Winter calls for celebration wines and rich and hearty whites and reds to combat the cold and dark evenings. Here are the stand-out newbies on our list:
Fizz – Henners Brut NV – Made in East Sussex, a few miles inland from Pevensey Bay, where William the Conqueror landed in 1066. It’s taken nearly a thousand years to plant vineyards here, which, as ripostes to the French go, can’t be called speedy. But the resulting wine is beautifully fresh and quaffable, with a nose redolent of toasted tea cake and crisp English apple flavours. It’s also a gold medal winner at the International Wine Challenge (that’s the big one). Well worth trying as an alternative to Champagne.
Although if you are pushing the boat way out then Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve is the yacht for you. Gold at the Decanter Awards and Sommelier Wine Awards and, frankly, on the podium more than Lewis Hamilton. Absolutely dreamy strawberries and cream flavoured Champers. The one that all our wine suppliers are keen to pop the cork on at training sessions!
White – Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay – from the oldest family vineyard in California this has got the wine critics’ juices flowing. Oz Clarke gave it 92 points in Decanter magazine and Matthew Jukes in the Daily Mail called it “superbly flashy”. Frazer Sutherland (of this parish) took a gulp and said: “Great! We haven’t had a fat bastard Chardonnay for ages.” Sales at The Thatch in Thame are particularly healthy.
Red – Altos las Hormigas Malbec Clasico – a collaboration between three winemakers, including world-famous Italian Alberto Antonini, we have listed this before and the 2017 is better than ever. Full of fresh, sweet fruit and fine tannins, more elegant than many a Malbec, it won Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards and 92 points from Tim Atkin in his annual Argentina survey.
Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Grenache – thumbs up from Fiona Beckett in the Guardian last month in her piece on Grenache. She described this wine as “super-impressive”. Willunga 100 are Aussie Grenache specialists, with their single vineyard wines winning all the gongs. This warming, welcoming wine is a great intro to Grenache and an excellent mate for a 14 hour slow-cooked beef and ale pie or a braised lamb shoulder.
All these wines are a cut above what you might expect on a pub list – but we always serve the good stuff at pub prices. So please explore. You won’t be disappointed.