My most recent box from the Wine Society arrived a few weeks back. The parcel it’s always fun to unpack. I am a major fan of the Wine Society, which not only carries a huge variety of wine at all prices and has great customer service, but lists prices generally so competitive it must enrage other wine merchants with more conventional commercial drivers. (The Wine Soc is a cooperative, owned by its members, and can therefore invest profit in keeping prices down and improving facilities rather than in paying fat dividends to shareholders. Crazy idea. How wise of successive governments to suck the life out the cooperative movement in the interests of a hegemonic capitalist elite.)
In the spirit of mutuality therefore, can I mention a few of the many wines from the Wine Soc I’ve enjoyed in the past year or two?
The ones we’re drinking at the moment are, red-wise, Quinta das Bageiras Bairrada 2010 (£7.50, 13 per cent abv), The Society’s Corbieres 2013 (£7.50, 14 per cent abv), and Vina Zorzal Graciano Navarra 2012 (£6.95, 13.5 per cent abv).
The Bairrada isn’t what I was expecting. I’m modestly interested in Portuguese wine and like to try new ones and I suppose – for the reds – I tend to expect lots of sweet, ripe fruit, very delicious and warming. This red – though delicious – has a much more noticeable belt of acidity. In a good way. I could imagine chilling this one slightly and drinking it with a plate of air-dried ham and olives. It reminded me of some of the lighter, juicier Italian reds I like – barbera and so on. In fact, I have a bottle of the Wine Soc’s Dogliani Allagiornata, Clavesana 2013 (£7.50, 13.5 per cent abv) in the cupboard (a favourite) and I might try that side-by-side with the Bairrada, just to see if I’m talking rubbish again.
For soemething completely different try the Society’s Corbieres. This is lethally drinkable. Pour a glass and the bottle will be gone before you know it. It’s round and juicy with a sweet lick of alcohol and a little dry herbiness to keep it balanced.
The one I keep reordering though is the Zorzal Graciano. This is Spanish and very good value. It has a little oak and tannin – just enough to give it bones – and good dark fruitiness. Undemanding but not boring. I don’t have a sort of house wine that I order by the case but if I did it would be this or something like it.
Obligatory fruit-based comparison: Bairrada – red cherry; the Corbieres – baked plum; the Graciano – damson with a touch of bay leaf.
A word too for the Jaspi Blanc Terra Alta 2013 from northern Spain (£7.95, 13.5 per cent abv). I paid £8.95 for this and three minutes later the Wine Society reduced the price by a quid. Grrrrr. But let me not be begrudging – it’s really good stuff at either price. Unoaked, a little roundness, dry, and long. Fruit-wise, it’s apparently quince. I’m not familiar with quince so we’ll go with peach fading to lemon.