RICHARD ESLING APRIL 28: More wine supplies for our stay at home meals
Recent reports in the wine industry trade journal The Drinks Business indicate the extent of the coronavirus pandemic on the drinks industry.
With restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés closed, sales of alcoholic drinks have fallen off a cliff. Meetings in Europe are discussing ways forward for top wine producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain, all of which have been hard hit by consequences of the lockdown. With massive stocks sitting in warehouses and producers’ premises, much of which is still in storage vats, one scenario being seriously considered is distillation.
The weather in Europe has been at least as good as here in the UK in past weeks and the vines are off to a great start, with no frost damage and little disease from humidity. Harvesting this year will start in as little as four to five months’ time in some regions, but at the moment there is nowhere to put it. Hence the possibility of distillation of current unsold stock. But the figures are staggering- as much as a billion litres!
All this has led to both producers and importers starting or increasing sales direct to the consumer, with trade customers being shut. All the French producers I represent as agent in the UK have ramped up their direct sales and are delivering to consumers in their local areas. A couple of weeks back, I talked about Berckmann wine importers selling direct to the public and another company in Sussex has just started doing the same.
Two directors of a wine importer and wholesaler have constructed a website for direct consumer sales of the stock they normally sell only to the restaurant and pub trade. www.redwhiteandcru.wine has an interesting range of great quality wines available for home delivery, with a minimum order of just six bottles. Delivery is only £7.95 or free for orders over £100. Based near Crawley and Turner’s Hill, the company uses its own vans for local deliveries or couriers for those further afield.
Most of the wines are directly imported and are top quality, representing fabulous value for money. Three wines from the Loire Valley are particularly impressive, being classic examples of their type and amongst the top wines produced in each area. The Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre and Sauvignon de Touraine are all single vineyard Domaine wines and highly recommended. I have to admit to some bias as I am the UK agent for these wines, but they were all selected for their high quality, purity of flavour and value for money.
With regards to reds, there are some great wines with wacky names, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face as well as joy to your tastebuds. The Butcher of Buenos Aires is a classic Malbec from Argentina, with delicious ripe fruit flavours, soft tannins and long finish. Happily no association with the leader of the 1976 military coup who presided over the deaths of 30,000 people, but the favourite wine of Marcos, a purveyor of fine Argentinian beef.
Outnumbered is the name of an amazingly well priced (£10 on offer) Pinot Noir from Wairarapa in New Zealand, referring to the fact that sheep, introduced in 1773 by Captain Cook, outnumber people by six to one. Fine tannins and subtle complexity. But the ultimate teaser has to be a Californian wine named Zin-Phomaniac. The description on the bottle tells all! “The scantily clad bottle tempts you, its secrets yet to be revealed… arousing aromas, bold and voluptuous mouth feel. A long satisfying climax…When you just gotta have it!”
Zinfandel, that is!