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Andrew Campbell: Dipping in to Wine Society Members' favourites

The world's oldest wine club sent out a list of some of their members' recommendations, and so many wine fans can't be wrong...

Andrew Campbell

A few weeks back the world's oldest wine club sent me a list of some of their members' favourites.

Formed in 1874 by enthusiasts at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Wine Society lists more than 700 wines and spirits available to its 110,000 members, who pay £40 to join the club for life.

So on the basis that so many people surely can’t be wrong, I decided to order some of their most popular wines to see what the fuss is all about.

Now everyone loves a bargain and when I find one I love to ...well...put it on the grapevine.

The Society's Bricco Rosso Suagna Langhe Rosso 2008 , right, is a great buy – yet not without one fundamental problem. In this age of cheap, inoffensive, easy-drinking wines, the thought of high tannin or acidity may be a turn-off to many.

Yet Italy's Piedmont region, south of Turin, specialises in reds with just these characteristics.

Barbera and nebbiolo, the grape behind the world-famous and often super-expensive barolos, both produce wines high in acidity. Indeed many great barolos are described as tasting of sour cherries – so be warned, they can be an acquired taste.

The Bricco Rosso, made from nebbiolo and dolcetto grapes, has its fair share of acid and a touch of tannin yet at £7.25 a bottle it is extremely classy and a great introduction to the wines of this region without breaking the bank. It has a superb nose with intense aromas of red cherry, liquorice and a touch of vanilla. The smooth taste is packed with finesse and flavour including...sour cherries.

At the other end of the easy-drinking scale are the Doña Paulina merlot 2012 and chardonnay 2012 . I’ve seen a previous vintage of the chardonnay take a pounding in reviews yet this is excellent value at just £5.50 a bottle. Hailing from Chile’s Valle Central it’s brimming with ripe unoaked aromas and flavours of peach with hints of tropical fruit and tangerine. The merlot, also £5.50, has a delightful nose of bright, ripe red berry aromas with hints of vanilla and spice. It has similar soft flavours with fine tannin.

The Benchmark shiraz 2012 , made by acclaimed South Australian producer Grant Burge, is a typically powerful Aussie shiraz with savoury aromas of dark cherry, pepper and allspice. In the mouth, there’s plenty of dark fruit with spice and herbs, hints of eucalyptus and a long, lingering vanilla and cream finish. This is well-priced at £7.25 a bottle.

Picpoul de Pinet is a white wine from the South of France, sometimes compared to Italian soave, that’s increasingly appearing on UK supermarket shelves. The Wine Society has enlisted one of the area’s most acclaimed makers, Jourdan, for their excellent Domaine Felnes-Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2012 . The nose is floral and spicy with aromas of apple, pineapple and peach. The taste is intense and beautifully rounded with peach and mineral flavours and a citrus finish. This wine is also stocked by one of the UK’s top fine wine merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd for a considerably higher price and it’s easy to see why. At £7.50 a bottle, this is a Wine Society bargain.

Stormy Cape Chenin Blanc 2013 from South Africa’s Stellenbosch region is also good value at £5.75 with intense aromas and flavours of ripe pineapple and peach. There’s also a touch of mineral and smokiness in the mouth and a dry citrus and pineapple finish.

Cheverny is a wine region in France’s Loire Valley with a famous chateau and a reputation for good value crisp whites. Typically for that part of the Loire, the main white grape is sauvignon blanc but in Cheverny it can be blended with other grapes. Cheverny Domaine du Salvard 2012 contains 15% chardonnay but in character it is unmistakably sauvignon. At £7.95 it’s excellent value with intense, racy aromas and flavours of nettles, grass, gooseberry and lime.

If pear’s your thing, then Domaine du Bosc Viognier 2012 will be right up your vineyard. Coming in at £6.95 there’s also a hint of flowers and herbs on the nose and some ripe citrus and apple in the mouth.

 

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