of the region’s most exciting producers.

The Minuit rosé is made mostly from Mourvèdre with a bit of Grenache and Cinsault in the mix as well. It is light and very drinkable at just 12% abv, dry, with crisp acidity, delicate citrus and cherry fruit, and a slightly floral character. The overall balance is excellent and the finish long and clean.

Offered: July 2017

Price was: £12.95 bottle | £28.95 magnum

Alcohol: 12%

Vintage report: A high quality but small vintage. Lack of rain meant old vines (therefore deep rooted) fared better than young. Fruit was very high quality though and many lovely wines to be found.

Drinking window: 2017 - 2018

Food matching: It is completely delicious by itself but would be a great match for charcuterie, seafood risotto or summer salads.

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Corte Mainente, 'Netrroir', Soave Classico, Italy 2015

Corte Mainente, 'Netrroir', Soave Classico, Italy 2015

The Mainente family are exactly the sort of producers that I'm always on the look out for - small scale, passionate about what they do ("we love making Soave!" Davide M. tells me) and focused - there's no tinkering about with lots of different cuvées and colours, they just make white, and the results are mouth-wateringly good.

They have been making Soave for over 50 years now and with the two sons now helping the father, the winery has gone from strength to strength. Forget about the mass-produced, co-op Soave you see in the supermarket, top Soave is up there with the finest white wines in Italy, and this, along with their other dry white, the Tovo al Pigno, is an outstanding example.

The Netrroir 2015 was aged in old oak barrels for a year before bottling, it is crisp but with riper fruit than it's sister white, and has an almost Burgundian richness. It is stop-you-in-your-tracks delicious.

Offered: June 2017

Price was: £14.95

Alcohol: 14%

Vintage report: A strong vintage with good yields. The summer was particularly hot and the resulting wines are ripe and perfumed.

Drinking window: 2017 - 2022.

Food matching: Excellent as an aperitif but would be even better with ricotta-filled ravioli.

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Corte Mainente, 'Tovo al Pigno', Soave Classico, Italy 2016

Corte Mainente, 'Tovo al Pigno', Soave Classico, Italy 2016

The Mainente family are exactly the sort of producers that I'm always on the look out for - small scale, passionate about what they do ("we love making Soave!" Davide M. tells me) and focused - there's no tinkering about with lots of different cuvées and colours, they just make white, and the results are mouth-wateringly good.

They have been making Soave for over 50 years now and with the two sons now helping the father, the winery has gone from strength to strength. Forget about the mass-produced, co-op Soave you see in the supermarket, top Soave is up there with the finest white wines in Italy, and this, along with their other dry white, the Netrroir, is an outstanding example.

The Tovo al Pigno is unoaked, fresh and delicate with citrus and floral notes. It is perfectly balanced and at just 12.5% abv, an excellent summer white.

Offered: June 2017

Price was: £12.95

Alcohol: 12.5%

Vintage report: A very good vintage over all. A wet spring did affect yields but excellent weather throughout the growing season (not too hot and the odd refreshing patch of rain) meant quality was very fine indeed. Generally thought to be slightly better than 2015 but with lower yields.

Drinking window: 2017 - 2020

Food matching: Excellent as an aperitif but would also be a great match for lighter fish and white meat dishes.

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Domaine Pique-Basse, Au Coeur du Ventabren, Cotes du Rhone Villages Roaix, France 2015

Domaine Pique-Basse, Au Coeur du Ventabren, Cotes du Rhone Villages Roaix, France 2015

Olivier Tropet took over from his grandparents at Domaine Pique-Basse back in 2000 and since then has established the estate as one of the best in the up-and-coming Roaix region in the southern Rhône.

The vineyards are up around the 300m mark which brings a lovely freshness and tension to the wines, and the Syrah for this particular cuvée comes from a tiny parcel at the very top of the domaine. The vines here are over 40 years old so yields are small, but the quality of the fruit is exceptional, even more so in a stellar vintage like 2015.

The domaine is organically farmed, so no herbicides or chemicals in the vineyard, the harvest is all done by hand and intervention in the winery is kept to a minimum.

In his 2015 Au Coeur de Ventabren, Olivier has created something quite exceptional. A beautifully balanced, complex and fresh Syrah with raspberry fruit, and notes of prunes, tobacco, spice and garrigue. It is silky smooth on the palate and passes the more-ishness test with flying colours.

Offered: June 2017

Price was: £18.95

Alcohol: 14%

Vintage report: 2015 was widely hailed as an exceptionally good year: “truly sensational” (Jeb Dunnuck), “rare and exceptional quality” (Michel Chapoutier). Rhône expert, John Livingstone-Learmonth was also brimming with enthusiasm, saying: “What struck me from the outset was how grown-up the wines were. At six weeks, they tasted like more finished wines of six months old. After six months, they tasted as if they had already received two winters of cellar raising.”

Drinking window: 2017 - 2023

Food matching: Olivier recommends letting it breathe for a couple of hours before drinking and says that it would be a good match for wild duck, game with a sauce Grand Veneur (huntsman’s sauce), or pigeon cassoulet.

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Falcata Casa Gran by Pago Casa Gran, Valencia, Spain 2014

Falcata Casa Gran by Pago Casa Gran, Valencia, Spain 2014

I have banged the drum before about the remarkable value that can be found in Spain's less famous regions and this juicy, organic red from the Valencia D.O. in the southeast is another wonderful example.

Made from a blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Garnacha Tintorera, and aged in French oak for 12 months, it is monstrously good for £12.95 a bottle. Surely the Spanish are going to start putting their prices up soon!?

Offered: March 2017.

Price was: £12.95.

Alcohol: 14% abv.

Tasting Notes: Ripe, dark cherry fruit, aromas of toasty oak, coffee, leather and a touch of peppery spice. It is medium bodied with easy tannins and a lovely freshness courtesy of the cool nights in these high vineyards.

Drinking window: It is perfect for drinking now, but will age well over the next 5 or so years.

Food matching: Delicious with hard cheeses (Manchego would work well), and essential with butterflied lamb.

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Chateau Juvenal, La Terre du Petit Homme, Ventoux 2015

Chateau Juvenal, La Terre du Petit Homme, Ventoux 2015

The Ventoux appellation lies just to the east of the southern Rhône proper and produces rich, Rhône-style reds from Syrah and Grenache, often with an extra level of freshness thanks to the influence of Mont Ventoux – bane of the Tour de France cyclists.

The region has started to produce some first-class wines in the last decade or so, but prices are in most cases still very reasonable.

Château Juvenal is one of the small estates leading the charge, producing a handful of highly-rated organic wines under the guidance of winemaking legend Philippe Cambie.

The La Terre du Petit Homme is the top wine made here. It comes from the best old vines on the estate and is matured in oak barriques to add depth and complexity. It is rich and fruity with the balance and complexity of something much more expensive and was awarded a huge 93 points on www.robertparker.com - a massive score for a wine at this price.

Offered: March 2017.

Price was: £15.95.

Alcohol: 15.5% abv.

Vintage report: Yields of Grenache a little low, quality excellent though. A punchy vintage with rich, ripe and relatively high alcohol wines.

Drinking window: Delicious now but will age well over the next 5 or so years.

Food matching: Steak, hard cheeses, hearty stews.

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