Last week’s wine of the week was available only in the US and Hungary. Since Americans and Brits comprise the two biggest national groups of visitors to this site, in the spirit of fairness I offer a wine today that is available only in the UK.
Tanners is the family-owned dominant wine retailer on the Welsh border based in Shrewsbury and a little on the old-fashioned side. But there are many advantages to a certain period feel – not least perhaps their long-standing devotion to offering a decent selection of half-bottles. The company’s wares are very much determined by the enthusiasms of their individual buyers rather than by some massive committee or marketing initiative. Fine-wine buyer John Melhuish is mad about Douro wines, with excellent results for Tanners’ selection of them. Ditto Steve Crosland’s enthusiasm for German wines.
The company is run by fourth-generation James Tanner, who says about his buying trips to Germany with Crosland, ‘The German range has definitely become a lot drier in recent years. However, I always fight the corner for enough sugar to balance the acidity.’
Tanners are members of the small group of independent British wine merchants called The Bunch, which is supposed to fight for probity in wine trading but I suspect exists more to provide an excuse for them to get together every September for a dinner followed by a tasting for the press the next day. (I bet they enjoy the dinner much more than standing behind a table pouring samples for us ungrateful lot.)
At this year’s showing I was amazed to be told that Tanners' sales of wines from the Recaș winery in Romania had overtaken their sales of bordeaux. I wonder whether this has anything to do with their recent launch of a Tanners Super Claret, regular price £13.50 a bottle and a definite notch or three above their regular Tanners Claret at £8.40.
I was most impressed by the Super Claret 2010, made initially for négociant Maison Bouey from vineyards around St-Germain d’Esteuil by the team headed by well-known wine consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, who has recently published a book Wine on Tour – Derenoncourt, a man, a group (at least I think that is the correct order of the clump of words on the jacket and frontispiece). It’s part biography, part treatise, a song of praise to music and glamorously illustrated by some superior photographs. Via an intermediary, Iggy Pop was asked to write a foreword and the drawing shown above was the result.
Here’s what I wrote about this 13.5% wine:
‘67% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon from several parcels in Bouey's Les Parcelles range. Deep crimson. Arresting ripe fruit but no suggestion of sweetness. Cedary overtones. Very nicely balanced. You could already enjoy this rather sumptuous left-bank wine although there are very fine tannins in abundance. I would strongly suggest decanting it; the label does not do the liquid justice and a bit of aeration will do the wine no harm at all. This is just the job for classicists – by which I do not mean there is any austerity whatsoever. For food. Hunt lunch? It has 'the shires' written all over it. Pretty impressive finish for the money. GV’
I wrote this before discovering that Tanners have an introductory offer (just when Tesco say they are going to abandon special promotions and are taking a leaf out of Aldi and Lidl’s books in adopting fixed prices) of six bottles at £69, so just £11.50 a bottle.
James Tanner reports that stocks of this initial parcel are good but that when they are exhausted, they will ‘be spot buying parcels for it, whatever takes our fancy amongst second/third wines or petit châteaux'. Let’s hope they do as well when selecting the second batch of Super Claret – although I fear it may be much more difficult to find this sort of value from the three vintages that followed the great 2010.
See Gavin Quinney’s report yesterday for the latest news on the 2015 vintage in Bordeaux.