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The 2017 vintage of this longstanding member favourite has the deep purple colour and generous ripe fruit of grapes grown in a hot vintage with low yields, and yet it has kept its freshness and vitality well. A great result that will hit the spot on all manner of occasions.
Product Code: IT25191
View all products by Casa Vinicola Roxan
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the seldom overpriced but frequently variable wine made from the eponymous red grape variety on Italy’s Adriatic coast. At its best it is flavoursome, deeply coloured and delightfully fruity. Most of the wine here is produced at winemaking co-operatives. The Society’s version is made by the Roxan co-operative, known for their special relationships with 700 individual growers who, unusually in a co-operative set-up, are given a significant amount of input into the final wines. While up to 1,000 hectares of land is farmed, less than 10% of the grape yield in each vintage is actually bottled by the co-operative which keeps quality control reassuringly strict. These are smooth, stylish wines at the price. The winery itself is located in the town of Rosciano, near Pescara, and each bottling tends to be drawn from vineyard-specific sites. Buyer Sebastian Payne MW recalls that The Society first looked to buy wines from the Roxan co-operative after Edoardo Valentini, the brilliant but eccentric local winemaker and one of the most influential figures of his generation, sold his surplus grapes to it. Valentini was fiercely secretive, shunning wine critics and the wine establishment in general, yet this particular co-operative was the only one he trusted to turn his grapes into good wine. He died in 2012, but his son continues his estate, and upholds his father’s trust in the Roxan co-operative.
The large Central Italy region embraces Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise and Lazio. Geographically Central Italy is split by the imposing Apennine mountain range that runs the length of the centre of Italy like a slightly curved spine dividing, for example, Tuscany and Umbria from Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche. While there is the usual diversity of grape varieties when you drill down in to the vineyards of these regions, one grape variety dominates – sangiovese, whether it stands alone or is blended. At the heart of Tuscany is Chianti, spreading from north of Florence to south of Siena. Rolling green forested hills of captivating beauty characterise much of the Chianti area with vineyards sometimes planted at over 500 metres. The wines are dominated by the sangiovese grape supported by canaiolo, colorino, mammolo and ciliegiolo of the traditional varieties of the region but with the additional weight and structure of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot which are now permitted.Other great wines from Tuscany are Brunello di Montalcino (‘brunello’ being a very localised clone of sangiovese, and the only permitted grape), Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (from the town of Montepulciano and nothing to do with the montepulciano grape; Vino Nobile is again made from sangiovese) and the so-called Supertuscan blends of several grape varieties, some of which are not permitted under DOC rules in areas such as Brunello. The most famous of these Supertuscans are Sassicaia and Ornellaia, both of which are essentially Bordeaux -style blends from Bolgheri close to the Tuscan coast in the west. The region, partly with the impetus of these regulation bucking blends, has been a driving force in improving quality in the region and consequently across Italy. Umbria to the south of Tuscany has developed an impressive reputation for its wines, such as the aromatic, tannic but delicious sagrantino from vineyards around Montefalco. Here too sangiovese is widely grown, making impressive Torgiano and blends together with varieties like merlot and cabernet. Higher ground in the north is cooler than the southern zone. Orvieto lies almost between the two in the west of Umbria. The wines of Orvieto are beginning to find their feet once more after decades of underperformance now that many growers are focussing on the grechetto grape that had once been ubiquitous but which had been pushed aside by the higher cropping but far less interesting procanico (aka trebbiano Toscano). Lazio is the region around Rome which is struggling to creep out from the shadow of the dull wines that historically fed the thirst of a ready market in the Eternal City. Basically, there was too little incentive to change. Now there are a number of producers working hard to make Frascati of real character by improving their clones and their methods and by lowering yields.Across the Apennines from Umbria is Le Marche with its mountainous national parks and sunny Adriatic coast. The best white wines are the two verdicchios, dei Castelli di Jesi and di Matelica, with the latter making the more characterful examples from its higher altitudes. Pecorino grapes from zones to the south produce fruity, interesting white wines with real potential to rival the best verdicchio. Reds are improving all the time, including Rosso Piceno (sangiovese with montepulciano) and Rosso Conero (montepulciano). North of Le Marche is the region around foodie Bologna, Emilia-Romagna. Home to Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar, the region has not developed a similarly impressive canon of wines to rival its reputation for fine foods. Much is unimpressive but the best sangiovese di Romagna from south-east of Bologna can be excellent, and as with elsewhere in Italy there are a growing number of growers and winemakers intent on improvement. The wine best known to British consumers is Lambrusco. Sadly the association many will have is with sweetened characterless froth from the 1970s and 1980s but the Lambrusco drunk by the Bolognese is very different and we are starting to see its appetising acidity and bracing bite, designed to accompany the salty hams, tangy cheeses and rich meat sauces of its home region, reach the UK. As with Le Marche the vineyards of Abruzzo are squeezed between the great mass of the Apennines and the Adriatic, and the mountains have influenced the character of the Abruzzese and their food. To match their hearty dishes they drink montepulciano d’Abruzzo, invariably gutsy and full of lively red fruits and a Society wine of many years standing. Rosés such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo are also becoming increasingly well known for their value and constantly improving quality when growers lower yields and winemakers take them seriously. Further south is the little known Molise region where montepulciano, aglianico and trebbiano grapes make characterful, rustic reds and whites. The Biferno DOC was created in the 1980s and there are producers here who are making some very promising examples.
