Staff Choices 2017

Wine is something to be shared and enjoyed. The 'Staff Choice' section, which is updated each month, gives a different staff member from The Society's 200-strong team the opportunity to share a wine from our range that they've particularly enjoyed – and why they think Society members would too.

Below you'll find an archive of this year's previous recommendations from Society staff.
Please note that, as some were published some time ago, not all of the wines will be in stock and some of the prices will be out of date.


December 2017

Saint-Joseph Mairlant, Domaine Villard 2010

I love reds packed full of fruit and which are punchy enough to hold up to a nice meat dish. It's also important for me to have a wine where I can enjoy a glass on its own too, just as it is. For many years, much of my wine choices have centred around one grape: syrah (aka shiraz). Aged big Rhônes are a regular choice and having enjoyed wines from the region for well over a decade I can give them a big thumbs up.

I find that such wines are great at this time of year, and this superb pure syrah could well be one for the decanter on Christmas Day. Its jammy black-fruit style, with a classic touch of peppery spice, keeps me coming back for more. With full-on fruity flavours and a soft velvety finish, it’s also a sure bet with all my friends and family! The classic, stylish bottle only adds to its appeal.

It's so juicy, delicious and easy to drink you'll be fighting over the last glass so make sure there's more than one bottle in the rack, just in case! If you're looking for a food match, we love it with lamb and roast poultry with all the traditional trimmings.

Ken KendallKen Kendall
Senior Member Services Adviser

£21 - Bottle
£252 per dozen
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Previous Staff Choices

November 2017

The Wolftrap, Western Cape 2016

I love this time of year when the leaves on the trees turn gold and temperatures drop at night, and red wine is definitely the colour of choice! I poured The Wolftrap at a recent tasting and, not having tried it for quite a while, it was a bit of a revelation! The wonderful smoky flavours with oodles of velvety fruit would be perfect to drink on bonfire night – a good match for fireworks, sausages on the BBQ, the scent of roasting chestnuts and sparklers fizzing in the cold night air.

However this wine is not just for bonfire night: any night will do, frankly, either with something hearty to eat or by itself in front of a roaring fire. Bliss!

Emma DorahyEmma Dorahy
Buying Admin Team Leader

£7.95 - Bottle
£95 per dozen
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October 2017

Gewurztraminer, Cave de Turkheim 2016

I’m a bit of a spice and curry fiend so am always keen to discover a wine that can complement and hold its own against the array of flavours found in some of my favourite foods. I first came across this delicious gewurztraminer having been tasked by friends to supply the wine for a BYOB Indian meal at Cinnamon on Brick Lane. Its aromatic floral flavours work equally brilliantly with rich meat curries, fragrant fish dishes and savoury daal. It also has a ripe, peachy sweetness without being cloying thanks to a touch of peppery spice.

It has become my go to curry companion (great with a quick midweek Thai green) but I’m also very pleased to report - through extensive research - that it pairs very well with softer cheeses; I particularly like it with slivers (ok, chunks in all honesty!) of Camembert.

I think it’s great value at just shy of £10 and really hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Catherine HousdenCatherine Housden
Member Services adviser

£9.50 - Bottle
£114 per dozen
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September 2017

Louis Guntrum Dry Riesling 2016

Cut me and I’ll bleed riesling. There’d be some real, actual blood as well, but what I’m trying to say is that I really like riesling. Characterful, versatile and downright delicious, it’s the grape that everyone says they don’t like before they actually try it, and this gorgeous example – recommended to me by fellow copywriter compadre Martin Brown – has converted plenty of naysayers recently.

Bursting with mouthwatering lime, pear and gooseberry flavours, it manages to achieve bracing freshness, while not subjecting the roof of your mouth to that mouthpuckering post-peardrop tenderness that other particularly acidic wines can. A lean, mean mineral seam conjures the breeziness of the Rhein which, incidentally runs through the heart of the Guntrum’s beautiful vineyards. Back in February, we were lucky enough to be joined for a guest tasting by owner Konstantin Guntrum, whose infectious enthusiasm and obvious passion was as vibrant and life-affirming as the wines themselves.

