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One of the best bottlings to date of this members’ favorite from Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro, Limarí’s cool climate and soils high in limestone produce a taut, firm style of chardonnay. This one is 100% barrel fermented in mostly second and third-use barrels to open up the aromas without masking minerality, making this lovely as it is and even better decanted.
Product Code: CE10461
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Concha y Toro is the Penfolds of Chile, simultaneously producing some of Chile’s greatest wines in limited quantities (Don Melchor, Carmín de Peumo, Amelia, Maycas del Limarí Quebrada Seca Chardonnay, etc.) as well as large volumes of high-quality brands such as Casillero del Diablo. Based at Pirque in the Santiago region, it is Chile’s largest vineyard owner, with over 6000 hectares of vineyards spread throughout the country’s many wine-producing regions. The company also buys in grapes of a similar quantity to that produced in its own vineyards. The diversity of soil types, climates, aspect and altitude has enabled the company to develop an impressive repertoire of grape varieties, each of which is sourced from vineyards best suited to its needs.Concha y Toro has expanded almost beyond recognition from its humble beginnings in 1883, when liberal politician Don Melchor de Concha y Toro and his wife Doña Emiliana cultivated their first vineyards from Bordeaux vine cuttings. After Don Melchor died, his son took over, and the 1930s saw the company’s first exports – to the Dutch port of Rotterdam. In the 1950s, the Guilisasti family came on board, eventually taking over the majority share of the company in 1961. Under its direction, Concha y Toro gradually established its name through value-for-money, well-made varietal wines. From the end of the 1980s onwards, Concha y Toro led the way in boosting Chile’s export profile. A large part of their success was down to the development of a number of big wine brands, including the joint-venture Almaviva winery in collaboration with Mouton-Rothschild, launched in 1997. More recently, the company purchased vineyards in California in 2011, proving that it certainly hasn’t lost its thirst for new and exciting projects.Concha y Toro has continued to develop and modernise over the past few decades and, with vineyard holdings from Limarí in the north to Bío Bío in the south, it is well placed to do so. Winemakers Marcelo Papa (responsible for Casillero del Diablo, Marqués de Casa Concha and Maycas del Limarí) and Ignacio Recabarren (responsible for Trio, Terrunyo, Amelia and Carmín de Peumo) have spearheaded an impressive rise in quality. Their winemaking skills and the great vineyard resources of Concha combine to make some of Chile’s best wines.
The Spanish conquerors introduced vinifera vines to Chile, and with them the establishment of vineyards for winemaking, in the middle of the 16th century, and the area around the capital Santiago has a history of winemaking stretching back nearly four and a half centuries. By the middle of the 19th century the Chilean wine industry was well established, but was making fairly rustic fare and it was a well-travelled local called Silvestre Ochagavia Echazzarreta who, in 1851, brought a French winemaker and a cargo of vine cuttings back from his travels to France and set a new era in motion.Robust domestic consumption kept demand, and tax revenue, high in the 20th century until domestic drinkers turned away in the 1970s and 1980s and many vineyards were pulled during the unsettling political upheavals of the former decade. The return of democracy stimulated investment and growth and a forward thinking, export oriented industry pointed to a brighter future.Quality begins, absolutely in the vineyard. In the last ten years Chile has begun to plant vineyards not just by matching variety and climate, which it has done very well up to now, but by mapping and analysing soils before planting. This new generation of soil-mapped vineyards planted in the last decade, with higher density, rootstocks and drip irrigation, or no irrigation, is now just starting to bear fruit and will revolutionise the quality of Chilean wines.Chile became first known for its cheap cabernets and merlots made from high yields in the fertile, warm, flat, flood-irrigated Central Valley. However, Chile is no longer a cheap country to buy from. Its economy is based on copper. It is the world's largest producer. Booming demand from China has seen its currency, the peso, strengthen, much like the Australian dollar which has been buoyed by its mineral resources. Labour for the wine industry is becoming more expensive and scarcer as it