St James’s Treats
The revered wine merchant’s latest selection reveals some deliciously drinkable and attainable little numbers
Article by Rupert Watkins
Wander to the bottom of St James’s as we head into winter and you will find many rather decent little numbers to be enjoyed next to a fire. Berry Bros & Rudd‘s new Autumn selection is slightly more compact at 69 offerings than in previous years; a huge number sit at under £20 and many are less than £15. Both the new and old worlds are represented in a very balanced fashion and the wine merchants showed a taut selection of sparkling wine to demonstrate there is much to tantalise the taste buds away from champagne.
With so many delicious wines, where does one start? Heading south, to Argentina for their reds. A very fruity and smooth 2012 Bodega Cuarto Domino Malbec (£34.95) was rather drinkable as was a very light 2012 Bodega Del Desierto 25 Malbec weighing in at £12.50. Meandering gently up to North America, there was a good selection of Californian reds – all under £20 – with a 2012 Uvaggio Barbera leading the pack.
This writer must admit to being a traditionalist and so he quickly moved to the old world stands. However, on route – having written on Berrys’s selection of Eastern Mediterranean wines – the more unusual Hungarian, Cypriot and Israeli wines were eagerly checked out. A 2011 Royal Somlo Juhfark white wine (£18.95) from Hungary was lovely, gooseberries on the nose with a very broad, red-like feel and minerally taste in the mouth. One to adventurously pair with pork and game. A full bodied and plummy 2013 Recanati Winery Wild Carignan Reserve from Israel was exceedingly good coming in at £24.95.
Berry’s showcased a selection of non-champagne sparkling wines. Whilst much is written in this country about the renaissance and surge in English wine making, California, Spanish Cava and Italian prosecco continue to give those drinkers not worried about tags a fizzy and effervescent time. A 2009 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut from Green Valley in the US was light and refreshing with apricots on the nose and gooseberries on the palette. At just under £30 a bargain. From Hampshire a premier cuvee Hambledon was very light to drink with hints of peaches.
Leaping lightly across the channel, those desirous of the champagne tag are catered for by the balanced Paul Bara Brut Reserve Grand Cru. At £32, this champagne has a light apricot taste on the palette with hints of lemon. Very refreshing, one to perhaps see in the new year with. Traditional whites were well looked after with two delicious chablis from the Domaine Eleni et Edouard Vocoret, a 2013 Chablis Le Bas De Chapelot at £18.95 and a Chablis Butteaux Premier Cru (same year) at a £29.95. Both having that distinctive sharp and mineral edge to the palette these would be my standout whites from the selection.
The classic reds – as one would expect from such an institution – are excellent. A 2013 Morgon Cote Du Py Beaujolois is an easy drinking wine – very soft on the nose. Dropping south into Spain, a 2008 Pegaso Granito was delicious, very fruity and broad. Full blooded and all too easily drinkable. Moving to France again, the selection of clarets was stunning. The 2002 vintage that Berrys was introducing was the smallest crop since the notorious frosts of 1991. The Chateaux Haut-Bages Liberal Pauillac (£35) was a star performer with red berries on the nose, very soft with hints of chocolate on the palette whilst the very reasonable £23 Chateaux Potensac Medoc had a slightly spicy nose with a broader berry taste. 2002 was also a dicey year for Sauternes as well, but Berry Bros have managed to unearth a quite delicious Chateaux Coutet Barsac. Slight hints of rose on the nose with honey and peaches on the palette this was stunning and for £26.90 a steal.
Finishing off the Autumn selection were a small smattering of spirits, including a Glenrothes Vintage Reserve Speyside which – even for someone who prefers lowland distilleries – was delicious and a Mauritian Penny Blue XO Single Estate rum was again was quite lovely and wickedly drinkable. Both these weighed in at a very decent £40.
Enquiries: Berry Bros & Rudd, 3 St James’s, London SW1A 1EG / 0207 0228973 / www.bbr.com/