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Tue 01 Aug 2017

Staff Choice: A Pink For All Seasons

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As any members who have attended her events will know, Emma Briffett from our Tasting Team is a bastion of good taste, with a superb palate and a wonderful passion for wine.

Her Staff Choice reflects this in style: not only has she managed to find a great-value rosé gutsy enough to stand up to whatever the British summer decides to throw at us, but she has also provided a bonus recipe to get the most out of it!

Find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here

Brindisi Rosato Vigna Flaminio, Vallone 2016

I know it’s a cliché, but I do seem to drink a lot more rosé over the summer months than at any other time of the year. Maybe it’s because rosé wine is so inherently cheerful, or perhaps because it goes so well with BBQs and makes you feel like you have a little slice of the south of France in your back garden whilst you’re sipping.

Whatever the reason, we’re lucky here as The Wine Society has plentiful supplies of pink, and this one is my current favourite.

This is not your barely blushing pink so favoured in Provence, rather a big gutsy style of rosé from southern Italy made from negroamaro and montepulciano with heaps of red-fruit flavours and hints of spice.

This is a perfect food wine – we had it last week with butterflied lamb cooked on the BBQ and a green salad with an anchovy dressing. See below for the recipe – it’s extremely easy to make, lasts for ages in the fridge and is very tasty.

Recipe for the anchovy dressing…
• Juice of 2 lemons
• 1 small tin of anchovies
• 1 large clove of garlic
• 1 cup of olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste.
Blitz it all together in a blender and pour sparingly over salad leaves – the more bitter the better!

Emma BriffettEmma Briffett
Tastings & Events Co-Ordinator

£7.75 – Bottle
£46.50 – Case of six
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Categories : Italy
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Edit (21/7/2017): This wine has now sold out after a very enthusiastic response from members. We are sorry for any inconvenience and encourage you to visit the blog at the start of August, when a new Staff Choice will be unveiled.

This month’s Staff Choice was an absolute pleasure to receive: an excellent-value, out-of-the-ordinary Spanish white with a charming story behind it. I confess I’ve already tried a bottle at home on the strength of Georgie’s recommendation and can only echo her sentiments below.

The back-label story, referenced in Georgie’s review, reads:

Memories of childhood, games amongst the vines, I still smell the start of Autumn, aromas of vine that drifted through the narrow streets of the village. The legacy of a grandfather, somebody so important in my life, other ancestors too, that have passed on the pride of the land where I was born. Herència Altés is a homage to my roots. – Nùria Altés

Find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here

Herència Altés Garnatxa Blanca, Terra Alta 2015

I’m lucky enough to be married to someone passionate about wine who also happens to be our Warehouse and Supply Chain Manager. So quite often I get handed an unknown glass at home on a Friday night. I’m never disappointed but this was a wine that justified an ‘Oooh, what’s this?’

They say you should never judge a book by its cover and never judge a wine by its label, but the romance and story telling that comes from the delicate front label made me love this wine even more. Nothing beats a great-tasting wine with a wonderfully personal story, which the producer Nùria Altés shares on the back of the bottle. I never get tired of hearing about the passion winemakers put into their vineyards and their wines.

Herència Altés Garnatxa Blanca, Terra Alta 2015 is full in the mouth but with plenty of fresh grapefruit acidity to clean the finish. As a sauvignon blanc fan, I feel it offers a richer and more complex alternative. It’s a surprisingly modern Spanish white wine.

Georgie Cleary
Member Services Adviser

£7.95 – Bottle
£47.50 – Case of six
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Categories : Spain
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Many members will have spoken to Paul Bousfield from our Member Services team over the years. Paul also performs another vital service for Society members as part of a team that assesses the quality of new wine shipments that come into our cellars. This under-£10 Chilean red not only passed with flying colours, but has also become a favourite in his home.

