Roc Primeur Bordeaux, France 2021 (£13.99, or £11.99 as part of a mixed case of 12, Laithwaites) For obvious reasons, the pandemic has been a busy time for wine online, with sales from some of the larger companies growing by as much as 300% during various lockdowns. If many of us have now reverted to our pre-pandemic methods of buying wine, many seem to have stuck with our online habit, just as Zooms and Teams (for better and for worse) have replaced many face-to-face meetings. Fittingly, the biggest player in the sector – Laithwaites – conducted its latest press tasting online, sending out samples and having its team of wine buyers discuss their selections via video. I enjoyed the small selection from the retailer’s 1,200-bottle range that I sampled at home, including two from the region the company has made its name with, Bordeaux. Roc Primeur is a lively, very modern, youthful, fresh, cool red wine that smells of cassis; and Château le Coin Sauvignon Gris 2021 (£12.99) is a well-balanced but sparkling white peach and grapefruit flavor.
Vino Atlantico Txakoli, Spain 2019 (£17.99, Naked Wines) Another highlight from Laithwaites (which, like most retailers, has its best prices when you buy 12 bottles (mixed or otherwise)) is a really juicy red Chilean made by talented Viña Morande winemaker Ricardo Baettig from the currently hip País Pencahue Estate 2019 (£10.99 or £8.99 in a case) has the silky feel and brightness of fruit I associate with wines made in egg-shaped concrete vats, which many winemakers now prefer to wooden casks or stainless steel tanks on the On the white side, I savored the distinctive Lebanese combination of Muscat, local cultivar Obeidy and Viognier in the Ixsir Altitudes Blanc 2021 (£20 or £18.99 in a box): a heady rose garden aroma, peachy mouth-filling and lemony-pithy A refreshing complement to a feast fresh food seasoned with tahini and zaatar It contrasts nicely with my favorite white wine from a set of ’30 under £30′, sent to me by Laithwaite’s online rival Naked Wines: vibrant, intense orange with a citrusy, modern take on the Basque classic, txakoli, paired with seafood.
PI Saperavi, Kakheti Georgia 2020 (£20.99, Naked Wines) There’s a beautiful story behind my favorite red in the Naked selection. According to Naked Spiel, the company’s wine director, Ray O’Connor, found it in a hidden winery in the garden of winemakers Levan Chichinadze and Teona Omarashvili in the center of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Made from the tall inky Georgian Saperavi grape variety, grown in the country’s main growing region, Kakheti, it’s dry but almost Black Forest cake-like: a luxuriously sensuous, velvety sheen of deep black cherry and blackberry, all beautifully balanced throughout sparkling acidity. It’s meant for roast lamb, but I’ve also enjoyed it with some very dark, almost savory, high-cacao chocolate. Under £10, I was impressed with the easy-to-drink, flavorful juiciness of Sam Plunkett The Butterfly Effect Shiraz 2021 from Victoria in Australia (£9.99); Domaine Des Deux Vallees Coteaux du Layon 2020 ‘Tarte Tatin in a Glass’ (£10.99, 37.5cl) is a lovely partner for the cheese at the end of a long and prolonged summer lunch.
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