has to compete with the highly profitable mining industry which can afford to pay more. Energy costs have risen rapidly. It is estimated that half the vineyard area of Chile, about 62,500ha, is less than 15 years old. It probably takes 8-20 years to pay back a vineyard, and about 30 for a bodega. In Spain one can buy lovely 60-year-old-vine garnacha from co-operatives in Calatayud or Navarra at very cheap prices. The capital costs of the vineyard and winery have long been absorbed and the old vines offer lovely quality too.There are massive viticultural possibilities. This remarkable 3,000-mile-long country includes all the world's climates apart from sub-tropical and tropical. Grape varieties need different climates to prosper and Chile can accommodate them all.Many of Chile's cheap wines came from the flat, fertile and warm Central Valley, ideal for ripening large crops of very good entry-level wines. Before the advent of drip irrigation only these flat vineyards were suitable for flood irrigation. However, these flat lands were also situated in a warm climate and had fertile soils. The availability of drip irrigation allowed the planting of the cooler and less fertile south facing slopes, and availability of rootstocks allowed a greater diversity of soils to be planted.From Elqui in the north to Rapel in the middle of the country the rainfall increases from 90mm to 550mm. This lack of rainfall means Chile is free from most fungal diseases and has some of the healthiest grapes in the world. Water reserves from snow in the Andes, and the advent of drip irrigation (a vine needs about 700mm a year to survive) has allowed cool south-facing slopes, with less fertile soils, to be cultivated and yields controlled. From Maule down to Bío-Bío rainfall increases from 550 to 1,500mm and there are many unirrigated vineyards here.As well as the north to south dynamic, there is also a huge temperature variation east to west. Dr Richard Smart, a viticulture guru, says that to combat global warming viticulturists should head to the mountains or to the coast. Chile has both. More vineyards are being planted in the Andes mountains up to 2,000m, where average temperature decreases by 0.6°C with every 100 metres of altitude. The coast, cooled by the 14°C Pacific Ocean, has spawned a remarkable recent growth in vineyards. First came Casablanca (1982), then Leyda (1998), swiftly followed by Limarí (2005), Elqui, Aconcagua and Rapel. In between, the Central Valley and its offshoots like Apalta and Peumo are much warmer and are typically ideal for carmenère, and the southern Rhône varieties which are starting to appear, or for ripening large crops of cabernet and merlot to make cheaper wines.If Chile has successfully understood the matching of climate with grape variety, what it did not do, until recently, other than by accident, was to match the climate and variety with the right soil. There has been a step change in the quality of vineyards planted in the last 10 years or so. Knowledge about the soil following scientific analysis, appropriate planting density, choice of rootstocks, excellent clonal and massale selections of grape varieties, ability to plant cooler and less fertile south-facing slopes with the advent of drip irrigation (flood irrigation can only cope with virtually flat land) have all conspired to revolutionise the quality of vineyards planted in the past decade or so.For a more detailed examination of Chile and its regions please go to our How To Buy Chile section of our web site.
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"This is great VFM. For broad flavours there are the grilled pineapple and subtle vanilla notes whilst the structure is provided by the citrussy tension. I tasted at the Chile walk around and was impressed. It'll take big flavoured chicken, turkey and pork dishes and sauces. Chill, but not too much."
Mr Geoffrey Bolton (03-Dec-2018)
"Lovely, rich, and minerally. Couldn't drink it all day (!) but great with food"
Mr Stuart Tait (22-Sep-2018)
"Two grapes dominate Burgundy. For reds, there is pinot noir, which is notoriously picky about where it chooses to grow well; for whites, there is chardonnay. By contrast with pinot noir, this will grow everywhere.
There are so many regions that now aim high with their chardonnays, the consumer is spoiled for choice. In the New World, the first contenders were Australia and California. Each aimed for oak-rich, fulsome chardonnays in the style of Meursault; each also went over the top and ultimately alienated a lot of drinkers. Since then, South Africa, New Zealand and Chile have all come to the party.
This Exhibition Chardonnay is from Limari, the northern most and probably trendiest wine growing region in Chile.
