6 NOVEMBER 1999, Page 81


Pleasing paupers and plutocrats

Auberon Waugh

AFTER a most strenuous process, which involved rejecting more than 40 bottles in three tastings, the panel has come up with what I think may be the cheapest and best offer in its history, with two reds which can only be described as miraculous at their

price (£2.85 and £3.85 each), an unexpected- ly magnificent Beaune and some white that

will stick in the memory. The pauper's case works out at a laughable £3.13 the bottle delivered; the middle case at £4.87 (signifi- cantly under £5), to include champagne and port; and the luxury or plutocrat's case at £10.63, given away for those who can afford it and want a happy Christmas.

Now for the wines. South Africa makes the best chenin blanc in the world, as 1 con- stantly remark. This 1998 Hazy View(1) has plenty of flavour, with a touch of sweetness (detected by some). It is very fruity and will provide good, easy drinking at £3.40.

Australia's Opal Ridge is making better and better wine every year. This 1998 Semillon/Chardonnay(2) at £4 has a fault- less smell, Chardonnay predominating, long-lasting in the mouth where the dilu- tion of the Chardonnay taste - Australians can sometimes overdo it - by Semillon is a definite asset. It has a good colour and is a thoroughly enjoyable wine.

Our next Chardonnay, from the Meaux du Pic(3), may be a trifle more elegant and burgundy-like, as it should be at £5.20. It stood up very well to a spicy stir-fry involving ginger. It is a balanced and impressive wine which everybody liked although, of course, we are getting more expensive and I cannot rave about it as I can about the first two.

Finally, among the whites, a Bergerac at £S.95(4). It is not a wine I have ever drunk in England before, and I liked it much bet- ter than I did in France. It tastes like a good, strong white Bordeaux of a quality which is hard enough to find nowadays at £7.50 or £8.50.

Our first red is, I think, the best bargain we have offered for several years. The Cuvee Le Bosq Rouge(5) comes from the Horanlt, but I do not see that that matters. It is non- vintage and no particular grapes are speci- fied. The important thing is that at £2.85 the bottle it is a totally acceptable, light, every- day wine - much better than you are likely to find in a French bistro at the same price. I cannot recommend it too highly, both as a bargain and as a faultless wine experience. It was drinking well two days after opening.

The Palo Alto Cabernet Franc(6) at £3.85, which started slightly hard and nettly - always rich and strong, but a bit harder than you expect from Chile and, I thought, possibly not to everyone's taste - devel- oped after a day or two into a truly great wine. Two members of the panel were rav- ing about it, swearing it was the best wine we had offered this year. Many punters will

like it more for being a bit hard (by Chilean standards) when first opened, and everyone must adore the final result.

The Pierre de Marco Rouge(7), from Roussillon, is one of those black-red, strong- smelling Languedoc wines which might astound us all in two to 20 years' time. We all thought it would, and it seems a reason- able gamble at £4. Some perverts love drink- ing this sort of thing, but I would have said it was interesting, rather than delicious, to drink now. Finally, a Burgundy which is not from a particularly famous year (1994), and some might complain of paying £13.95, but this is very low by Burgundy standards Avery has reduced it by nearly £4 - and I can only say the Beaune Marconnets(8) is a revelation. Many may have forgotten the taste of good, mature red Burgundy, and you could easily pay £40 or £60 a bottle for less delicious Burgundy than this. It probably needs drinking, but is a wonder while it lasts.

The champagne(9) was the best I could find at under £15 - in fact it works out at £14.45. It is a decent vintage example, beat- ing all the familiar non-vintage brand names. The Barros('°) ten-year-old tawny port is an excellent example of that delight- ful drink at £9.50 - healthier and, I always think, much nicer than the second-rate vin- tage port around nowadays, let alone the 'vintage characters'. In fact these ten-year- old tawnier are a completely different drink and, in my opinion, definitely one of the better things the grape can do.


c/o Avery's of Bristol Ltd Orchard House, Southfield Road, Bristol BS48 1JN Tel: (01275) 811100 Fax: (01275) 811101

Code White

Price No. Value 614 1. Hazy View Chenin Blanc 1998 12 hots £40.80 615 2. Opal Ridge &billion/Chardonnay 1998 12 bob £48.00 616 3. Chardonnay Meaux du Pic 1998 12 hots £62.40 617

Chateau des Eyssards 1997, Bergerac Blanc 12 hots £71.40 Red

618 5. Ow& Le Rosa Rouge NV 12 trots £34.20 619 6 Palo Alto Cabernet Franc 1998 12 bats £46.20 620 7. Pierre de Marra Rouge 1998, Roussillon 12 Gots £48.00 621 8. Beaune Marconnets 1994 12 hots £167.40 622 9. Champagne Beaumont de Crayeres 1994, Cm& Prestige 12 bots £173.40 623 10. Barros 10-year-old Tawny Port 12 hots £114.00 Mixed

624 11. Pauper's case: 6 each of 1 and 5 12 hots £37.50 625 12. Case for those better placed: 3 bats. No. 1; 2 hots. No. 2;

3 hots. No. 5; 2 hots. No. 6; 1 bot. No. 9; 1 hot. No. 10 12 hots £58.40 626 13. Plutocrat's case: 4 hots. No. 4; 4 hots.

No• 8; 2 bats No. 9; 2 hots No. 10 12 trots £127.50

TOTAL (cheque enclosed)

Please send wine to: Own name & address, if different: NAME NAME ADDRESS ADDRESS POSTCODE POSTCODE TELEPHONE TELEPHONE Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to Spectator Wine Club, or by MastercardNisa, details of which may he tele- phoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 10 December 1999.