FROM being a threat on the horizon, we are now having to live with the consequences of Covid-19 an almost minute-by-minute basis. For the wine trade, and many other businesses, it could well be a disaster.
The Government’s decision to close pubs and restaurants would, for many wine wholesalers, appear a well-lit path to bankruptcy. On the other hand, the spiralling rise in the price of Burgundy has largely been fuelled by collectors from the Far East. There may well be a collapse in prices, but seeing the collapse in the value of investments over the past weeks, will we be able — or even want — to pay the lower prices?
As you read this, I should have been enjoying a week’s wine-tasting in Alsace, but this was not to be. At least I now know my sentence: 14 days’ detention for a cough, and three months for being over 70; the two to run concurrently. I think I have enough reserves of wine to see me through this, although for many it might be a worry. Paradoxically, I am suggesting that you might buy up a stage. Given the high basic rate of duty on wine in this country, every little bit extra that you spend on a bottle of wine is more than reflected in the basic cost of the wine itself.
Some of the supermarket chains run a range of superior levels of wine under a team title such as Taste the Difference, for Sainsbury’s, or Exquisite Selection, for Aldi, and these genuinely represent wines of which the buyers can be proud. This is picked up in the annual publication of the Association of Wine Educators 100 Awesome Wines 2020. (Copies of this booklet are available free from the Association, firstname.lastname@example.org).
For example, among their white wine recommendations are Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference white Côtes du Rhône at £8; a big contrast to Morrison’s the Best Gruner Veltliner 2017 from Austria at £8.25; and Aldi’s Exquisite Selection Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2018 at £6.99. Rather more exotic, and pricey, is Sainsbury’s TTD Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint 2016 at £10. As can be seen, the range of sources is wide.
For red wines, Sainsbury’s seems to rule the roost, with praise coming for their simple TTD Languedoc 2018 at £7; and the TTD German Pinot Noir from Rheinhessen at £8. Among the sparkling wines is Aldi’s EC Crémant du Jura 2015 at£7.99, made from 100-per-cent Chardonnay; and a little-known sparkling wine from Italy, Tesco Finest Franciacorta Brut NV at £15.
This booklet is not just a treasure-trove of supermarket wines, it also features many wines from the Wine Society and other independent merchants, but it is also a great introduction to sampling wines from lesser-known producing countries such as Georgia and Slovenia. If you find that the prices are too high, then you can just enjoy reading it for free — and that is the best bargain I can offer you this month.