Note One: this is much better with food. It's too substantial to be drunk on its own, really.
Note Two: this is aiming at a kind of golden mean of chardonnay. Rich enough to be round in the mouth; but with neither the tropical fruit flavours of California nor the density of New Zealand.
This particular example is round, tangy in after taste but not too much.
It's very good without being excellent.
Being Chile, it's also noticeably cheaper than its equivalents from elsewhere, be that Burgundy or Australia or New Zealand.
Drinking it alongside the 'Exhibition New Zealand Chardonnay' is fascinating. Ultimately, the New Zealand chardonnay (2016 vintage) is the greater wine: it's got more complexity in the mouth. But it's only greater in the sense that 'Okay Computer' is greater than 'The Bends'; or 'Rubbersoul' is greater than 'Help', or Jimmy Anderson is greater than Stuart Broad.
The Chilean wine is still a really good wine; in fact, I suspect it's slightly more appealing to many palates. And at £5 less than the New Zealand version, it's great value for a middle ground Chardonnay. If I were picking a Burgundy village for comparison, I'd suggest St Aubin. A sort of mid-way chardonnay, far from mineral dry like Chablis, but not vanilla custard from California (though I love those once in a while)."
Rev Robert Stanier (21-Sep-2018)
"Really good food white. Some oak and complexity but nice cutting minerality. Super."
Mr James Eatwell (06-Sep-2018)
"Great value. More than a touch of oak but still well balanced. Fantastic Chardonnay character. A regular purchase, this one seems to be a very good year."
Mr Arthur Butler (18-Jul-2018)
"Top marks for this lovely oaked Chardonnay. Nicely balanced and a quality wine for the price. I’d certainly order again "
Mr Nicolas Pittman (08-Jul-2018)
"Strong citrus start. Much fruit. Zingy even. I failed to read the instruction to decant and drank it straight from the bottle. It wasn't until my second glass that the possibility of slightly oaky elements began to seem plausible. A glass and a half in and it was starting to remind me of my grandmother's puddings - all fresh sharp fruits chopped into a bowl with just a dribble of cream to take the edge off. I imagine this would be good with deep fried seafood and aioli. "
Mr Tom Lavercombe (07-Jul-2018)
The Observer (17th Mar 2019)
"The Wine Society’s
non-profit mutual model translates into brilliant value and range, not least in
its own-label wines, such as this wonderful new-wave cooler-climate Chilean
with its star-bright acidity and freshness contrasting with luscious orchard
fruit. - David Williams"
Daily Mail (17th Jan 2019)
"I want my wines with
a bit more oomph to them at this time of year, and this cool-climate Chilean
Chardonnay fits the bill. From the Limarí Valley, it’s a tropical fruit
salad of a wine. A hug in a glass. Food pairing: roast chicken. - Helen McGinn"
"Tonight we had the Exhibition Chile Chardonnay as we missed the tasting. I’ve got to say it’s rather nice. It has beautifully balanced citrus notes with vanilla, it is long and complex, hints of spice and aniseed.
It could become a summer garden favourite.
Look out all my Chardonnay hating friends!
note posted from the Society's forum tasting event. Many more notes over there, the link is at the top of this page.
Mr Russell Sainty (08-May-2018)
"Its delicious, smooth and easy to drink. Furthermore, its half the price of a comparable wine from the Old World."
Mr Graham Redman (25-Apr-2018)
"Real value for money. Was not expecting a wine of this quality at the price due to having had too many overpowering chardonnays from South America. Was a bit nervous about the lightly oaked comment but it is thankfully subtle (to my taste buds in any case). This is a slightly softer and more subtle wine than I was expecting, including from the WS notes, whilst not losing its freshness and minerality. Agree with the other review that there is also a reasonably long finish. So overall this is a nice Chardonnay that is well priced. Will decant next time and see what changes that brings."
Mrs Sarah-Lynn Spruzen (22-Dec-2017)
"Superb. The most enjoyable Chardonnay I have tasted for a long time. Real depth and length of flavour."
