12 JANUARY 2008, Page 45



If you live in or around London you must have noticed the chain of Davy’s wine bars which dot the capital, most especially the City. Many have offbeat names, which are vaguely and sometimes not so vaguely sexual: the City Flogger, for example, or Bangers, Skinkers and the Chopper Lump. Some sound like terrific euphemisms from Georgian times: what was a Lees Bag, or a Tappit-Hen? We can only guess what went on in Bung Hole Cellars when the Watch wasn’t watching. In fact they are pleasingly old-fashioned eateries, serving hams, pies, steaks, salads, mountains of buttery new potatoes and ribclinging puds such as treacle tart. The wines are good, varied and well priced. There is also a wide choice of half-bottles, perfect for that time when the two of you can’t quite manage three more glasses each.

Their own label wines are extremely good value, and even more so since James Davy has taken 12.5 per cent off the list price of each bottle, which is why we are offering a selection this week. The Davy’s Muscadet (1) is a serious cut above most, especially the rubbish people buy in French hypermarkets for €3 a bottle, which resembles diluted paint-stripper. This has a rich, satisfying, almost creamy taste and would be perfect as an aperitif or with seafood. Reduced to £5.11. I loved the Davy’s Chilean Chardonnay (2), which is fullbodied with a nice balancing acidity. It has a slightly tropical flavour — pineapple, lychees and so forth — but also satisfying undertones of hazelnuts and honey. Excellent value at only £5.42.

Now the reds. Davy’s Rioja (3) is a Crianza, which means that it must be at least in its third year and have spent a minimum of 12 months maturing in oak. There’s some pretty second-rate stuff sold as Rioja these days, but not this — it has smooth, rich and complex flavours. Perfect with roasts and casseroles, Davy’s recommend it with old cheese at the end of the meal, when it would be almost like a dry port. Reduced to a bargain £6.95. I am determined never to recommend a below-par claret; not always easy when you see some of the fluid sold under that label. But Davy’s Finest Claret (4) is really very good and easy drinking, not least because it is only one third Cabernet Sauvignon, which means that it has a full fat, cedary, leathery flavour without tannic astringency. The 45 per cent Merlot gives it a very welcome softness. Down to £7.83 and heartily recommended.

Delivery, as ever, is free, and there is a sample case which allows you to try all the wines. �'