A hearty wine, and a hearty endorsement…

Undurraga Cauquenes Estate Maule Garnacha 2015

Find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here

Undurraga Cauquenes Estate Maule Garnacha 2015

Keen-eyed readers may note that this is the second garnacha to make an appearance as a Staff Choice since the turn of the year. This one hails from the new world, and shows great fruit-forward character.

I first came across it when part of a team testing new shipments of wines, and was staggered by the quality and the complexity at this price point. Since it came onto our books, we have had this wine at home a number of times and it has never disappointed.

Undurraga are a great Chilean producer. I recommend their Carignan-Mourvèdre blend as well, but feel that this garnacha offers the best value for money, just sneaking in at under the £10 barrier. The wine shows brambly fruit on the nose, and this gives way to lovely sweet fruit on the palate, with touches of blackcurrant, aniseed and vanilla. It is 14.5% but this is not overpowering, just comforting!

It may or may not be sunny outside, but we can all still enjoy hearty food whatever the weather. This wine can work with casseroles and BBQ meats; our favourite match though is to have it with bangers & mash. Enjoy!

paul-bousfieldPaul Bousfield
Member Services Adviser

£9.50 – Bottle
£114 – Case of 12
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Categories : Chile
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Wed 10 May 2017

Staff Choice: A Family Favourite Pinot Noir

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After reading our head of Information Systems David Marsh’s excellent piece on Italy’s Barolo & Barbaresco regions in Travels In Wine, I was sure his Staff Choice would be a high-born Italian. Not so!

Instead he surprised me with a delicious organic New Zealand pinot noir that’s friendly on the wallet and, apparently, a dab hand with moussaka (see below!)…

You can find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here

Momo Pinot Noir 2014

Momo Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014

This pinot noir is a firm family favourite, having been purchased a number of times over the years. We find New Zealand pinot noir a versatile food wine, able to be matched with a variety of meat and vegetable dishes, or perhaps a rich salmon dish. Our most recent bottle was served with moussaka (reheated from earlier in the week when it is even nicer than the first time – the moussaka was reheated, not the Momo).

David Marsh

Momo is made by Seresin and is a very attractive pale red, typical of pinot noir and a lovely nose of red currants and raspberries, a fresh but not sweet summer pudding. The taste is between a Burgundy and some new world pinots, elegant but certainly not lean. This is a mouthwatering wine that leaves one wanting another glass. Organically produced, with a tendency, at least in our house, to evaporate in the glass!

David Marsh
Head of Information Systems

£11.50 – Bottle
£138 – Case of 12
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Categories : New Zealand
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Today’s Australian wine scene boasts an eclectic and even esoteric array of styles; but, when done well, the spot-hitting bargain Aussie red remains an unparalleled joy!

Step forward Joe Barrington from our Member Services Team, whose recommendation here echoes that of many fellow members and staff – not least buyer Sarah Knowles MW, who gives this wine pride of place in her selection of current Australian favourites

HMS Buffalo Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

HMS Buffalo Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

I love wines that that offer great drinking pleasure on their own as well as with a meal; a fridge door white, a fireside red, a quintessential quaffer! The key thing with this style of wine is to be smooth and easy drinking (and not too heavy on the pocket!) but have enough complexity and interest to keep you drinking it with a smile on your face.

Joe Barrington

This classic cab-shiraz blend ticks all these boxes for me. Upfront, ripe dark fruits entice you in; with a lovely hint of spice and black olives on the nose to keep you swirling and sipping. On the palate the ripe (but not jammy) fruit continues, with a good finish for an under-£7 wine.

The easy-drinking nature of this wine means you can have a glass with any dish that calls for a juicy full-bodied red (bangers and mash is one of my favourites) and then enjoy a glass afterwards whilst winding down.

Joe Barrington
Member Services Adviser

£6.95 – Bottle
£83 – Case of 12
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You can find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here.