"I opened this a couple of hours before drinking as recommended and enjoyed it so much I ordered a second case. It was full, juicy and well rounded. An ideal house wine. And at the reduced price of £6.41 a bottle, stockpiling fresh supplies was irresistible."
I would recommend this wine
" A little disappointing with a harsh edge to it."
There are no press reviews for this product.
"My 'any day' red all the year round, particularly on it's own with some lights snacks. It's easy drinking with cherry and plumb undertones and ticks all the boxes for an utterly reliable quaffable red. Excellent value- -for-money and I agree with other members on the quality of the 2016 vintage. It's a pleasure to drink and would stand its ground against more expensive wines. A user-friendly screw top would be so much easier. It'll be on the next order."
Mr Nick Hutton (31-Dec-2018)
"Great with pizza or tomato-based pasta dishes, this fruity Italian doesn't set the world on fire, but offers pleasant flavours and great value for money. Cherries, blueberries and blackberries provide a fruit basket on the palate. Not too acidic with a decent aftertaste."
Mr Addam Merali-Hosiene (22-Dec-2018)
"New member exploring TWS wines. This is OK, on my reserve list but not the first Italian I’d put in the basket. That would be the TWS Barbera d’Asti."
Mr Graham Tree (09-Nov-2018)
Mr Heiko Langer (08-Oct-2018)
"Lovely, very easy-drinking montepulciano. Excellent value for money."
Miss Sally Brown (15-Sep-2018)
"Been drinking this since the 2004 vintage, can't think of having pasta with a bottle of this. I suppose it anywine is our 'house' wine this is it, and as we have pasta most weeks we get through cases of it. Now on the 2016 vintage and it just gets better. Throws a deposit after a while.
- Inexpensive, gluggable cherry fruit flavours with enough structure for food, but nice on its own. QPR earns it 5 stars.
About time they moved to a decent user friendly screwcap rather than a plastic plug"
Mr Peter May (30-Jun-2018)
"This started out an easy drinking mouthful but then changed to a typical Italian tart cherry bitterness. Day 2 it had changed again becoming more full bodied. I did not decant but would be interested to what effect it would have had."
Mr John G Bowen (28-Jun-2018)
"What a really good bottle of wine!
Black cherry and relatively light bodied. You're not going to sing hymns about this one; it's not got the complexity that has you sipping again to sift through the taste layers; rather, what it's got is simple, fruity and rather delicious with pasta on a Tuesday night. (Precisely the sort of wine that is great when unadulterated by oak as this is, but too often gets soaked in oak in a mistaken effort to look sophisticated.)
Rev Robert Stanier (18-Apr-2018)
"A lovely wine that rather grew on me. Very soft tannins allow an uncomplicated juiciness to shine, almost like fresh red grapes, but after a few seconds in the mouth the profile totally changes, to a rich, dark chocolate bitterness that lingers impressively on the finish. Perhaps I imagined it, but there seemed to be the faintest suggestion of spritz on the tongue. I drank it without food and it didn't feel overpowering. All in all, good stuff!"
