12 NOVEMBER 2005, Page 54

T his is the first of our two Christmas selections, and

Armit have come up with an exceedingly generous festive offer. With most of the selections, you get twelve bottles for the price of ten — a substantial discount. This brings some terrific wines comfortably into most people’s price range. There are also two champagnes, and a pair of fine wines that would be a particular treat with Christmas dinner, also discounted. As usual, all these wines can be tasted at Armit’s office in Notting Hill on Wednesday 16 November from 6.30–8.30 p.m. All welcome; phone 020 7908 0660 for details.

The first two whites are from the Seresin estate in Marlborough, New Zealand. All the vines here are hand-tended, almost all are organic, and the result in the Momo Sauvignon Blanc 20041 is a lovely blend of citrus, gooseberry, passion fruit and all the other good stuff we expect from Kiwi Sauvignons, with that underlying creaminess which sets off the crispness. Delicious, and a mere £7.32 a bottle, reduced by £1.47.

The superb Chardonnay 20042 has nuttiness and toastiness and tropical fruit along with real depth, also just enough acidity to give the necessary balance. (‘Waiter! Bring me a necessarily balanced wine!’) Truly yummy, and reduced to just a touch over a tenner. Excellent value.

Our luxury white is a Burgundy, a splendid Chassagne–Montrachet 20034 from Marc Morey, one of the best négociants in the region. Okay, you can’t afford Le Montrachet — who can? — but £17.50 for that lovely, heady blend of hazelnut, caramel and butterscotch is pretty good going. For Christmas Eve, perhaps, with prawns and smoked salmon.

At only £6.75, down from over £8, the Irvine Springhill Merlot from South Australia 20015 is extraordinary. The winemaker, James Irvine, started making Merlot after an epiphanic visit to Château Petrus, and while this might not be of £1,000-a-bottle quality, it is still tremendous and powerful, a sort of liquid fruitcake.

Many readers like a good claret for the holidays, and I heartily recommend the Ch. Grand Village 20006, reduced on the 12-for10 principle to just £8.16 a bottle. It is herby and ripe, with that light delicious undertone of chocolate. A Boxing Day wine, I’d say, to enjoy with cold meats by a hot fire.

Now two marvellous Tuscans — one excellent, the other superb. The Monteleccio 20037 is from Sesti, made from 100 per cent Sangiovese and is ripe, soft and velvety. ‘A combination of life, tang and rich fruit,’ says Jancis Robinson who is, as ever, right.

Le Serre Nuove 20028 is a majestic Super Tuscan wine — deep, rich, spicy, nutty and perfumed. This will keep but it is deliciously Our two champagnes are Armit’s own brand NV3, which is always popular with Spectator readers, and is reduced by £20 a case to £159 (£13.25 per bottle). Great value, the quality of a grande marque at a supermarket price — it has apples, vanilla, toast and a buzzy freshness which make it perfect for treating friends and frequent topping up.

Pol Roger was famously Churchill’s favourite champagne. This NV White Foil11 is a real special occasion champagne, reduced substantially from the high street price to £119.70 a case of six. So Armit’s are using it as a bribe — you can buy half a dozen bottles with every other full case you acquire from the offer.

There are two sample cases, and delivery, as always, is free. 73