More interesting than sauvignon blanc, less divisive than chardonnay, this is the perfect bottle to enjoy with friends as summer draws to a close.

Rosie AllenRosie Allen
Content Creator & Editor

£8.95 - Bottle
£53.50 - Case of six
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August 2017

Brindisi Rosato Vigna Flaminio, Vallone 2016

I know it’s a cliché, but I do seem to drink a lot more rosé over the summer months than at any other time of the year. Maybe it’s because rosé wine is so inherently cheerful, or perhaps because it goes so well with BBQs and makes you feel like you have a little slice of the south of France in your back garden whilst you’re sipping.

Whatever the reason, we’re lucky here as The Wine Society has plentiful supplies of pink, and this one is my current favourite.

This is not your barely blushing pink so favoured in Provence, rather a big gutsy style of rosé from southern Italy made from negroamaro and montepulciano with heaps of red-fruit flavours and hints of spice.

This is a perfect food wine – we had it last week with butterflied lamb cooked on the BBQ and a green salad with an anchovy dressing. See below for the recipe – it’s extremely easy to make, lasts for ages in the fridge and is very tasty.

Recipe for the anchovy dressing…

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 small tin of anchovies
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blitz it all together in a blender and pour sparingly over salad leaves – the more bitter the better!

Emma BriffettEmma Briffett
Tastings & Events Co-Ordinator

£7.75 - Bottle
£46.50 - Case of six
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July 2017

Herència Altés Garnatxa Blanca, Terra Alta 2015

I’m lucky enough to be married to someone passionate about wine who also happens to be our Warehouse and Supply Chain Manager. So quite often I get handed an unknown glass at home on a Friday night. I’m never disappointed but this was a wine that justified an ‘Oooh, what’s this?’

They say you should never judge a book by its cover and never judge a wine by its label, but the romance and story telling that comes from the delicate front label made me love this wine even more. Nothing beats a great-tasting wine with a wonderfully personal story, which the producer Nùria Altés shares on the back of the bottle. I never get tired of hearing about the passion winemakers put into their vineyards and their wines.

Herència Altés Garnatxa Blanca, Terra Alta 2015 is full in the mouth but with plenty of fresh grapefruit acidity to clean the finish. As a sauvignon blanc fan, I feel it offers a richer and more complex alternative. It’s a surprisingly modern Spanish white wine.

So this is a wine I no longer wait to be handed: I put it on the list to bring it home!

Georgie ClearyGeorgie Cleary
Member Services Adviser

£7.95 - Bottle
£47.50 - Case of six
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June 2017

Undurraga Cauquenes Estate Maule Garnacha 2015

Keen-eyed readers may note that this is the second garnacha to make an appearance as a Staff Choice since the turn of the year. This one hails from the new world, and shows great fruit-forward character.

I first came across it when part of a team testing new shipments of wines, and was staggered by the quality and the complexity at this price point. Since it came onto our books, we have had this wine at home a number of times and it has never disappointed.

Undurraga are a great Chilean producer. I recommend their Carignan-Mourvèdre blend as well, but feel that this garnacha offers the best value for money, just sneaking in at under the £10 barrier. The wine shows brambly fruit on the nose, and this gives way to lovely sweet fruit on the palate, with touches of blackcurrant, aniseed and vanilla. It is 14.5% but this is not overpowering, just comforting!

It may or may not be sunny outside, but we can all still enjoy hearty food whatever the weather. This wine can work with casseroles and BBQ meats; our favourite match though is to have it with bangers & mash. Enjoy!

Paul BousfieldPaul Bousfield
Member Services Adviser

£9.50 - Bottle
£114 - Case of 12
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May 2017

Momo Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014

This pinot noir is a firm family favourite, having been purchased a number of times over the years. We find New Zealand pinot noir a versatile food wine, able to be matched with a variety of meat and vegetable dishes, or perhaps a rich salmon dish. Our most recent bottle was served with moussaka (reheated from earlier in the week when it is even nicer than the first time – the moussaka was reheated, not the Momo).