Mr Simon Cleasby (11-Oct-2017)
Manchester Evening News (28th Apr 2018)
"Made for The Society
by Concha Y Toro, this Chardonnay accomplishes an impressive rope trick by
balancing a nutty, buttery feel against its citrus fruit and minerality. - Andy Cronshaw"
Good effort from concha y toro. Big wine, ripe fruit with zingy freshness. Nice pale gold colour with a green hue. Great match for hearty dishes."
Mr Rafael Goncalves (16-Jun-2017)
"An identifiable New World Chardonnay, but that's not necessarily a bad thing! If you like lots of flavour in the glass, (I personally thought there was more than just a "hint" of oak, but not over the top), you will enjoy this wine. Not one I will order on a frequent basis, but from time to time it will make a very pleasant change, especially at -just- under £10."
Mr Roger Wilson (01-Apr-2017)
"I bought a bottle of this to try as a 'wine champion'. It matched a sea bream recipe perfectly. Citrusy, refreshing, just a hint of oak. We enjoyed it so much we opened a bottle of our favourite Joseph Burrier Vire-Clesse to compare. It doesn't quite match it for complexity and finish, but it's amazing value at two thirds of the price. We'll definitely be ordering more of this."
Mr Graham Horsley (17-Sep-2016)
The Daily Telegraph (15th Oct 2016)
- Hamish Anderson
"Distinct Chardonnay, nutty and young. hot on the alcohol long citrus finish."
Mr Jonathan Bohane (08-Sep-2016)
"I suspect that this wine is just not particularly to my taste, rather than being a poor specimen, given the other positive reviews here, but for me this wasn't anything special. I regularly drink Burgundian style Chardonnays from SA, Australia and France, and bought this in the hope of something similar. On re-reading the tasting notes I may have misinterpreted them . The taste is far less complex than I was hoping and rather more mineral / Chablis-esque than anything from the Cote de Beaune."
Mr Pete Drewienkiewicz (25-Jul-2016)
"Everything you'd expect from a Chardonnay, but with a wickedly zesty follow through."
Mr Bruce Marson (29-Apr-2016)
"I reappraised this wine after my partially favourable review thee years ago (which earned a telephone call from the buyer!). I tasted it again against several other Chardonnays at a recent all American tasting in Edinburgh. I have also tasted a lot more Chardonnay in the last three years. It is a very good, very well made, interesting wine, performing way above its price point. Read and understand the description carefully so as to know what to expect. Do not overchill, I put it in the fridge for three hours and took it out an hour before. I opened it an hour before drinking. It needs to breathe. It is simply delicious. Well done, Wine Soviety, you made me persevere!"
Mr Charles Stokes (06-Mar-2016)
"Good wine but it didn't have that to die for yeasty/farmyard complexity that I remembered from the 2012 vintage. Yes, at it's best only lightly chilled."
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (29-May-2015)
"Notes of smokey bacon on the nose. Takes a while to open up and found the serving temperature made a big difference, straight from the fridge was too cold for it to open up ,at room temperature it became a little oily and flaccid. But served slightly chilled it became a nicely balanced and stylish Chardonnay. Lip smackingly good after food. 9.1/10"
Mr Andrew Swann (06-Mar-2015)
"Not the greatest chardonnay, but it is very drinkable and good value at the price. The style is that of 20 years ago - not a criticism, just a description. And a reminder of how standards and fashions change."
Mr John Purse (01-Feb-2015)
"The long refreshing finish came across as rather citrus, unusually so for a chardonnay. The first impression was of marked viscosity, to the point of oiliness, which in my view did not sit well with the mineral front. We all have chardonnay we like and chardonnay we don't. This was firmly in the latter character for me. I did not care for it at all."
Dr Richard Buscall (09-Jan-2015)
"Had a smirk on my face after opening this one. High quality, well balanced, deep and complex without any inaccessibility. The last bottle of Chardonnay I had was the WITHER HILLS MARLBOROUGH CHARDONNAY 2012. Even though I couldn't say a bad word about it, it didn't quite hit the spot, it was clinically clean in comparison. Make sure this one isn't too chilled to savour all the flavours."
