The Finer things in life….

…may not always be free, but in the case of wine, trading up once in a while can be a revelation. Fine wines are really living antiques, pieces of the past, a step away from the quotidian, an indulgence in something extraordinary. The only problem is the cost, which limits most of us from trying quite as many as we might like!

Henry Little, Trainee at Majestic Roehampton reports on a recent staff Fine Wine evening

But getting together with friends and other wine drinkers, buying a bottle each and sharing them around, is a great way to discover and learn about the more serious wines out there. So although it may be true that working in the wine trade gives a person tastes they can ill afford, clubbing together certainly works wonders for Majestic staff, who often get together after hours to try the more exclusive items in the company’s range, as at the regional fine wine evening last month.

 Louis Roederer Quartet NV,The event, hosted by the Richmond store, saw presentations from staff on whites, reds and a dessert wine. Bubbles came first though of course, Louis Roederer Quartet NV, a Californian sparkling, proving itself a very credible alternative to Champagne with a creamy, Bollinger Grande Annee 2000dry delicacy, followed by the impressive Bollinger Grande Annee 2000, a wonderfully developed Champagne in the richly “biscuity” House style.

Chapoutier CondrieuWhites ranged from refined chardonnays such as the Domaine Jomain Puligny-Montrachet 2007, showing well and with a bright future, to the heady aromatics of Chapoutier Condrieu and Planeta Cometa (a Sicilian made from fiano grapes), both wines with well-deserved popular followings.

Some serious reds were wheeled out in response, however, the New World well represented with the irresistible black fruit explosion of Cyril Henschke’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Saintsbury’s Brown Ranch Pinot Noir 2005 and Stag’s Leap merlot 2006.Lynch Bages 1998 But despite the impressive precedents, the mighty Lynch Bages 1998 took centre stage in the end, fully living up to expectations with its cocktail of Bordeaux cassis and savoury intrigue. An absolute privilege to try, its ripe tannins suggested a perfect food wine to enjoy now, though with plenty of ageing potential, too.

Clos d’Y Vigne, SaussignacThe finish came with the of novelist Patricia Atkinson’s Clos d’Y Vigne, Saussignac from Southern France – yet another cult wine – a Sauternes-style nectar of enormous weight and richness. Needless to say, the end of the evening came all too soon, and it was back to looking wistfully at the labels. But then part of the process of enjoying these wines is based on the ritual, and the fact that they are rare treats, not for everyday drinking – or so I console myself.

Whatever your level of interest in wine, the world of fine wine is a wonderful one to explore.  Stag's Leap Karia ChardonnayWe’re launching the Fine Wine Fridays initiative to support our ongoing commitment to making Fine Wine accessible: on the first Friday of the month in every designated Fine Wine store, customers will have the chance to try such wines at the tasting counter, for free. Use our store locator to find your nearest store and see if they’re a Fine Wine Store. We’re kicking off June with the Stag’s Leap Karia Chardonnay 2007 to try in Fine Wine stores – this Friday 4th June.

If you do feel like getting together with friends for an evening, help with tastings (from advice on the wines, to extras like free glass hire) is always available, even if the staff might get a little bit jealous!

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