A wine case that offers the best of the Bunch

Date:08-04-2014 07:58:05 read:0

A wine case that offers the best of the Bunch

Buy a special box of the best value, best-tasting wines selected by me from smaller merchants around the country

Bunched: (l-r) Charles Lea, James Tanner, Alastair Marshall, Vicky Williams from Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow’s Adam Brett-Smith and Jason Yapp seal the deal Photo: Martin Pope

The Bunch is a group of six independent wine merchants, ranged around the country from Southwold to Somerset, Shrewsbury to St James. They have no connection other than the fact that they get together once a year or so to show their wines at tastings. And a few weeks ago they came to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse.

One of the frustrations for readers when I write about wines from smaller shops is that unless they happen to be local, trying them involves either the risk of ordering a whole box of the same stuff or spending time choosing other (unendorsed) wines from that same shop to mix a case.

“How would it be,” said The Bunch, “if you pick two wines that you love from each of us, and we look after all the delivery logistics, which frankly will be an expensive nightmare, but we will do it, and we won’t charge for it, so that rather than emailing you crossly when you recommend our wines, Telegraph readers can have the opportunity to order a box containing wines from six different shops, as a taster to introduce them to what we can all do?”

This was obviously such a fantastic idea that I said yes straight away. Then of course I had to choose the wines. This involved quite a lot of tasting. It also proved much harder than anticipated. There were just too many that I liked. And I didn’t just want great wines, I wanted a great mix of wines. Plus I wanted the wines to represent the strengths and particularities of each merchant.

So here goes. First off, Adnams (they are the Southwold-based beer people). I think of Adnams as the Boden catalogue of wine. It is brilliant for everyday-bottles-with-an-upgrade: well-made, rounded, cosy reds and friendly whites. I expect to spend £8-£10 a bottle here. “Yes,” said their buyer Alastair Marshall, who with his shaggy beard and hearty smile looks as if he’s about to run up a Jolly Roger. “We just seem more comfortable delivering a great wine in the mid-range, than in the top or bottom.”

I was thrilled with the Adnams two – a sumptuous red Costières de Nîmes, a sweetly ripe blend of grenache and syrah, that tastes a pound more expensive than it costs, plus a bouncy Spanish white.

From Berry Bros & Rudd, which, as Britain’s oldest wine merchant, has been around even longer, I picked one red: a luscious and velvety Priorat made by the feted Alvaro Palacios and Berry’s Own Label sparkling wine from Limoux, because I know how much Telegraph readers love Limoux fizz – and this is a pristine example.

Now. Corney & Barrow. Their box of samples sat in my kitchen for ages before I dared to open it. I was frightened of them. That might sound daft but C&B have some amazing, very top-end agencies, such as Domaine de la Romanee Conti and Salon Champagne. We are talking the wine equivalent of a Cadogan Square address here. They also sell the sinewy, textured Achaval Ferrer, currently my favourite Argentine malbec (I put that in The Case, of course I did). But value for money at under a tenner? I didn’t think so. I expected to find perfectly nice wines but think, “My readers would be just as happy with Tesco finest* and they’d pay £2 less a bottle.” That wouldn’t have been OK and the whole project would have been off. Happily, I found a white in the form of a dangerously good Italian fiano that has apparently been going gangbusters in the restaurants supplied by C&B.

Lea & Sandeman was tricky, too. This is my local wine merchant. Specialising in — but not limited to — champagne, Italy, Bordeaux and burgundy, it has so many delicious bottles I couldn’t make my mind up. The first choice had to be the delicate Made in Provence rosé that proved such a hit last summer that it sold out by June. I agonised over the second, eventually going for a lively dolcetto that will have you reaching for a slab of pink tuna to throw on the griddle.

From Tanners, who have been selling wines to the good people of Shrewsbury since 1872, I picked a sturdy cabernet sauvignon from Chile and their gooseberry-scented own-label sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Finally, on to Yapp Brothers in Mere, specialists in regional France and Corsica. Yapp is run by two brothers who are as good at drinking wine as they are at buying it. I’m often tempted by their dreamy £15-£20 wines – the white Cassis, the red Richeaume. But I’ve kept to a more sensible budget here and picked a fresh, clean Picpoul de Pinet and a red from the Côtes de Thongue that, being a blend of merlot, grenache and carignan, is a marriage of bordelaise and Mediterranean flavours.

A case containing one bottle of each of these 12 wines, including delivery, costs £127. It can be ordered from or by calling 01743 234455. Neither I nor the Telegraph are making any money from this offer – it’s just on the page because we like it. And of course, the wines can be bought individually in the usual way. Only you’d better hurry. A fixed number of cases have been packed – and once they’re gone, they’re gone.



1 Château Cadenette 2012 Costières de Nîmes, 14%, France; £7.99

2 Basa Blanco Vinos Telmo Rodriguez 2012, Rueda, Spain, 13%; £8.99

Berry Bros & Rudd

3 Camins del Priorat Alvaro Palacios 2011/12, Spain, £14.63 (case price inc 10% reduction)

4 Crémant de Limoux NV, France; £10.75 (case price inc. 10% reduction)

Corney & Barrow

5 Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2012, Chile; £15.50

6 Masseria Bianca Fiano 2012 Italy; £8.95

Lea & Sandeman

7 MiP Made in Provence Classic Rosé Domaine Sainte Lucie 2013, France; £10.95 (case price inc. 10% reduction)

8 Dolcetto d’Alba Bric del Salto Sottimano 2012, Italy; £12.25 (case price)


9 Cucao Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Central Valley Reserva, Chile,13.5%; £8.20

10 Tanners New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%; £9.95


11 Côtes de Thongue Domaine Les Filles de Septembre 2013, Languedoc-Roussillon, France,13%; £9.75

12 Domaine Gaujal Picpoul de Pinet 2013, France,13.5%; £9.75

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013