Leah, but what if he is cunningly disguised as a wine fridge service engineer?
There’s an interesting story here. My wife went to an auction at Sotheby’s in NYC (where we used to live) and bought that and Ch Gloria (1996 vintages for both) , and some white burgundy I can no longer remember. It was her first time buying wine in an auction and she selected all by herself. I reckon she studied that catalogue for ages before the auction day, and she even brought her old HP12C into the auction room to calculate the buyers premium in real-time. These were the days.
I bet that box could tell some stories! When I first saw the box I thought it was you and you’d blown your cover
1. Act quickly, when on the website if you dither, ruminate or “carefully consider;” before you know it -then the object of your desire has been snaffled up by a more savvy member!
2. Buy as well as you can. Do NOT go for quantity, QUALITY is what you will get when you pull the cork if you bought better. You WILL remember the better bottles, rather than the lesser ones.
3. taste, Taste, TASTE until you KNOW which wines you really like. If you can, go to wine club tastings, Wine shop tastings, Wine Merchant tastings. Generally speaking, your £ spent on a supermarket wine will not be as good as one spent at the Society. Once you find the type or Region that does it for you, then refine it down to your favourite Domaines or growers. And then follow (buy from them most years), good or great winemakers who do not know how to make a bad bottle. I really like Gigondas, and Cazaux Sarrasine and Raspail-Ay are two of my go to Domaines. I have cases of the hugely lauded Hominis Fides (look it up) expensive and the 2016, a 100 point wine. The Sarrasine 2013 (£13 per bottle DP) was unbelievable on its day, and various vintages of Raspail-Ay have been utterly sublime.
4. I will cheat, a bit and give you a fourth. I could give you twenty.
Research your subject, if you love it -it is not work.
The Domaine, the people, the history, the grape types, the winemaking, the vineyard, etc.
That WILL give you a closer connection to the wine.
If you cannot afford to subscribe to a website like DrinkRhone.com (only £25 per year) or even Vinous, Parker or JebDunnuck (all around £100 per year), then there is plenty of free, up to date information out there. You can get a free subscription to Decanter & Wine Spectator through your local library, look at Farr Vintners or Fine & Rare website, loads of TN’s there. Go to Wine Merchants websites, very often they use Parker or Vinous TN’s to sell their wines. Not sure when to drink that single bottle that you have been so looking forward to, you can go to Cellar Tracker but have you ever thought of going to a top end Restaurant from the region where your bottle came from, and see if it is on their Wine List? There are loads of tricks that you can employ, I thought up most of mine!!
The day that you will have an idea that you have cracked it, is when the new EP offer is coming out and you know 90% of the wines that you want - if they are there.
Great cellar…but something appears missing down there?.. me, a corkscrew and my faithful Zalto Universal…
The wine fridge isn’t in the garage
If there’s no corkscrew down there, then I’m a teetotal squirrel
Awesome advice Taffy-on-tour! Like you, I am an anorak when it comes to research and digging. It’s how I found Sylvain Pataille and his wonderful Marsannays and Brocard in Chablis as a reliable producer (and that was before I realised that he did the Society Chablis).
I also agree with your advice to taste, taste, and taste again to find out what you like. There is a lot of rubbish as well as good stuff written about wine and also a lot of snobbery in my view. Drink what you like and don’t worry about what other people think! If you like a belting great Shiraz with your fish fingers or a Chardonnay with your sausages, then go for it!
I personally take a great deal of pleasure in introducing people to new things and sharing my collection.
This was my daughter’s (third from the left in the pink and white top) last birthday bash where she was able to invite her closest friends for dinner (December last year and pre-covid!). That gave me the opportunity to cook lots of courses and to serve an appropriate (in my view) wine with each course. You might spot a Wine Society tasting note in the foreground as I printed them all and they were avidly read by the ladies.
Yes, in case you were wondering, I do all the cooking in our household as I love it. Lady Brentw1 has been very happy with that arrangement for the last 34 years as she hates it! Happy days and here’s to us all being able to share with friends again in the near future.
Ooooh. The before times!