Categories : Australia
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Fri 03 Mar 2017

Staff Choice: Pete’s (and our) House Rioja

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Around 11,000 members buy and enjoy our Society-label Rioja every year. One of them is Pete James from our Member Services team. Indeed, Pete wins the title of ‘quickest email reply in Staff Choice history’, so enthusiastic was he to recommend this wine.

The Society's Rioja Crianza 2012

Consistency is a virtue when it comes to Society-label wines, but feedback from both members and the press suggests that the current 2012 vintage is singing especially sweetly. We were very pleased to see that it was recently selected by Decanter Magazine as one of their 50 top ‘Best-buy Riojas’ – it was the best value of all 50 too!

Here’s why Pete was so quick on the button to sing its praises.

The Society’s Rioja Crianza 2012

This is a wine that I have enjoyed for a very long time and is currently the preferred red in our household, which is no mean feat!

With this being such a staple wine I’ve really come to appreciate the consistent level of quality. No matter what quantity I purchase it in, it never lasts long (surely the perfect endorsement). This has led me to recommend it to many a friend and family member and I would urge anyone reading this to give it a try.

Nice and smooth with a little bit of oak, this is keenly priced everyday-drinking Rioja, which for my mind is very hard to beat. Over the years we’ve tried it with many different dishes (as well as on its own plenty of times), the most recent being a delicious rendang curry which worked an absolute treat.

Pete James

Pete James
Member Services Team Leader

£7.50 – Bottle
£90 – Case of 12
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You can find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here.

Categories : Spain
Comments (1)
Thu 02 Mar 2017

Bottled Poetry For World Book Day

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Today is World Book Day, and it was great seeing so many young Harrys, Hermiones, Matildas, Mad Hatters, Megs and Mogs on their way to celebrate at school this morning.

That said, why should they have all the fun? As ‘wine is bottled poetry’ (Robert Louis Stevenson), we turned to our most bookish colleagues to ask for a few of their favourite literary libations.

The results are below for you to curl up with at your leisure. But, like wine, literature is an endless source of new discoveries…

…so if you’ve got a favourite passage or poem, please leave us a comment and let us know!

Wine World Book Day

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.
Paulo Coelho, Brida

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Wine initiates us into the volcanic mysteries of the soil, and its hidden mineral riches; a cup of Samos drunk at noon in the heat of the sun or, on the contrary, absorbed of a winter evening when fatigue makes the warm current be felt at once in the hollow of the diaphragm and the sure and burning dispersion spreads along our arteries, such a drink provides a sensation which is almost sacred, and is sometimes too strong for the human head. No feeling so pure comes from the vintage-numbered cellars of Rome; the pedantry of great connoisseurs of wine wearies me.
Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian

The fragrant odour of the wine, O how much more dainty, pleasant, laughing (Riant, priant, friant.), celestial and delicious it is, than that smell of oil! And I will glory as much when it is said of me, that I have spent more on wine than oil, as did Demosthenes, when it was told him, that his expense on oil was greater than on wine.
François Rabelais, Gargantua & Pantagruel

I rejoiced in the Burgundy. It seemed a reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its long passion had learned another wisdom than his.
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

‘A Drinking Song’
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
W.B. Yeats

…There’s wisdom in wine, goddam it!’ I yelled. ‘Have a shot!’
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Categories : Miscellaneous
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Tue 07 Feb 2017

Staff Choice: Spanish Innovation At Its Best

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Whenever I speak to Spain buyer Pierre Mansour about his latest finds, his excitement is obvious. The country really is a hotbed of value right now.

What’s more, the 2015 vintage has been a generous and successful one, resulting in a procession of affordable luxuries reaching our cellars in recent months.

Where to start exploring? David Connor from our Cellar Showroom had little hesitation in recommending this under-£9 garnacha, which has already received plaudits from Decanter Magazine, Tim Atkin MW and, most importantly, many fellow Society members.

Laderas del Tietar

You can find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here.

Laderas del Tiétar Garnacha, Gredos 2015

I have to say I have real passion for Spanish wines and this grenache – hailing from a small region north of Madrid high in the Gredos mountains – is a great example.