Mr Maximilian Yuen (16-Apr-2018)
"Very impressed. Great value. Well balanced with lots of fruit"
Mr Tom Rodger (22-Oct-2017)
"Really like the 2016 vintage, best since the superb 2013 for me. Delicious full flavoured rustic wine that’s a real uncomplicated pleasure to drink and has hints of the polish and purity of something more expensive.
As it says on the back label it really benefits from opening a few hours in advance or popping through one of those wine airing gadgets."
Mr Jonathan Rippon (19-Oct-2017)
"I tried this wine a few years ago and wasn't impressed. Tried it again last week and still don't think it is that good.It's ok with food but I think there are better wines than this for less money."
Mr Gary K Leek (25-Sep-2017)
"Good value everyday red, which shows at its best with food. Well suited to a variety of pasta dishes and stands up well to strong flavours. Probably a 3 star wine but gets an extra star for the reasonable price."
Mr Bob White (23-Sep-2017)
"Fruity and rounded with a dry finish. Very enjoyable with lasagne and improved the next day. Not a showstopper but great for your mid-week pasta."
Mr Callum Montgomery (18-Jul-2017)
"I first tasted this as part of a mixed case and thought it one of the best Montepulciano's I had sampled, a steal at the price. I then ordered a full case and the first bottle opened was a little disappointing on it's own, needing the pasta dish that accompanied it for support. The second bottle some days later seemed to be better, having had a little time to rest after delivery and benefitting from a couple of hours in the decanter. Still a little harsh with sharp tannins for the first mouthful or two but then settling down. A flexible wine that still works best with food but also perfectly fine as a casual glass for slow sipping on its own, particularly if served slightly cooler than modern room temperatures. And at under £7 a bottle it is hard to argue against keeping a few of these on standby in the rack."
Mr Darren K L May (17-Jul-2017)
"There's a nice taste of plums in there, but and large it's too tanniny and too thick to be really enjoyable"
Mr Matthew Utting (04-Jun-2017)
"To start with a negative I can remember trying the 2015 for the first time after purchasing a U£7 Wine Champions case and not understanding what the fuss was about. Ordered half a dozen bottles again recently and have done a complete 180 on this wine. Very fresh and fruity and great midweek either its own or with a hearty pasta dish. Another great sub £7 wine which fits the midweek budget perfectly.
Mr Simon Mountjoy (21-May-2017)
"A worthy wine champion. Lots of soft fruit, easy drinking on its own or with pasta. Not demanding or complex, simple everyday wine - a bargain at the price. We've already had to re-order!"
Mr Graham Horsley (26-Apr-2017)
"I find the 2015 nice enough but not as good as the 2014 or a patch on the remarkable 2013. Looking forward to trying the 2016 and crossing my fingers it's not a downward slope."
Mr Jonathan Rippon (18-Feb-2017)
"For the price excellent value, think it is more 3.5 stars though. Would definaltely order again."
Mr Gordon Allan (28-Dec-2016)
"While there's not much on the nose, in the mouth there are lovely concentrated black fruit flavours and - for the price - decent length. A good effort for the price."
Mr Rory Bremner (08-Dec-2016)
"Best Italian red under £8, bar none !"
Mr Alex Jones (08-Nov-2016)
Mr Iain Harkess (17-Aug-2016)
Mr Robert Hudson (12-Aug-2016)
"Wine champion status not in keeping with my experience. Good aroma and fruit but spoilt for me by sharp acidic finish."
Mr Richard Ward (11-Aug-2016)
"Superb. This one's a regular order for me."
Mr Richard Smith (11-Aug-2016)
"Much riper, softer, more satisfying than I was expecting. Delighted."
Rev Jeremy Sierla (11-Aug-2016)
"Decent wine at a decent price, easy drinking medium bodied wine."
Mr William Baxter (29-Jul-2016)
"Fresh and fruity, this young red hits two spots for me, one it's enjoyable on its own or as an aperitif, two it's goes well with meaty dishes like shepherd's pie. I must say that it's excellent value, I will be ordering more. I'm told it is likely to improve with age, but I don't anticipate that it will stay around too long in my house."
Mr Tom Bulley (27-Jul-2016)
"2015 is a good vintage of this - happy to pick up a bottle from the "Champions" list for holiday drinking."
