Only the best wine of 2021 for us richies

The first shall be last and vice versa. So the Good Book says and so says your humble wine correspondent, Raymond Gleug.

Saturday, 15th January 2022, 6:00 am

Lo and behold, it came to pass that last week, in the first of my columns this year, I doled out gongs for the best red, white and sparkling wines tasted in 2021 which were selling for below £10. A working man’s price. Last week’s column was for poor people, for all you little people out there who generally get ignored or patronised. All the little guys and gals. You see, round here the small fella gets to go first.

Anyway, now that the peasants have had their turn, we true connoisseurs and aficionados can get round to the serious business. Goodbye, little people. I love you very much but it’s time to take out the really good stuff, the bottles that only the more affluent among us can afford. Of course, I am aware that in these uncertain times of Covid and Brexit, even we richies have to be a little more prudent with our slush funds so I haven’t gone for anything too exorbitant. Nothing over £20. As an aside, my very dear wealthy friends, the price of wine is almost certain to rise significantly this year now as we gradually relinquish the shackles, the accursed bureaucracy and the infamous red tape of the E.U., so now’s the time to buy in bulk and fill up your cellars.

Best Sparkling Wine: the impressively vivacious, ferociously crisp and refreshingly light Bissinger & Co Champagne (£19.99, Lidl). Fabulously fruity and impressively bubbly with persistent frothiness, this effervescent sparkler is packed with intoxicating citrus and green apple flavours which are expertly complemented by beguiling backnotes suggestive of almonds and lemony biscuits. A perfect aperitif to enjoy alongside either seafood or, better still, canapes such as bruschetta with goats cheese and tapenade before your Sunday roasts.

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Best Red Wine: the sumptuously smooth, ineffably soft and wildly precocious 2020 M&S Chateauneuf du Pape (£20). This classic southern Rhone red blends Greanche, Syrah and Mourvedre and has a wonderfully intriguing palate with hints of smoke,coffee and olives alongside bucketfuls of expressive and exuberantly juicy summer fruit. It drinks well now but will mature very well if you are the patient, disciplined sort who can happily leave it unopened, winking at you, for a year or five. One for roast venison or a very slowly cooked beef Bourgignon.

Best White Wine: the delightfully dry, delicate and exceptionally elegant 2019 Society’s Exhibition Sancerre (£17, the Wine Society, visit or telephone 01438-741177). Vibrantly herbaceous and grassy aromatics lead to a mineral-rich palate which is nicely balanced by the lively acidity of citrus and peach flavours. Sophisticated and, despite the eye-catching price tag, I’d say for wine of this quality it’s a very keenly priced bottle which will prove an ideal match for either poultry or seafood.

Best Wine Club: please don’t abandon your own local wine merchants. A fact of life, however, is that since Covid more and more of us are ordering wine in from mainly online retailers. Best of the bunch for my money is The Wine Society. Lifetime membership costs £40 and gains you access to a wide variety of both familiar and unusual wines at exceptionally competitive prices, sourced primarily from small growers and supporting sustainable growing practices and fair trade.

As we enter a new year, most likely with a sense of fear and trepidation on account of Covid, the sea border with Britain, our crumbling ecosystem, not to mention war, war, endless war and so many hopelessly corrupt and economically unjust political regimes (it’s not just Westminster, you know), it would be easy to turn to the bottle in despair. But fear not, for the last shall be first. That’s what the Good Book says and his very poor servant, Raymond Gleug, most cordially agrees. Till next week tipplers, sante!

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