(Also I really like unoaked Chardonnay with Toad in the Hole!).
Seconded…though I would add, and probably above Brocard, the Samuel Billaud Chablis. At all levels.
Three things…just three…
For areas where it really counts, Pinot Noir/Burgundy being one, try to get to a WS tutored tasting. You will learn a lot. Same applies to specialist dinners. We went to the Domaine Weinbach dinner in Glasgow a couple of years ago. Not cheap, but fantastic wines, great food, and probably best of all, had a great chance to chat to the winemaker, Jo Locke the WS buyer, and also a couple of fascinating fellow members, one of whom gave an unforgettable ‘insider’ view of politics in the 70s and 80s. His views on the current incumbents were not for putting down here…lest this post be removed!
The quality of customer service is high in general. From Member Services to own van delivery. If there is a problem, it will get sorted. To be fair, my experience with the other UK merchants I’ve used has also been very good. A refreshing change from some retail sectors. I have never minded paying slightly more for an experience that keeps my blood pressure level.
As @Taffy-on-Tour has already said, tarry at your peril! If a very good wine or whisky or whatever appears, don’t faff about, go for it!! Also, and related to this, keep a record of tasting notes, and use other resources - like here, or Cellartracker - to get up to date info on how a wine is drinking now. You will also learn what wines represent consistently good value for money in your taste preferences, and you can then assemble ‘vertical’ tastings.
Also, use the assembled wit and wisdom on here and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Yes! to point 4 - I always do this when I first try a new wine at home, getting to know the people involved, their philosophy, the viticulture and vinification techniques all adds to the experience. You even get to look at the vines from which you’re drinking too in this internet age!
Absolutely agree Mark. One of the areas in which I’ve specialised for the last 20 years is Chablis. Fevre, Billaud and Bichot are all favourites and I’ve had some excellent Chanson as well. It was the first region that I studied in detail when I got the bug! It’s also worth searching out some of the co-operative wines and I’ve had good experiences with La Chablisienne.
I buy smaller quantities of Grand Cru these days, trying to pick out the better PC’s as better value for money. Montee du Tonnerre being a good example of a PC that is nearly a GC in my opinion. Most of these are bought en primeur but I do keep an eye out for the odd bargain.
I’m probably teaching you to suck eggs but I filled my boots with 2014’s (to a ridiculous extent) as it was such a fabulous year. Got a lot of Les Clos from that vintage.
I stand by Brocard though as a value for money, every day wine and the recent 2017 Vielles Vignes VV46 tribute to Louis Petit (Jean refers to him as his ‘Spiritual Father’) is sublime.
But is this not part of the pleasure and the intrigue that accompanies wine? You have your favourites and I have mine. The really great thing is that we can further each other’s knowledge. Btw current stock of Chablis is 94 bottles. Is that good or bad?
Just had a quick check in the cellar records. Got six each of Billaud’s 17’ 18’ and 19’ Montee de Tonnerres (the 18’ and 19’ still to arrive as EP) and six 16’ Mont de Milieu’s . Happy days!
Love it Strawpig!
Hope its homemade! My Yorkshires are legendary in Nottinghamshire. It’s all too do with the politically incorrect beef dripping and a very hot oven. I am also a two egg man!
BrocklehurstJ…There may be not a sneaky corkscrew down there but some of the wines have screwcaps
Best dad ever!
My top two tips are exactly as yours. The difference between £5 and £10 is massive (or 6/12) and temperature is hugely underrated in importance - so much more than specific glassware.
You’re not the first person to mention the Society’s Champagne NV (and others) benefitting from a year or two, the fact you put it at 3 makes me again consider a case for reserves…
What would my third be? I definitely agree that research pays off. Not only in choices but just in enjoyment. Drinking Muga after seeing the Rioja Zoom made it infinitely better. Aged wine can be magical, even less expensive bottles. The 2009 Bordeaux blend from the last TWS Taste event on the Community for £13 was off the charts in beguilement for money.
