On holiday last week, we spent the first half doing a bit of touring around the South and Midlands followed by a few glasses at home in between bouts of decorating. It’s quite interesting visiting friends and restaurants away from our home patch to see what people are drinking on an everyday basis. The British psyche about wine can be depressingly familiar and simply put just seems to be based around the premise of keeping it cheap and reliable. As a nation we have embraced wine big time over the last twenty years but much to our continental cousins disgust we have not really got our head around the concept of terroir and provenance – what we want is soft, fruity and alcoholic- it’s a no brainer really. The supermarket shelves are groaning with these confections – more and more of the same. An NZ South Island Sauvignon called Fern Bay from Tesco was just dripping in residual sugar, sickly and unbalanced whereas a pretty little stiletto-tipped Gros Plant brought to the same picnic shone like a diamond but no prizes for guessing which is commercial. In conclusion there are very few bad wines out there but lots of dull ones.
The purpose of this rant is not to try to change the way things are (although I wish could) but to illustrate and gently suggest that actually there are wines available from us and other independent merchants that are individual and reflect well on their origins. At a family dinner at the OXOTower in London we had a selection of Harvey Nicholls’ house wines all individually sourced from small country domains in France all absolutely delicious. From our own selection at the moment Quinta Hinojal Verdejo is a snip at £5.59, check out also Picpoul de Pinet from Les Lauriers, resurgent Muscadet from St Vincent, stunning south Italian reds (rustic yet really juicy) and authentic dry Chenin Blanc from the Cape’s Barton Estate – your taste buds might just enjoy the trip!