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01 November 2021

The Wine Society: 3 whites, 3 rosés, 3 reds.

These nine varied wines are available from the Wine Society in the UK (and some of them from other wine stores and in other countries), which I became a member of recently, and represent my favourites from a first mixed case purchased (I picked each wine but you can order from several pre-selected options). To join, you simply pay a £40 one-off lifetime membership fee which also entitles you to £20 discount off your first order no less, then have some fun choosing from their hugely extensive international range of reasonably priced wines. These include the Society's own bespoke labels and very many winery bottlings from £6 to £500. This up until relatively recently unique organisation proudly claims to be: "The world's oldest member-owned community of wine lovers. Since 1874 we've been doing business differently, putting our members before profit." Thus they operate like a co-operative, and each member becomes a shareholder as such. Delivery is free on orders of minimum 12 bottles or £75 in value, and membership also gives you access to special tastings and events.

White wines

Grillo 'Isola della Fiamma' 2020 Cantine Rallo, Sicilia (12.5% abv): Characteristic of sexy local grape Grillo 'grown in coastal vineyards in western Sicily and a small addition of aromatic Zibibbo,' as they call Alexandrian Muscat on the island. Lees-y aromatic nose with apricot, nectarine and honeysuckle, fresh and crisp mouthfeel with bitter twist rounded by a lusher nuttier side. The next day open, it was less yeasty with more pronounced apricot and peach fruit. Not the greatest Grillo I've tried for sure but at £6.50, it's easy on the wallet as well as the palate.
Vermentino di Sardegna 'Iocalia' 2020 Azienda Agricola Melis (13.5% abv): Continuing with Italian island classic varieties made in an unoaked way, this full-bodied Vermentino hails from the southwest of Sardinia. Rounded, quite rich and nutty, fairly powerful for an aromatic white with salty appley nuances, dry hazelnutty style with yeasty mineral undertones. £9.50. Image: Vermentino vines from melisvini.it.
The Society's Greek White
2020 Semeli estate, Nemea, Peloponnese (12% abv): Moschofilero and Roditis grapes are 'grown on slopes at 450 metres above sea level in organic vineyards.' Winemaker Leonidas Nassiakos created this zingy juicy and crisp wine, citrus peel grapey Muscat and white peach aromas and flavours, light elegant and fresh finish with oilier texture too. A classic fish and seafood wine (and probably chips too). £8.50

Rosé wines

'Maré Viva' Rosé 2020 Adega de Redondo, Alentejo, Portugal (12.5% abv): Zesty pink grapefruit with strawberry, cherry and marzipan notes, dry and crisp finish. Made from the Aragonez and Castelão varieties. Great value at £6.50.
Saumur Rosé 'Les Plantagenets' 2020 Loire Valley, France (Cabernet Franc, 13% abv): Elegant and crisp, creamy red fruit and almond flavours, well-made characterful dry rosé. £7.50
Viña Zorzal Garnacha Rosado
2020 Navarra, Spain (13.5% abv): Proper full-bodied dry rosé from its spiritual home (Navarra and Catalonia usually produce Spain's best pink wines, often based on Garnacha / Grenache), full-on in (deep) colour, fruitiness and mouth weight with lots of sweet red fruit flavours then dry punchy rounded finish. A foodie rosado as they say, e.g. with smoked salmon, gnocchi and pesto. £7.25

Red wines

These three reds come from a few different northern Roussillon vineyard locations. Profiles of these wineries and notes on their other wines and previous vintages can be found in my book on the Roussillon (tap for more).

'Expression Lesquerde' Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2019 Collection Terroirs, Vignobles d'Agly: Produced by a consortium of co-op wineries in the Agly Valley centred on Estagel, this blend showcases how Syrah is performing in the Lesquerde zone (50% of the wine grown on granite hillsides) with Carignan and Grenache making up the rest, and no oak used in the winemaking. Enticing herby minty black cherry fruit, ripe and spicy with savoury edges, a touch of dry grip and freshness too but this is dark fruity and liquorice-y, full and rounded with light bitter twist; very drinkable now. Good value: £8.50 (€8.80 cellar door).
Domaine Jones Grenache Noir 2019 'Vieilles Vignes' IGP Côtes Catalanes (14.5% abv): This 'Grenache Noir and a tiny bit of Carignan' is sourced from Katie Jones' first old vine plot (purchased in 2009) in the hills over Maury. Maturing spicy nose offering ripe cherries and berries with liquorice and black olive edges, sweet fruit flavours underpinned by enticing savoury development and lightly firm tannins, a touch of oomph on its spicy finish with lingering and subtly concentrated kirsch fruit. Delicious now although will keep nicely for a year or two, well-balanced despite its intrinsic power. Decent match with calf's liver fried in garlic and herb butter. £11.95 / £13.50 (€14 in France). Image from domainejones.com.
'Coume Marie' La Préceptorie 2019 Côtes du Roussillon, Les Vins Parcé Frères (15% abv): Sumptuous Grenache and Carignan from this celebrated wine estate (based in St. Paul de Fenouillet) are fermented in tanks and aged in old barrels, which don't impart oak flavours to this pure-fruited powerful spicy red with fragrant ripe kirsch and black cherry / blueberry fruit, peppery liquorice and lush fruit on the palate with light grip and bitter twist, lingering rounded weighty finish. Another very enjoyable-now 2019 red that wouldn't be harmed by spending a further year in bottle. Went pretty well with spicy char sui pork chow mein. £12.50

Other recent reviews of 2019 Roussillon reds: Domaine of the Bee.

More Wine Society wine recommendations to follow probably.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.