There’s a group of explorers scouring the world, Wine Society buyers tracking down the best on offer from every continent, bringing wonderful tastes back to you and me in Blighty.
I think you’d be hard pushed to find anyone that does it better than the Wine Society. Terrific wines at pocket-happy prices.
A co-operative, founded in 1874, it is owned by its members, sells only to them. But it is far from exclusive. Just £40 brings life membership, opening some wonderful doors.
Take the Blind Spot range from vineyards across Australia.
The name Blind Spot refers to how the society’s Mac Forbes saw the potential in grapes which could have been blended into anonymity – but instead were made into terrific wines. Blind Spot Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro, 2011, Rutherglen (£7.50, 14%) is a Rhone blend, with spicy layers and unashamedly fruit driven.
Blind Spot Riesling, 2012, Clare Valley (£7.50, 12%) is delicate, dry, fresh, grapey and lapping in lime cordial. Clare Valley riesling can be a wonderful thing and this is a wonderful example, at a wonderful price.
Here are some other society selections: Côte Roannaise, Vieilles Vignes, 2012 Sérol (£8.50, 14%). Côte Roannaise is an appellation of the southern Loire. Gamay grapes, normally associated with beaujolais, thrive on sandy-granite soils. It is packed, packed, packed with red fruit. My notes said this wine reminded me of the delicious fruit running through the summer pud Eton Mess – but without the mess. I actually wrote that down.
The Foundry Roussanne, Stellenbosch, 2011 (£11.50, 13.5%). Think of the roussanne grape as a shy young lady, meek alongside her bolder, more confident friends. She is usually blended in the Rhône where she adds lift and perfume. In this wine from South Africa she is the solo feminine star. A lovely wine, with refreshing acidity, green fruits and tongue-tip dry green apple skins.
Prince Stirbey Tamâioasa Româneasca Sec, 2012 (£9.50, 13.5%) I can write it, I can’t pronounce it, though I certainly enjoyed it. This white from the foothills of Romania abounds with tantalising tangerines, is very citrussy to taste with a dry, pithy, grapefruit bite.
Faldeos Nevados Torrontés, 2012 (£7.50, 14%) is a blend of grapes from across three Argentine valleys. On the nose, peach and citrus whisper and in the mouth their gentleness mingles with a richness similar to viognier. Think luxurious sherbert dip.
Finally, Curto Barbera D’alba la Foia, 2011 , (£.8.50, 14%). Violets, spicy fruit, a pot pourri of rose petals and red liquorice – you know, the childhood shoelace ones.
You can find out more about the society at www.thewinesociety.com or call 01438 741177.
First published in the saturday magazine, May 18, 2013