CARPE diem is a motto dear to my heart and as soon as I ascertained that M&S were offering 25 per cent off six bottles or more, I wended my way to Chichester to avail myself of said offer.
It is, on these occasions, opportune to procure bottles one normally resists owing to due parsimony and the bottle prices quoted herewith assume they are at least one of six purchased to trigger the reduction.
French wines being invariably quite expensive, I decided to focus exclusively on Gallic ones in order to maximise my savings and began with a 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Domaine Jacky Marteau from its Touraine heartland. For an offer price of £7.50 I was intrigued to try a traditional French Sauvignon Blanc and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this wine bursting with good citrus flavours. Round, flavoursome, good minerality and consistency and with a hint of creaminess, this wine is produced from grapes grown on the premium left bank of the River Cher and is soft and supple in the mouth and should not remotely disappoint.
My next selection is almost counter intuitive on my part, as I am fully aware of the Chablis hierarchy ranging from Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Chablis and Petit Chablis in descending order.
This hierarchy is topographical in nature depending on the type of soil and the location with aspect and slope major factors as principally the steeper and more south – facing the slope, the riper and higher quality the grapes will be.
Burgundy is subject to harsh winters and therefore the amount of sun affects the quality of the wine. But the key differentiator is soil quality – Chablis, Premier Crus and Grand Crus are grown on limestone formed in the upper Jurassic era or Kimmeridgian while Petit Chablis is grown on recent Portlandian limestone and only became the fourth Chablis appellation in 1944. It is also erroneous to state that Petit Chablis is just lesser Chablis – it is different, being fresher, lighter and less complex for easy drinking and a good producer can bridge the gap .
This M&S Petit Chablis was decidedly fresh, clean and soft on the palate with young green apple and citrus flavours to the fore. A slight perfumy nose along with balanced acidity are other reasons why this wine is a great apéritif or Lord’s picnic wine and at an offer price of £8.25 a good buy, à mon avis!
My final white wine selection was in the upper echelons price-wise, namely a 2012 Domaine du Limont Saint – Aubin 1 er Cru on offer for 20 readies. St Aubin is a close neighbour of Montrachet, lying between Chassagne and Puligny, and is in the southern part of the Côte de Beaune, the heartland of great Burgundy whites.
Richness, without excessive unctuousness, affords it great fluidity in the mouth and this opulent wine with a creamy golden hue would be an ideal accompaniment to firm – textured fish and grilled crustaceans and a jolly nice libation on its own.
In terms of reds, I managed to espy a Côtes du Rhône Villages of 2016 vintage for an offer price of just £6.
This medium-bodied wine has pleasant dark summer fruits on the nose with a touch of spice and dark cherry and plum flavours – overall a good, fruity easy-drinking wine with hints of black pepper and a good buy at this price.
A Beaujolais then caught my eye in the form of a 2016 Fleurie at an offer price of circa £8.60. As a Cru du Beaujolais, this wine is in the highest quality classification in Beaujolais and has provenance from the hilly northern part of the area containing the best vineyards. Meaning ‘flowery’ in English, this wine has strong floral aromas and is a good example of a Fleurie wine, being light and juicy with red cherry and violet scents and prominent raspberry flavours and one you could even serve slightly chilled.
For my final red, I was enticed by a 2014 La Devine du Clos Cantenac Saint – Émilion Grand Cru on offer at a teasing £13.50. Damsons and black cherry on the nose, blackcurrant and blackberry notes abound with tobacco and leather combining to a long finish – a wine to buy either to consume or lay down for a year or two!
My bargain of the week, nevertheless, has to be an old favourite of mine – a Louis Vertay Brut Champagne on offer at a steal at just £12.50 and one you ought to stock up on for Christmas. Fine bubbles characterise this noteworthy Champagne, which is elegant, fruity and harmonious, with lovely red berries on the attack coupled with peach flavours and citrus notes on the finish – un vrai délice! Bottoms up!