Mr Tristan Ward (23-Jul-2016)
Manchester Evening News (28th Jan 2017)
"This outstanding example
of its type is a steal at less than £7. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of the
wines I consistently turn to for meaty pasta dishes, but it will also pair
wonderfully well with bangers and mash and cottage pie. Made by co-operative
Casa Vinicola Roxan, this one in brilliant value with fragrant ripe fruit which
finishes with a dry note. It may not be a 'dinner party wine', but it's exactly
the type of reliable wine that's needed in my kitchen. - Andy Cronshaw"
"For the money, has to be 5 stars IMO"
Mr Martin Wingate (11-Aug-2016)
"Enjoyed this wine a lot - a young easy drinking Italian red. Would buy again."
Mr Bryn Jones (20-May-2016)
"Brilliant budget everyday wine. Nice and juicy without being too sweet. A bit of savouriness as well. Would buy again."
Mr Jason Mossman (15-Jan-2016)
"Excellent value and a well balanced wine. Put this one on the rack for next year as the 2013 is appreciably fuller after the extra time in bottle."
Mr Peter Wooldridge (05-Oct-2015)
"One of the best value for money wines I've had. Not just from The Society but anywhere. Not much to add to the other positive review. Really enjoyable to drink."
Mr Martin Wingate (12-Sep-2015)
"Once tried you will want to keep a few bottles for drinking at any time."
Mr Anthony R C Lane (17-Aug-2016)
"Tasted this against the 2014 and found it much more developed given the extra year in bottle. Buy this to drink now and buy the 2014 to go on the rack until next year. Terrific value for money and only 50p more expensive that the 2014."
"This one went straight in the cooking pot. Bright purple, very acidic, no length."
Mr David Bricknell (23-May-2015)
"Very good example of every day uncomplicated Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Excellent with pasta with lamb based sauces or bbq. Keep reordering."
Mr Andrea Capodicasa (05-Apr-2015)
"Bought a case of Tim Sykes -What to drink in 2015 and included was a bottle of The Society's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2012, yes 2012. Thought it a bit odd as the reviews for the 2013 are good and, being a subscriber to the Wine Gang, who rated the 2013 as pretty good was surprised to receive the 2012. Tried it with a little supper of delightful leg of lamb but sadly it was pretty dull, dusty, slightly medicinal and boring. Perhaps the Society needed to get shot of the last of the 2012 and added it to the Tim Sykes case as a makeweight. Whatever the reason it left a bad taste."
Mr Jeffrey Kelly (23-Mar-2015)
"Perfectly accompanied our pasta with meat sauce and tasted even better the following day. Infernally difficult to open the bottle though."
Kevin Finn Esq (06-Mar-2015)
"A cracking wine for the money! Decanted an hour and a half before serving. Will be buying more."
Mr Adrian French (03-Mar-2015)
"Very good value. Full of fruit flavour but also has depth and body and a lovely colour. Like so many reds it is better opened well before drinking and on the second day is at its best. I will certainly buy more of this and my other current favourite. St Eulalie from Minervois."
Mr Peter J H Devlin (21-Feb-2015)
"The 2013 reminds me of why I used to like this wine so much. Right back on form. A strong flavour filled wine that slips down a storm with gutsy food."
Mr Jonathan Rippon (30-Jan-2015)
"One of our house regulars, marred only by the fact that the corks are almost impossible to remove from the corkscrew once the opening deed is done! This has consistently been the case for some years now since the synthetic corks came in. Come on please Wine Society..surely you can persuade them to make the task easier?!"
Mr Bruce A Eggeling (25-Nov-2014)
"Excellent value for money - the right balance of fruit and tannin-backed body. However, a key point: OPEN WELL BEFORE DRINKING. There are similar comments in the other reviews - pull the cork and drink immediately and it is a bit rough. The second glass will be better. I am drinking the second half of the bottle on day 2 and it is now stunning! Worth a lot more than the £6.75 it is priced at."
Peter J Hunter Johnston (23-Oct-2014)
"This was a real flavour experience. We served it at room temperature having left it opened for a short while before pouring. Our group were all very impressed, both by the rich fruitiness of the wine and by the price. A real hit - I'll certainly be ordering more!
Mr James E Hellewell (13-May-2014)
"This Montepulciano is very jammy and unexciting. No complexity to it. If you are looking for a good value everyday drinking wine, The Society has much better options in its Rioja and Cotes du Rhone."
