A vintage year
Above: a selection of wines at 67 Pall Mall
Navigating the world of wine can seem like a minefield. To the uninitiated, it’s a labyrinth of confusing terminology and wildly divergent price points, and there can be a degree of snobbery among those in the know. Yet if there’s one thing that almost all experts say, it’s that the only way to learn is to try more wines – and that’s a philosophy we can definitely get on board with. Here are a few good places to start…
Berry Bros. & Rudd is a good bet for classic wines, such as its best-selling Good Ordinary Claret (£9.75 a bottle), a highly drinkable modern Bordeaux. There are some great smaller suppliers, too, including Borough Wines, which has expanded from a stall in Borough Market to establish branches across London and Hastings, and is known for its pioneering refill system. Or why not sign up to a monthly subscription service to ensure a steady supply of new wines delivered to your door? We like Le Petit Ballon (from £24.90 for two bottles a month), whose wines are all vetted by a former master sommelier at The Ritz, and Tanners’ Wine in Time Club (from £90 for a 12-bottle case), whose buyers select seasonal wines at a frequency that suits you.
The new vintages
A selection of Sassicaia vintages. Image: Etienne Hunyady
Among the new launches to know about is the release of the 2014 Sassicaia vintage, an elegant wine from Tenuta San Guido with cherry and raspberry aromas and notes of sage and rosemary, available exclusively from the boutique merchant Armit Wines. This year also sees the launch of some eminently collectable bottles: art-lovers will already have heard the news that David Hockney has created the label for Château Mouton Rothschild’s 2014 vintage with a design that pays tribute to its longtime owner Baroness Philippine de Rothschild; while the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto has produced a striking label for Super Tuscan Ornellaia’s latest vintage.
David Hockney’s label for Château Mouton Rothschild
Where to drink
The bar at 67 Pall Mall
For those who are serious about getting into wine, 67 Pall Mall is the ultimate club to join, with three floors of beautifully designed spaces; members are supplied with iPads to search the award-winning wine list, which comes with helpful tasting notes and critics’ scores. Other London venues recognised for having superb wine lists include The Greenhouse, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant serving fine French cuisine in the heart of Mayfair, and the recently revived wine bar Noble Rot in Clerkenwell, which offers more than 25 wines by the glass.
If you’re keen to learn the basics, the London Wine Academy’s introductory course (£110) is the perfect place to start, while gastronomes will enjoy the gourmet wine-and-food matching experience (£159). The leading auction houses Christie’s runs an excellent beginners’ course (£215), and Sotheby’s offers courses focused on either regions or grapes (from £240). Outside London, try the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, which enables you to study for a wide range of qualifications in locations across the country and internationally.
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