I tell you what. Here’s mine:
- You can meet people from varying backgrounds and perspectives on life. With a shared interest in wine, you can connect and have great conversations over a glass. Whether online in the community, over Zoom or at a tasting or BYOB lunch (those were the days) the Society is full of individuals to share wine, passion and stories.
I use sunflower oil when there’s also sausages involved. After a conversation on here last time I made one (paired with a not very good Rioja), the next one is also going to have some black pudding in.
I couldn’t agree more with your number three danchaq and am really enjoying reading the contributions and replies from from other posters. I’d never considered a Rioja with my Toad-in-the-Hole strawpig. As long as you don’t make the batter with it I’m cool!
I can’t help it btw, here are another three observations and ponderings (OK, it’s a cheat but there you go).
- I’m a real fan of half bottles for trying something new or just as a mid-week, not over the top, couple of glasses of a little something. It’s slightly more expensive of course but I think its a small price to pay for the option. Two I would suggest looking out for are the excellent Domaine Jaume Vinsobres (which I buy en primeur every year) and the recently available Guigal bog-standard Cotes du Rhone. I know they make zillions of gallons of it (and the 16’ which was on offer is a bit heavy on the alcohol at 14.5%) but the extra age and the fact that half bottles tend to age quicker anyway made it a lovely purchase. I’ve also pictured a rather nice Gigondas which I get every year from La Tour Sarrasine (mentioned I believe by Taffy-on-tour). The Wine Society have a better than most selection of halves so give it a go if you haven’t already.
I hesitated before doing this one, but then I realised that in my early days I did not appreciate this. The year of the vintage really makes a difference! I’m stating the blinking obvious for you old hands but this one is aimed at very new wine drinkers. Many (many!) years ago, I bought a bottle of Louis Latour Marsannay on the way home at a village Spar. It was with some other ‘heavy bottle’ wines in a display case that looked out of place. I subsequently found out that the shop was trying a better range of wines on a sale or return basis with a local wine merchant. It was excellent and I went back every so often until it was all gone. A few more weeks passed and the shop owner said that he had got that wine back in that I liked. I won’t say that it was horrible but I was disappointed and noticed that it was from the following year. That was my first insight as to how fundamental the vintage is. I find the WS vintage chart really useful but I would also note that better producers can make excellent wine in ‘lesser’ years. Sadly the wine rack at the Spar disappeared. The shop-keeper commented that most people just wanted the Blue Nun or the Bulls Blood. Well we all had to start somewhere and I will admit to trying to impress a young lady once with a bottle of Mateus Rose
OK, this one will set a few people going I suspect. So before you get stirred up, this is only my personal view!
Decant or not…
I do decant many of my reds as well as some of my whites. My own experience is that the heavier the red wine and the older it is, at the very least I need to get rid of the sludge. A careful one-movement pour (so the wine does not rush back into the bottle and stir up the sediment) does the trick and I have become a dab hand at not leaving much for the fairies in the bottle.
Then follows a heated debate about getting air into the wine. My own taste-buds prefer all but the lightest and most delicate reds to be decanted and it is a personal judgement call as to how long to leave it before drinking. A fine pinot noir I would drink fairly quickly as I would not want to lose the delicate fruit. On the other hand, I have known Chateau Musar to be fabulous after two days in a jug! Most of my Penfolds reds I actually double decant (pour, rinse the bottle out and pour it back in) before I leave it for 1 to 4 hours depending on which one it is and its age (the older, the less time I give it). Another general rule for me is the more oak, the longer I tend to decant for.
Decanting whites? No, I don’t decant Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. I do decant Grand Cru Chablis and Australian Chardonnay. After all, Penfolds recommend it and who am I to argue with the winemaker. I also prefer vintage champagne after half an hour in the glass. Do I sit there with a stop-watch and a spreadsheet trying to time it precisely. No, these are general personal principles and I can always swirl it round the glass!
DON’T think too long about buy/ don’t buy - if you feel you will enjoy & find interest in the wine then buy it there and then - AND buy a few more maybe. So many times I have bought a single bottle and wished I had bought more before it was out of stock.
TWS is NOT a supermarket with huge stocks of the same product you can return to buy again and again.
Snooze… you lose.