4 NOVEMBER 2000, Page 81


EL VINO, for many years the haunt of Fleet Street's finest, has always proved to be a mainstay of Speccie wine offers by consis- tently finding the most excellent wines at generally reasonable prices. Graham Mitchell and his father, Sir David, have yet again excelled themselves on our behalf. It is my belief that, with the sad departure of the heroic Sir Lunchtime O'Booze from their premises to Wapping and all stations east, Mitchell pere et fits now have greater time to reflect upon the sophisticated requirements of the Spectator Wine Club. I hope we shall capitalise on this excellent state of affairs.

The first white, the Aldridge Estate Chardonnay 1999(1), comes from south-east Australia. It is a magnificent golden colour with a lush, almost tropical taste. If you like the type, and you want some liquid sun- shine in your life, then this is the one for you, and at £4.95 the bottle it will enable you to garage the ammo for more expen- sive pre-Christmas excitements.

Next on parade, the Petit Chablis 1999(2). This is the sort of excellent, tradi- tional find that El Vino is so good at. That is to say that it is a petit Chablis that is as good as anyone else's full Chablis. It is entirely fairly priced at £7.37 the bottle. This is an assertive and crisp wine with a typical Chablis intensity. The panel liked it very much indeed and it comes highly rec- ommended.

The last of the whites is the Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur Lie 1999(3) (Melon de Bourgogne). Every wine-lover should have in the fridge a bottle of this delicious Muscadet on the 'Lees'. It is absolutely ideal for drinking at any time of the day and will bring a frisson to even the most jaded palate with its light freshness. At £4.70 the bottle, you can let the young loose on it without causing too much financial damage.

For the red wines we start with the Macon rouge 1999(4) (Gamay). This is quite clearly another highly suitable wine for your pre-Christmas party. At £4.95 the hot- tle, Master Mitchell has sharpened his pen- cil and offers here something of quite excel- lent value for money. This wine is crisp and dry but with the typical Gamay concentra- tion of red-berry fruit. You could quite well drink it as an aperitif, slightly chilled. This is an excellent all-purpose pre-Christmas purchase without any added guilt. Next, the Chateau le Clos du Notaire 1994 C6tes de Bourg(5) (Merlot and Caber- net). This is a straightforward, easy-drink- ing claret which is not expensive at £7.55 a bottle. The 1994 vintage is now drinking well and, as an added mark of confidence for loyal Speccie readers, I can confide that the proprietor has been elected president of the local growers' association, so he quite clearly knows what he is doing. The wine is similar to a St Emilion, but slightly less expensive, and the panel liked it very much indeed.

Finally, the Chateau de Rogues 1995(6) from St Emilion. This won loud acclaim from the panel with its rich and ripe red- and black-berry-fruit character. Grown on the limestone hill of Puisseguin, it has a soft, velvet, spicy and rounded taste which is both complex and intense, and reflects a Merlot-dominated wine with a Cabernet Franc blend. This is strongly recommended at £8.50 the bottle and you will find that it is just the thing for Christmas.

The mixed case(7) (2 bottles of each) works out at £76.04.

Thank you, Sir David and Mr Mitchell.