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Cellar Defenders

Zalze Syrah Mourvèdre Viognier is a brilliant cellar defender. I reckon the criteria are: Easily obtainable (Coop and Waitrose do it), looks smart enough to be presentable, but actually reasonably inexpensive. Accessible enough that everyone will like it, but good enough that you’ll like it too. But not so good that you’ll zone out of the conversation to concentrate on it, making surreptitious notes on your phone (one of my less attractive habits), or feel irked if it gets captured by someone else. Most Society label wines would fit the bill too I reckon.


That’s exactly what I’m talking about ! a good definition.

Incidentally, this is a VERY good dry Chenin at Waitrose, has those beeswax & honey notes despite being absolutely dry and fresh. Picked up a bottle at the weekend and when I went back for more, was o.o.s.


Yes. I like it too.

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Probably actually a post for the “what’s in your basket?” thread but also relevant here:

Some old favourites. some new to me. My cellar defender prices seem to be creeping up too.


Lot’s of stuff I’d agree with here…

stuff I drink at under £20 a bottle…

Rieslings… German, Alsace and Austrian. Dry and Kabinett

Macon Chardonnay

All sorts of Beaujolais and other Gamay (Cote de Brouilly, Massif Central etc)

Straight non reserve Chianti Classico and Rufina

Fitou and St Chinian Reds

Hungary, Bulgaria and especially Greece

But I’m always up for something new to try so I rarely buy any one wine in large quantities…


I’d put the Thym jv and portugese society red in too


I have a few of the JV already. The Portuguese Red would have been a good shout though!

St Cosme CdR at 5 years old for £10.95 is a great option. Almost too good to be a cellar defender! I feel the same way about the Exhibition Chenin and NZ Chardonnay. Affordable, but too good to open for just anybody… :wink: That’s probably a different thread though…


I think of cellar defenders as the wines that are ready to drink (or good to drink young). They defend against the temptation to tackle too early something that will improve with cellaring.

I’m not convinced it’s about price, personally, although wines made to drink young do seem to be more affordable.

Things like the Society’s Exhibition Soave, CdR Bout d’Zan, Bellavoine’s red Burgundy - those are the sorts of wine that fit the bill and justify easy purchases of 12. To be honest, I’d look forward to a glass of them almost as much as one of the flashier wines.


The cellar defenders defend against disappointment ie the risk you take with trying a wine early in its drinking window or high priced wine. They almost always represent the easiest choice. Least emotional gamble. You expected they were going to only be ok and over deliver.

Fine wines with larger price tags introduce jeopardy


Very nicely put.


Just pondering what Spanish would be a cellar defender …. Society rioja crianza maybe …??


Most of the Spanish companies do a handy swatch book of wines to fulfil this very need… Alberdi keeps your hands off Ardanza, which drinks beautifully in the time it takes the 904 to become approachable, which paves the way for a peek at a 890 (and so on through the CVNE, Muga and LdH colours :smiley: )


I fear you are aiming too high. Lidl do a cross section of Rioja raging from Jovan, Crianza, Reserva, G Reserva & Blanco, from £4.49 to an eye watering £8.49. Somebody somewhere must be losing money.


Agree with this.

For me cellar defenders are <£10, food-friedly and easily replenished. Usually in one of the following categories:

  • Rose (usually Provence or Spain) for spring/summer drinking
  • Aromatic white (riesling/gruner/pinot gris etc) to go with stir frys, noodles and other SE Asian-style food & fish/seafood
  • High-acidity red with a bit of fruit (usually Italian, possibly greek or portugese) to go with pizza, pasta & duck
  • More ‘chunky’ red (usually S. Rhone or S. France, possibly Spain) to go with sausages, pies, stews, chops etc
  • Dry sherry - Morrisons OL Fino the undisputed champion here (£5.70!).

Increasingly I find that if I’m not taking advantage of supermarket offers, TWS’ Portugese selection is the go to for much of this.


Zorzal Garnacha and Graciano are both great value at sub-£10.


For me probably


No idea what vintages they’re on now!


Glorioso Reserva, if that isn’t out of budget! You would soon forget about the grander wines with a glass of this. Delicious!