The grapes come from old low-yielding old bush vines grown in the Gredos mountain range near Madrid, and it’s this combination of high altitude and low yields that gives the wine a freshness and vitality that will raise a smile and have you reaching for a second glass. For me it was the perfect antidote to the more esoteric wines we tend to drink over the Christmas period and certainly punches above its weight.

As for what I would drink it with… well, when one of the winemakers was asked the same question at our Spanish tasting last year he simply replied, ‘whatever you like’!

David Connor
The Cellar Showroom

£8.50 – Bottle
£102 – Case of 12
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Categories : Spain
Comments (4)
Fri 06 Jan 2017

Staff Choice: Martin’s Budget Portuguese Pick

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Having spent my wine budget rather lustily during the Christmas period, I’m looking for maximum bang for buck from any New Year indulgences.

Thankfully, this under-£7 Portuguese white ticks all the boxes. It was one of the stars of my visit to Portugal with Society buyer Jo Locke MW last year; and it’s a testament to its quality that it can shine every bit as brightly in a grey Hertfordshire January as it did in front of the sun-soaked vista of Esporão’s tasting room!

The view at Herdade do Esporão in the Alentejo

You can find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here.

Esporão Monte Velho, Alentejo 2015

Esporão Monte Velho, Alentejo 2015

This blend of local grapes (roupeiro, antão vaz and perrum) is the top seller in its price bracket on the Portuguese market, and winemaker David Baverstock hit the nail on the head at our tasting when he said it offers ‘a lot of sophistication for a big-blend wine from a hot climate’.

Esporão’s winemaker David Baverstock showing buyer Jo Locke MW the day’s harvest during our visit in September

The ripe 2015 vintage offers a little extra generosity of body, citrus fruit and even some leafy complexity too, making this the perfect opportunity to try it.

This is no one-dimensional summer quaffer, but really quite a refined foodie white that will work well for wintry sipping too, and I hope you like it as much as I do!

£6.95 – Bottle
£41.50 – Case of six
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Categories : Other Europe, Portugal
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Fri 02 Dec 2016

Staff Choice: Our Favourite Under-£10 Wines

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For the last Staff Choice of 2016 we wanted to offer members something a little different.

We asked everyone who works at The Society to pick their favourite under-£10 wines, with the most popular to feature in a special Staff Favourites Mixed Case.

The e-mails began flooding in. 90 different wines were suggested in total. ‘How can you choose between so many children?’ was one response that summed up the difficulty especially well.

These 12 wines got the most votes – spanning Italy, Austria, France, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, the USA and Spain – and you can buy them for the equivalent of less than £8 a bottle. We commend them to you highly!

The Staff Favourites Case
A 12-bottle case containing a bottle each of two sparkling, five white and five red wines, voted for by Society staff:

Sparkling:
Italy: Moscato d’Asti Elio Perrone 2015 (£8.25)
Italy: Prosecco Brut I Duecento (£8.75)

White:
South of France: Duo Des Mers, Sauvignon-Viognier Vin de France 2015 (£6.25)
Portugal: Adega de Pegões Colheita Seleccionada, Península de Setúbal 2015 (£6.95)
Chile: Undurraga Cauquenes Estate Maule Viognier-Roussanne-Marsanne 2015 (£7.50)
Austria: The Society’s Grüner Veltliner 2015 (£7.95)
Italy: The Society’s Falanghina 2015 (£8.25)

Red:
Rhône: Ventoux Les Traverses, Paul Jaboulet Aîné 2014 (£7.50)
Spain: Navajas Crianza Rioja 2012 (£7.75)
USA: Ravenswood Lodi Old-Vine Zinfandel 2014 (£8.95)
Argentina: Weinert Carrascal Mendoza 2010 (£9.50)
Italy: Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, Torre del Falasco 2014 (£9.95)

£95
Case of 12 bottles

Available here

Categories : Miscellaneous
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