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Cellar Defenders

Cellar Defenders, a phrase I have noticed in these pages - a good description for those bottles of everyday wine, which one keeps in the rack to prevent incursions into one’s stock of special bottles.

So for example, to keep my mits off the red Burgundy… I always have some Cru Beaujolais handy. Chablis is getting increasingly expensive, yet a good Muscadet can be a very acceptable alternative on a Friday evening (and TWS do have some very good Muscadet indeed).

So a simple question: which wines do you always keep by ?

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Languedoc reds and whites from a good producer and N Rhone CdR reds and whites tend to be my go to cellar defenders.

Oh and Burgundy of late. Whoops.

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Buying the same wine over and over isn’t something we tend to do.

However, after the Greek dinner at Stevenage the Society’s Greek appears more commonly than most the 2021 is excellent - MrsB loves it and guests are never disappointed when I get one out of the fridge.

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I never think of Rhone wines as cellar defenders. They are mainly what I live for!

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Mine is fairly obvious: William Fevre Chablis.

Wait, what? Chablis a cellar defender? I also classify cellar defenders as wine bought with the express purpose of drinking within a year or so (not aging).

It also helps that my partner loves the above Chablis. Hence, William Fevre is the only bottle - aside Guigal CDR - that can be considered a house wine.

The aforementioned Guigal is so ubiquitous that there is no point storing it. If I want a bottle, I’ll just pop to Tesco or TWS (dependent on time and day).

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Our cellar defenders are the ones that come out at the end of a dinner party when we have already had the good ones, people are a bit worse for wear, but want to keep drinking.

Here, that’s usually Palladino Biferno Rosso.

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At the moment, all cellar defences are down as I try to reduce home stocks to accommodate the lack of garage, but in the past I’ve often bought an own-brand mixed case for this purpose, which has always done a grand job.

Something like this:

https://www.thewinesociety.com/product/society-reds-case-57258b4b

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Similar case here in Casa do Strawpig. We both like trying ALL THE THINGS.

However, we do often have a case of Society’s White Rioja in as the most likely Cellar Defender/No Brainer. Red wise we usually have a bottle or two of some Blau Montsant, some Cave Polet Gamey, some Zorzal and either the Society’s or Corvino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in.

Usually for when we have guests as a later on in the night bottle, as we’re drinking a lot less and have been drinking the good stuff far more regularly.

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I find a hard stare, a slightly raised eye-brow or a barely discernible shake of the head from my tea-total spouse a fairly effective cellar defender on occasion.

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Never heard the term?
I just obey the commands of Mrs S and stand in the middle of the cellar and look around. Something usually finds its way into my hand!

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It’s a slightly strange concept. Drink worse wine to avoid drinking better wine! I just buy wine that I think I’ll enjoy drinking. It’s not quite as simple as that, as some bottles are destined for particular occasions, but they don’t need defending.

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If you are sceptical about whether you need some ‘cellar defenders’, just read this thread, and ask if a similar situation could happen to you…

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Likewise, I have no brand loyalty - however I tend to keep returning to the same wine A.C’s or wine styles (so Morgon for Beaujolais and rarely Fleurie). OK, its not even the same grape as Red Burgundy, but tends to work well with similar food - for at least half the price.

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I like to think of it as drinking good wine (£12 ish) to avoid drinking excellent wine (£24 ++) especially as the excellent wine might need more cellar time & is out of stock. But I do appreciate this depends on the depth of ones pockets & how many bottles one opens in a week or month.

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I have not tried that - will be in my next mixed case.

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A small rack in the back kitchen at my place in France is my first line of cellar defence and is perennially stocked with Capmartin’s Chateau Barrejat vieux ceps Madiran (from the deli stall in the local market Halles), Maison Salasar blue label Crémant de Limoux (obtained in re-ordered cases from the cellar direct) and a generic Gascogne white blend which would usually have a SB, colombard, ugni B and chardonnay in equal proportions. (These are in the second lowest shelf left hand end in the local Intermarché; and usually though not always from the St Mont Plaimont co-op)

This resource is indispensable for reaching to when casual visitors turn up and end up staying for lunch or dinner, for example.

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Good sources of reliable wines that you don’t need to think too hard about before opening or age forever include, in/from my cellar:

  • non-riserva Chianti (incl Chiara Condello from over the border in Romagna)
  • nearly all Beaujolais
  • various red and white South African wines
  • all but the smartest Alto Piemonte and Valtellina
  • Nero d’Avola from Gulfi
  • white and red from Chateau Montfaucon (stocked by TWS)
  • Trocken (non-GG) and Kabinett Riesling
  • Domaine Treloar
  • Rioja, Barbera, Loire Cab Franc from all but the most premium producers
  • Thymiopoulos jeunes vignes
  • Bordeaux that isn’t from a grand appellation
  • Soave
  • Hautes-Cotes de Beaune/Nuits
  • Marsannay
  • The Macon
  • Weissburgunder
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Mmm, well I haven’t really got a cellar worth defending. So it’s less about cannons, more about cannon fodder, which could be anything from TWS at a tenner or less.

If defence ought to be conducted by a similar but lesser wine, then the few Bordeaux style wines I have worth ageing/keeping are being husbanded to maturity at the moment by Chateau de Camarsac 2018. For just under a tenner, this delivers a lot of concentrated fruit and a bit of oak. More of a Parker in your face style than old school, but I’m of with that and it delivers a fair amount of wine for your money.

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I’m indebted to @bluebeard, a comprehensive list of decent yet affordable styles ! because the sheer choice & variety from TWS is bewildering.

And from @mrptaylor a good Bordeaux for under a tenner. There might be hundreds of BDX in TWS lists but sadly I seem to keep picking the ‘meh’ ones.

Cheers!

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Hopefully I won’t be letting you down. Actually be interested to hear your own opinion if you buy it. Wine is so much a matter of personal taste. The other ones I’ve enjoyed sub £10 are the Argadens '16 and the Cap l’Ousteau of the same vintage but my view is the Camarsac is better than either.

I confess, I’ve also had a few ‘meh’ ones too…