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12 Really Useful Wines – Part 2

What makes a wine really useful? Last time we took a look at the first six of our twelve really useful wines, covering classics like Claret, Chablis and seriously stylish Sauvignon.

Any excuse for alliteration.

In our second part, we’ve got six more wines that are truly useful to have in your wine rack, from absurdly good value all-rounder reds to the perfect special-occasion treat.

#7 The Little Black Dress Red

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How about a soft, silky little number you can slip open for all occasions? The kind of red wine that always tastes great, is absurdly good value for money, yet boasts remarkable quality, is great with food – or without.

This one is a bit of a hidden secret. It’s a staff favourite, and for good reason. Domaines Les Yeuses ‘Les Epices’ Syrah is soft, smooth and well named. ‘Les Epices’ means ‘the spices’, and you get all that French Country spice and black pepper syrah flavour in this very fine glass. It’s also a brilliant wine to tuck away, because it ages brilliantly. Make it your house wine, it’s a great bargain.

#8 Go-To-White

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The counterpart to the Little Black Dress Red, a white wine that ticks all the boxes: fruity, fresh, good with or without food. It always helps when a wine has a little story behind it, too.

Introducing Domaine Sainte Rose ‘Le Marin Blanc’. Supremely balanced, delicious, and brilliantly made by British couple Ruth and Charles Simpson in Southern France. It’s a blend of two Rhônish varieties, Marsanne and Roussanne, and should be in your fridge ready to go at all times.  Le Marin is a southerly wind from the Mediterranean, and when it comes in its more favourable form without rain it is known as Le Marin Blanc.

Made by Brits in France and really tasty. Win.

#9 The Next Big Thing

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Every now and again, the wine world wakes up and discovers a little-known grape and gets excited about it. Next thing you know, sommeliers in-the-know are listing it and sharing the secret with their best customers, and before you know it, a new sensation is born.

Over the past few years, that’s been the story for Picpoul De Pinet, a heroically fresh white wine from the southern French Mediterranean. Domaine Félines Jourdan is the love of Claude Jourdan, whose mother set up the winery in 1983.  Ultra-fresh, lemon zesty, with notes of green pepper and fennel, it’s a fantastic wine for seafood and light dishes.

#10 Boutique Brilliance

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Wine can be an egalitarian place. Meritocratic, even. If you make a really beautiful wine, then people will notice and (hopefully) enjoy it. There are plenty of examples all over the world, but few places like Australia show the sharp difference between wine David and Goliath.

Except this David is a pretty big hitter, for a little guy. Tiny family-run winery Kangarilla Road in McLaren Vale is owned by Kevin O’Brien, where he makes really special wines with his wife Helen and surfer-son Charlie. Their McLaren Vale Shiraz is marvellously full-flavoured, inky and smooth, with a fabulous freshness – perhaps that’s because you can see the sea from their vineyards!

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#11 A Rosé By Any Other Name

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Breaking news: Rosé isn’t just for summer any more. It’s great all year around! The popularity of Provence, in particular, saw record sales through the winter months of 2015 at Majestic, and we think that’s down to the delightful, subtle fruit and clean, refreshing texture.

Prince of Provence Rosés, M de Minuty is a leader in quality, with a stylish bottle and joyfully charming to drink. For years it has been on the wine lists of the grand hotels of the Côte d’Azur, now it is winning fans all over the world. Particularly, we’ve found, amongst Majestic customers.

#12 The Blowout Treat

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One should always keep a bottle of Champagne chilled, whether for special occasions, celebrations, or days ending in ‘y’. Yes. Champagne is not just for special occasions and celebrations, although it is a magnificent treat, it’s also simply a nice thing to drink. Vintage Champagne especially so.

Absolutely first class Champagne can be found without breaking the bank, too. Vintage Champagne gets aged for longer than its non-vintage counterpart and often represents excellent value for money. Veuve Clicquot is near-on legendary, producing their Vintage only in great years. 2004 was spectacular, with a dry September and October bringing the grapes to perfect ripeness. It’s rich, elegant, toasty and fine with wonderful balance. Perfect for any time you think you deserve it. Like now.

You can find our 12 really useful wines and their alternatives online here, or come and visit us in store. Your local wine gurus will be happy to show you the wines they think are really useful to have in your cellar.

Previous: 12 Really Useful Wines – Part 1