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.
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.
Pinot Noir is the most temperamental grape, but New Zealand is showing that Burgundy isn’t the only place to find great examples. Moa Ridge is made from the younger vines of Clayvin Vineyards; co-managed by Johnny Wheeler and one of the most renowned Pinot producers in Marlborough. The depth of flavour, with blackberry fruit and a hint of smoke, makes this the equal of a Village Wine from Burgundy and is a brilliant introduction to what can be achieved in other parts of the world. The saving on this case is unbelievable, too - one more reason you should buy a case immediately.
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.