One of the more frustrating things about writing this wine column – for you as well as for me – is that, for one reason or another, some wines I recommend don’t always turn out to be available: not every wine is stocked in every branch, for example. But there’s a new problem and, on the face of it, an unlikely one in these hard times: wines are selling out quicker than ever.
At a recent Wine Society tasting, one of the wines they’d lined up to show us had already sold out. The Society has had a record year, with sales in April, when they traded for only half the month, higher than in the same period in 2019. August was the equivalent to the average December. It’s not comparable to the loo roll panic, obviously – there is still plenty of wine out there – but it could mean there’s no more stock of a wine you’ve particularly enjoyed. It really is a case of WIGIG (when it’s gone it’s gone).
It’s obviously more likely to happen with a small parcel of wine, or a release from an in-demand winemaker whose wines are on allocation, than with supermarkets’ own-label ranges, but I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it. There should, for example, be plenty of the Wine Society’s gorgeously creamy Exhibition Chenin Blanc 2019 (13%), made for it by one of South Africa’s most highly regarded winemakers, Chris Alheit, but if my fellow wine writers are as impressed by it as I am, it may well sell out fast. I also doubt that, even at £31, the Society’s sensuously supple, silky Domaine Clos Salomon Givry Premier Cru Clos Salomon 2017 (13%), from a harvest that was halved by frost, will hang around for long. If you’re a red burgundy fan and are looking for a special bottle for Christmas, snap that one up.
You also need to be aware that what appears to be the wine you liked may not be the same vintage – though this is less of a problem with big brands, which are blended and even imported in bulk – and that some years are better than others: 2018 was a pretty good year all round, as the lovely chianti below demonstrates, whereas 2019 may not be quite so pleasing.
So, yes, it is worth squirrelling away a few bottles, but it’s also worth staying open-minded and willing to experiment. If the wine you like isn’t available, try a similar style – greco if you’re an albariño fan, for example. Who knows – you might even enjoy it more.
Four bottles to snap up while you can
Baron Amarillo Rioja 2018
£4.49 Aldi, 12.5%. A cheeky take-off of the well-known Campo Viejo brand, but what good value! Great everyday drinking. Definitely load up if you’re a rioja fan.
Paco & Lola Albariño 2019
£12 larger Tesco stores, 13%. Stylish, modern bottling of fashionable albariño from Spain’s Rias Baixas. Perfect for anything fishy. The accompanying red garnacha/tempranillo blend is excellent, too.
Greco Basilicata 2019 Le Ralle, Alovini
Chianti Colli Senesi Campriano 2018
£13.25 Haynes, Hanson & Clark, or £11.65 a bottle by the case (also available in magnum), 13.5%. There’s so much low-rent chianti around, it’s easy to forget how delicious – and brilliant with food – it can be. A youthful, unoaked style, but none the worse for that. Real elegance for the price.
• For more by Fiona Beckett, go to matchingfoodandwine.com