Mrs Linda Walton (28-Feb-2014)
"From the reviews, previous vintages have been better than the 2012 which I just drank. I will admit I was expecting more from the wine because of the Society's reputation as well as that of the co-operative that produces it. The weight was there, as was depth of tannin, but the fruit was lacking in the middle of the palate."
Mr John Lamond (07-Jan-2014)
"I bought a case (12bt) of the 2010 a couple of years ago and have drunk it with pleasure occasionally since. I opened a bottle a couple of days ago and found my first glass quite harsh. However, my second glass a day later was hugely better and today it is better still. In other words, this wine needs quite a bit of time to breathe. I have 3 bottles left, so will make sure I open them several hours (at least) before drinking and in any case within the next several months. Just about to order the 2012."
Mr William Cameron (09-Nov-2013)
"I agree with Peter May's comments below and on the advice of my parents have always set this aside, and cellared it properly. The last of my 2008(!) vintage I opened last night had suffered and was indeed now "fizzy", but then it is well beyond reasonable shelf life and had spent too long upright in less than ideal conditions, as this was the last vintage to use cork. That went down the sink, and so I then opened a bottle of 2009. This had thrown less sediment than I have been used to with this wine and is with the "new" artificial seal. Was good to very good once decanted and left to air for an hour. Has mellowed a little but still suitably powerful and a good match to the Osso Bucco I had it with. I can not comment on recent vintages including the recent Champion vintage, but would state this improves with proper cellaring if you can. If not, decant carefully well in advance would be my advice."
Dr Christopher Wood (09-Oct-2013)
"I am no expert in Italian wines, but this deeply-coloured and rich Montepulciano is a brilliant match for rich Italian food. In no way insubstantial, it has lovely sweet fruit which should make it approachable to those who normally don't care for red wine. This is a cut above the average supermarket effort but at a really good price for the quality."
Dr Robin W D Mitchell (17-Sep-2013)
"Nice fruity wine with black cherry and blackberries flavours. If you want to drink it on it's own it probably needs at least a couple of hours in a wide decanter, but with rich foods it's ready to drink from the bottle - probably still best to decant though. I had this one with a rich Bolognese which made a great match."
Mr Barry Smith (01-Jun-2013)
"Recent vintage does not have the savoury black cherry grip of those previous. Usually a staple house wine but not at present."
Mr Nigel Ludlow (24-Mar-2013)
"Very ordinary; worth leaving to breathe overnight. Not very good and I wouldn't purchase it again (luckily it was a sample bottle)."
Mr Kenneth Allinson (24-Feb-2013)
"A really good, dependable, wine which is good value. We have never had the problems reported by a couple of people recently and also do not think it is 'thin'. It is a wine we always try to have in the rack."
Mr Robert C Lane CBE (31-Jan-2013)
"Colour is a dense, purple-red; the nose has obvious cherry notes and exhibits a light fruit. The palate is dry with light tannins and medium length. Pleasant if unspectacular."
Mr Geoffrey Bolton (02-Jan-2013)
"Opened this bottle of wine on Christmas Day, it had a fizz!
The palate was harsh and totally unpalatable. It ended up down the sink! Not sure if it was a faulty bottle?
The worst bottle of wine I have experienced from the Wine Society."
Mr Malcolm J Davies (31-Dec-2012)
"Good value easy drinking red and at a good price."
Mr Philip Merrin (17-Aug-2012)
"Very average really. At the price you'd expect an ok quaff, but I think I'll search for another Monte on the next order."
Mr Richard Morton (26-Feb-2012)
"One of my first purchases from The Wine Society. Opened first bottle and very disappointed. The wine had a fizz on the palate and lacked depth. Not what I expected from the Society. Maybe a bad bottle, will comment again when I open the second."
Mr Michael Billington (26-Dec-2011)
"Our House red. An excellent easy drinking wine with a whiff of character. Consistently good and excellent value for money. Nothing else needs saying really!"
Mr Andrew N Tomkins (11-Aug-2011)
"Easy drinking, fruity Italian red - exactly what I would expect for this varietal at this price point. Not spectacular but a good quaffer, especially with Italian food (went very well with pasta with a meatball and tomato sauce). Tannins are quite strong making it taste rather dry so it is better drunk with food."
