Wines to get you in the festive spirit

November 02, 2018

Bruce Palling, Wine Editor for The Week Wines, has chosen six excellent wines from Lea & Sandeman for his November Collection. 

Bruce Palling, Wine Editor"Everybody knows by now that the UK is blessed with a plethora of international options when it comes to the world of wine. Only recently, I was recommending Chardonnay from Western India, not to mention superb pudding wines that are coming from places as far part as Sweden and Canada. However, it is well to remember what treasures are still to be drunk from the tried and tested locations in Europe and the New World.

This selection of half-a-dozen wines from Lea & Sandeman comes solely from France and New Zealand – and there is an abundance of exciting bottles here. Bordeaux has had to focus more on quality in recent years and it is a joy to be reminded of how satisfying a straightforward classical wine can be from that great region. And, of course, in the 19th century, the Fronsac region of Bordeaux was more famous than other right bank wines such as St Emilion and Pomerol.

In the 21st century, may I suggest that we stop calling wines from the Antipodes “New World”? These wines have been produced there for nearly two centuries. When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, New Zealand offers amazing value. Indeed, future vintages will only improve as the vines planted in the past couple of decades mature.


Bruce Palling
Wine Editor, The Week Wines

View the full collection here, or call Lea & Sandeman direct on 020 7244 0522 and quote “The Week”.


Rippon Sauvignon Blanc Central Otago, New Zealand 2016, 14%
£19.95 £16.90 per bottle - £202.80 per case of 12, saving £36.60
This is not a wine I have come across before but I was seriously impressed with its purity and intensity. Winemaker Nick Mills spent some time working with leading Burgundy producers and has made his wine 100% biodynamic which also means no pesticides or herbicides. There is the distinctive grapefruit taste of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but the extra balance and minerality makes this stand out from the crowd. Very high score from




Viré Clessé Quintaine Domaine Émilian Gillet, Burgundy 2015 14%
£22.50 £18.90 per bottle - £226.80 per case of 12, saving £43.20
This classification, originally part of Macon, is a mere 20 years old but the vines themselves are considerably older. These are bright, full-bodied white Burgundies that punch considerably above their weight with their heady honeyed flavour of pale stone fruits. Now under the control of Gautier Thénevet, his father Jean was perhaps the most famous producer of these compelling wines, which are ready for consumption now but would happily keep for five years or so.

Château Beaumont Les Pierrières 2017 Blaye, Bordeaux 14%
£11.95 £10.25 per bottle - £123 per case of 12, saving £20.40
Blaye used to distil most of its white grapes into Cognac, but there are still a couple of hundred hectares that still make dry white wine, predominantly from Sauvignon Blanc with a splash of Semillon grapes. This deliciously fresh wine comes from a five-acre plot and is remarkably cheap because the vintner cleverly uses barrels destined for his red wine, which is bottled slightly later. A perfect introduction to the much-neglected dry white wine of Bordeaux.

Château Carlmagnus, Fronsac 2011 14%
£19.95  £16.90 per bottle - £202.80 per case of 12, saving £36.60
I have always been a big fan of Fronsac, the relatively unknown neighbour of Right Bank classics such as Saint Emilion and Pomerol. I have fond memories of cases purchased for £50 in the Nineties, which still give pleasure two decades later. More robust than its neighbours, it is a 100% Merlot wine with broad shoulders, which is why it excels in this relatively light vintage elsewhere in Bordeaux. The perfect complement for any game birds or stews, it is a lively and great value addition to any cellar.

Pinot Noir The Crater Rim, Canterbury, New Zealand 13.5%
£14.95  £12.90 per bottle - £154.80 per case of 12, saving £24.60
Gone are the days when New Zealand Pinots tasted like computer copies of Burgundy. Located just outside Christchurch, the grapes for this wine come from Waipara and spend time in French barrels and are bottled without fining or filtration. This has remarkable depth with a pleasant mushroom undertow with elements of bacon and dark cherry – in other words, a classically earthy Pinot that is seriously savoury.

Château Poitevin cru Bourgeois Médoc 2012 13%
£17.95  £15 per bottle - £180 per case of 12, saving £35.40
Located right at the northern tip of the Médoc, this Claret has all of the characteristics that you’d hope to find in straightforward well-made Bordeaux. This vineyard has been run by the same family since its creation in the Fifties and consists of 100 acres on the gravelly banks of the Gironde River. Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with additional Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it’s well rounded and harmonious without needing further bottle age. If you have neglected Bordeaux in favour of more exotic destinations, this might be the wine to remind you of what you are missing.

View the full collection here, or call Lea & Sandeman direct on 020 7244 0522 and quote “The Week”.




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