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (06-Nov-2014)
"Not to my taste, too much oak for my liking masking the minerality and what little fruit there is."
Mr David Jones-Percival (24-Sep-2014)
"Delicious!! Well balanced, refreshing enough to drink on its own yet also rich and full with lots of interest to keep you going back for more. More of a contemplative rather than a party white but then again the more people introduced to good Chardonnay the better...."
Ms Katy Benson (01-May-2014)
JancisRobinson.com (24th Jun 2014)
answer to white burgundy. Good mid weight of fruit and lots of freshness and
integrity but great balance. Very good value. - Jancis Robinson"
thewinegang.com (5th May 2014)
"This is a notable
step up in quality from the Society's Chilean Chardonnay, which is a pretty
smart wine in itself. This one though, has been held back for an extra year so
it's taken on a richer, waxy, toasty note, while the sour lemon fruit offsets
these nuttiness a treat. - The Wine Gang"
Unknown (1st Apr 2014)
"Part barrel-fermented. Real texture and great value and freshness. Super cool but with enough crunchy green fruit. - Jancis Robinson MW"
"Decent enough but does not stand out in any particular way. Oak quite pronounced, giving body a marked creamy/sweet end and that's about it. Not very exciting or one to remember. Don't over-chill and take note of W S advice to decant 20mins before drinking.
Mr Terence Eastham (02-Nov-2013)
"I've not previously been a fan of chardonnay but I tasted this at a Society wine champions tasting and decided to buy a couple of bottles. Just had the first one and it was delicious. Went really well with baked salmon - and then with a strawberries and cream flan afterwards! Definitely on my "buy more of" list!"
Dr Paul Stockbridge (25-Aug-2013)
"Fabulous - good enough to serve at dinner with friends and cheap enough to open anytime. This was my second bottle and I shall order again. Most enjoyable."
Mr Simon Mountford (12-Aug-2013)
"Accurately described but fails to deliver, no real overriding characteristic, all things to all men. Well made, but indistinct. Comes on after time but too much hard work."
Mr Charles Stokes (07-Apr-2013)
The Guardian (20th Jul 2013)
"Opulent, creamy and very well priced - Fiona Beckett"
The Wine Gang (2nd May 2013)
"Another great Chilean bargain … a lean and mean Chardonnay with the cool, star-bright character of Limarí coming through in sharp focus alongside some savoury, subtly mealy flavours. "
JancisRobinson.com (4th Apr 2013)
"Part barrel-fermented. Juicy, green and with a hint of popcorn and bourbon"
"We had a bottle with this with squash risotto, as recommended by the Society's Wine and Food Matcher, and it did indeed work superbly. A sinewy wine, but there is enough fruit to taste. Would certainly hope to re-order."
Dr Christopher Currie (15-Jan-2012)
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We do moderate comments and reviews, purely to ensure that content published on The Wine Society's website is of value to members, and is fair and balanced. We're delighted to say that in the vast, vast majority of cases, our members' input is just that! We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
If a review or comment does not meet the rules above, then we may remove it from the site, and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Where we choose not to publish a rating, comment or review for a reason other than those listed here, we will reply to the member concerned by e-mail explaining our reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that their input can be reconsidered. We also reserve the right not to publish reviews that mention other wine merchants and competitors.
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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).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
We always include the abv (alcohol by volume) in our wines online, in our Lists and in our offers. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
It is generally accepted that over the last 20 years or so alcohol levels in wine have been increasing. There are many reasons why, including but not limited to 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 strip the flavour as well as the alcohol, and we don't buy wines made in this way.
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 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%. Our tasting notes should be able to give you an idea of the style and fullness of an individual wine.
We are committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows you to make your own informed choices.
An additional figure used on some labels (including all our Society and Exhibition wines) is the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content (so a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units ).
For more information, please get in touch with us or visit 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.