Mr James Maylam (03-Jun-2011)
"Good colour, we bought this as part of a case of Society Reds. We had this with Italian chicken ciccatora & risotto which was a good accompaniment. We thought it had good body for wine that was medium bodied. Enjoyable with a longer spicier finish than we intially imagined. We were pleased and surprised. Easy to drink, and an every day wine. If that's what you're looking for, you won't be disappointed."
Dr Aref Dyer (15-May-2011)
"Cherry-based fun for all the family from this quaffable little chappie. Medium bodied, fruity, nice acidity and some pleasant tannins on the back end. This is all you could ask for in an inexpensive Italian red. Bravo The Wine Society!"
Mr William Davies (11-Apr-2011)
"We have bought a case on the strength of everybody's comments, plus of course the WS description. We're not yet persuaded. First bottle had slightly peculiar sealing - cork present but mysterious hole as if corkscrew already inserted, although foil was intact! Perhaps we opened the wine too soon after delivery and didn't let it stand long enough (though we did decant it, contrary to our usual practice). There was some nose; the wine itself, however, was 'hot' (is that a description that anyone recognises?). Second bottle - allowed to stand for two hours plus - was better. Third, similarly treated, not as good as the second. We think the wine is 'underpowered' and better value - by some margin - is to be had among some of the similarly priced Chilean, French ('country'), and Spanish offerings. But we will selflessly persevere."
Mr John L Moles (28-Sep-2010)
"Beautifully made fruit driven wine still retaining its old world style. Able to accompany bold spicy meaty meals and yet the moderate tannin levels make the wine very drinkable. Shows what can be achieved by allowing the right amount of skin contact and knowlegeable winemakers.
Leaving the wine to settle for a year might smooth off the rustic edges making it even better value for money."
Mr Chris Barclay (15-Aug-2010)
"To my surprise this is our most drunk wine -- it is so reliable, so fruitily quaffable and it is our now standard wine for pasta dishes. I used to get mixed cases of red Italians but we always preferred this and for past years just order it by the case.
No need to look further, lovely stuff at a good price.
Noticed drinking through a case how it pleasantly ages -- losing edges and gaining smoothness and complexity while throwing down sediment -- not expected in a wine in this price bracket so now I'm saving the last couple of bottles from the previous vintage to see just how long it improves.
Well done TWS for your partnership with Roxan and for ensuring they keep the quality up from year to year."
Mr Peter May (29-Jun-2010)
"I treat this as our house wine, it surprises me every time just how good it is. Fantastic value."
Mr Peter Martin (06-May-2010)
"I am surprised that this wine did not appear in Mr Spurrier's top 30; it must be one of the best value Italian reds on the market and no Montepulciano I have tasted has approached it. I have been drinking it for over five years now and the quality has improved from a very sound base. Strongly recommended."
Bernard T Hawcroft Esq (07-Mar-2010)
"My first impression on opening this wine bottle was one of extreme disappointment.I cut the foil and discovered that the bottle was corkless*. Fortunately, I had ordered another bottle of this which did have a cork. Hurrah! In summary, a very enjoyable drink. I am new to this grape and was very impressed. A very easy drinking wine. Bags of fruit - cherries and blackberries - and very smooth. As recommended on the label, I left the bottle for a few hours to let the flavours unpack. For a co-operative wine this really is excellent.
(* I called the Wine Society and told them about my corkless problem. This had also been reported by another member. My account was credited with the amount I paid for wine, rather than despatching a replacement which is what I would have expected.)"
Mr James Fallon (03-Nov-2009)
"A really fruity, quaffable wine of consistent quality at a very reasonable price."
Mr Jack Hasdell (07-Sep-2009)
Daily Mail (22nd Aug 2015)
stuffed with red berry fruit and also smooth and easy to glug, this is a
wickedly enticing central Italian red with serious levels of flair and energy.
Drinking perfectly right now, this is a cracking all-purpose red for
entertaining. - Matthew Jukes"
The Wine Gang (Mar 2013)
"As deep coloured as Montepulciano should be and with ripe blackberry fruit, smoky, liquoricey flavours, velvety tannins and attractive freshness. A good mouthful of flavour and authenticity for a small outlay. Made by the Roxan co-operative. Goes with: Barbecues, Charcuterie and cold meats, Pasta & Risotto."
House & Garden (2nd Feb 2013)
"Full, spicy red from … Italy to cut the richness of the meat and stand up to the clove-infused onion. - Joanna Simon"
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.