Momo is made by Seresin and is a very attractive pale red, typical of pinot noir and a lovely nose of red currants and raspberries, a fresh but not sweet summer pudding. The taste is between a Burgundy and some new world pinots, elegant but certainly not lean. This is a mouthwatering wine that leaves one wanting another glass. Organically produced, with a tendency, at least in our house, to evaporate in the glass!

David MarshDavid Marsh
Head of Information Systems

£11.50 - Bottle
£138 - Case of 12
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April 2017

HMS Buffalo Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

I love wines that that offer great drinking pleasure on their own as well as with a meal; a fridge door white, a fireside red, a quintessential quaffer! The key thing with this style of wine is to be smooth and easy drinking (and not too heavy on the pocket!) but have enough complexity and interest to keep you drinking it with a smile on your face.

This classic cab-shiraz blend ticks all these boxes for me. Upfront, ripe dark fruits entice you in; with a lovely hint of spice and black olives on the nose to keep you swirling and sipping. On the palate the ripe (but not jammy) fruit continues, with a good finish for an under-£7 wine.

The easy-drinking nature of this wine means you can have a glass with any dish that calls for a juicy full-bodied red (bangers and mash is one of my favourites) and then enjoy a glass afterwards whilst winding down.

Joe BarringtonJoe Barrington
Member Services Adviser

£6.95 - Bottle
£83 - Case of 12
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March 2017

The Society's Rioja Crianza 2012

This is a wine that I have enjoyed for a very long time and is currently the preferred red in our household, which is no mean feat!

With this being such a staple wine I’ve really come to appreciate the consistent level of quality. No matter what quantity I purchase it in, it never lasts long (surely the perfect endorsement). This has led me to recommend it to many a friend and family member and I would urge anyone reading this to give it a try.

Nice and smooth with a little bit of oak, this is keenly priced everyday-drinking Rioja, which for my mind is very hard to beat. Over the years we’ve tried it with many different dishes (as well as on its own plenty of times), the most recent being a delicious rendang curry which worked an absolute treat.

Pete JamesPete James
Member Services Team Leader

£7.50 - Bottle
£90 - Case of 12
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February 2017

Laderas del Tiétar Garnacha, Gredos 2015

I have to say I have real passion for Spanish wines and this grenache – hailing from a small region north of Madrid high in the Gredos mountains – is a great example.

The grapes come from old low-yielding old bush vines grown in the Gredos mountain range near Madrid, and it's this combination of high altitude and low yields that gives the wine a freshness and vitality that will raise a smile and have you reaching for a second glass. For me it was the perfect antidote to the more esoteric wines we tend to drink over the Christmas period and certainly punches above its weight.

As for what I would drink it with… well, when one of the winemakers was asked the same question at our Spanish tasting last year he simply replied 'whatever you like'!

David ConnorDavid Connor
The Cellar Showroom

£8.50 - Bottle
£102 - Case of 12
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January 2017

Esporão Monte Velho, Alentejo 2015

Having spent my wine budget rather lustily during the Christmas period, I'm looking for maximum bang for buck for any New Year indulgences.

Thankfully, this under-£7 Portuguese white ticks all the boxes. It was one of the stars of my visit to Portugal with Society buyer Jo Locke MW last year; and it's a testament to its quality that it can shine every bit as brightly in a grey Hertfordshire January as it did in front of the sun-soaked vista of Esporão's tasting room!

This blend of local grapes (roupeiro, antão vaz and perrum) is the top seller in its price bracket on the Portuguese market, and winemaker David Baverstock hit the nail on the head at our tasting when he said it offers 'a lot of sophistication for a big-blend wine from a hot climate'. The ripe 2015 vintage offers a little extra generosity of body, citrus fruit and even some leafy complexity too, making this the perfect opportunity to try it. This is no one-dimensional summer quaffer, but really quite a refined foodie white that will work well for wintry sipping too, and I hope you like it as much as I do!

Martin BrownMartin Brown
Digital Content & Communications Editor

£6.95 - Bottle
£41.50 - Case of six
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