Driving force

The main thing I remember about last year’s summer sale at Les Caves de Pyrene, the Guildford-based wine importer (other than the quality of wine I ended up with, which was extremely impressive) is the disastrous traffic Gilad and I encountered on our way home. The main thing I’ll remember about this year’s – the quality of wine being as yet unproven – is the disastrous traffic I encountered on the way there. It was hideous. The North Circular was a car park, the final mile on the approach to the Chiswick Roundabout taking me about an hour. When the cars already on the M25 appeared similarly stationary I asked my satnav to find another route; its selection was astonishingly circuitous, and included not one but two roads that were closed for roadworks.

When I finally did arrive, I was surprised that the small shop wasn’t a bit more crowded – particularly since the sale had been compressed from two days to one. “You should have been here when we opened,” one member of staff said when I made that observation out loud. The early birds clearly caught the vinous worm – there seemed slightly less choice there today, compared to last year, and none of the big successes of a year ago were in evidence. But I wasn’t going all that way for nothing, and quickly compiled three cases all the same.

Most of the people who were there when I arrived at about midday were clustered around the tasting table, so I scurried around the rest of the room selecting bottles more or less at random. I did try a few, when a place at the top table appeared, but given last year’s experience I was happy enough to trust their selective abilities. For the record, as I’ll certainly want this list to refer to in the future and will almost certainly lose my one hard copy within 24 hours, this is what I ended up with. You will notice one bottle that stands out, mainly for being three times more expensive than anything else – a 1989 Mas de Daumas Gassac, a famous wine from the Languedoc that requires a great deal of ageing. This should be ready, and though at £45 it is comfortably the most expensive bottle of wine I have ever bought it is a) only £15 more than the latest vintage; and b) exactly half the lowest price I can find for it on wine-searcher.com. The label was almost totally ruined, (partly) explaining the price. Anyway, here’s that list, all prices per bottle:

Les Cretes torrette 2003 (their fumin was the biggest hit of last year’s haul) x 2 (£5)

Di Barro fumin 2004 x 2 (£10)

Salentein Primus pinot noir 2004 x2 (£10)

Zouina Epicuria Syrah 2005 x4 (£11)

Palari Rosso del Sporano 2005 x2 (£12)

Vaubois pinot noir 2005 x2 (£4)

Afros Espumante Vinhao Vinho Verde tinto 2006 x2 (£8.50)

Mirausse Le Grand Penchant Azerolle 2006 x1 (£6)

Tollo Madregale Rosso 2007 x1 (£3)

Dom Foulards VDT Soif du Mal Rouge 2007 x2 (£8)

Dom Foulards VDT Soif du Mal Rouge 2008 x2 (£8.50)

Dom Foulards VDT Vilains rouge 2007 x2 (£8)

Hatzidakis Santorini Cuvee 17 2007 x4 (£6; slightly damaged labels)

Terras Gauda O Rosal 2008 x1 (£10)

Daumas Gassac rouge 1989 x1 (£45.50; horrifically damaged labels)

Fazio Brusio Blanco Sicilia IGT 2007 x2 (£4.50)

Fondreche Rouge Cuvee Fayard 2007 x2 (£6)

Schuster Twin Vineyards pinot noir 2008 x2 (£8)


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