IT APPEARS that the wine trade has been one of the beneficiaries from the lockdown — or, at least, some branches of the wine trade. While, on the one hand, it has been reported that wine consumption has increased by as much as 13 per cent, those wholesalers who have relied on pubs and restaurants for their trade have seen sales drop to zero.
It seems that many of us have been content to sit back and rely on the mail-order companies for our consoling bottles. On this occasion, I thought I would focus on them.
Naked Wines is one of the big successes of the mail-order wine world. Its rather different selling-point is that it asks its customers to invest £20 a month, which is then passed on to up-and-coming wine-makers around the world. Unfortunately, when I logged into its website and entered my individual code and password, the reply came “Out of stock”; so I could go no further.
My regular mail-order supplier is Avery’s, in Bristol, which, after a long and sometimes perilous existence in the wine trade, has now become part of the Laithwaites/Sunday Times Wine Club empire. Once a quarter, I receive a case of its “Signature Collection” red wines. Why do I buy from Avery’s? The selection always includes some fascinating wines that I would never dream of buying normally. The other reason is that the current figurehead of the company is Mimi Avery. Her first exposure to the wine trade was working for me, and I like to support my alumnae.
The firm’s last offering included a Malbec from Argentina; a young, fruity Beaujolais, ideal for summer drinking; and a full-bodied Australian wine, XV Pure 2018 (£9.99). It is this last wine that I would like to write about. It comes from the McPherson Winery, in the Ngambie Lakes region of the Murray Irrigation area. As the river is the boundary between the states of Victoria and New South Wales, and the wine is described as coming from south-east Australia, it would seem that the grapes have come from both sides of the river. The highly rated winery was established in 1993 by Andrew McPherson and Alister Purbrick, of the historic Tahbilk winery in South Australia, and sells little of its wine in Australia itself, relying on export markets.
The wine is a powerful 15 per cent ABV, and, because of the tolerances allowed, this might mean that it is anything between 14.5 and 15.5 per cent — the maximum permitted before coming under a higher rate of duty. It has rich heavy damson flavours, with hints of eucalyptus and mint. It is ideal for summer barbecues, but I suggest that you have a hammock available for afterwards.
As for the name: I have my doubts. Is it intended to conjure up the image of a virginal rugby team, or to emphasise the strength of the wine? I fear that it is the latter, and that leaves an uncomfortable taste in my mouth.