Posted on 26.04.20 #147

Wines for lockdown: my selection for the BBC’s Bill Buckley

Once again this month poor old Bill has to endure me doing all the tasting, as I’ll be contributing to our wine hour from home. And it’s going to be torture for him as it’s a stellar selection!

Champagne sales are in steep decline as a result of coronavirus, but given that we are doing our drinking at home, I think it’s the perfect time to splash out a bit, providing we can afford to (and I appreciate that’s not the case for everyone), especially when we can bag a bit of a bargain. Gosset Grand Reserve Brut Champagne (Waitrose, currently £40, normally £50, but it’s on promo at 20% off until May 5th) comes from the oldest wine house in the region, founded in 1584 and making Champagne since the 18th century. A blend of the 3 Champagne grapes, the Chardonnay brings elegance and finesse, there’s structure from Pinot Noir, with a crunchy green apple character, and the Meunier probably brings the notable freshness. As ever with Champagne, the magic’s in the blending and this is just delicious.

I don’t know whether it’s because we’re crying into it at the moment, but the gin boom continues a pace and I have noticed the supermarkets getting more daring with their own ranges. Tesco Finest ‘The Melodist’ London Dry Gin (Tesco stores and online £20) is a good example. There’s a distinctive nod to ‘The East’ here, with lemongrass and matcha notes genuinely complementing the juniper and grapefruit rind. The overall effect is exotic on the nose and relatively delicate on the palate. It’s also beautifully packaged, with real shelf appeal.

I have long believed that white Bordeaux is criminally underrated (read more about that here), so as spring has sprung, now is a great time to indulge. The timing couldn’t be better, as it’s one of the few wines that works well with English asparagus, just in season. G de Guiraud, 2017 (£17.95 online at Davy’s Wine Merchants – is a lovely example. A mix of Semillon and Sauvignon, this offers fresh grass, gooseberry and honeysuckle, with a beautiful textured mouthfeel. Spring in a glass!

Finally, a crunchy red that can take a gentle chill from one of my favourite grapes, Cabernet Franc, and also the story of how wine importers are adapting fast to protect their livelihoods. Domaine Guion, Bourgueil, 2018 (normally £20, but around £15 in a mixed ‘essentials’ case from comes from a red-only appellation in the Loire Valley. Once famous for relatively straightforward wines, its reputation has grown thanks to producers like Domaine Guion, who farm organically. I just love the fresh red fruit here – it’s a lovely summer red. It’s available as part of a mixed case at Tiger Vines, a small importer that usually supplies restaurants, but has now started delivering wine to your door. It’s a great opportunity to create your own restaurant wine list at home!

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