Staff Choices 2020
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note that, as some were published some time ago, not all of the wines will be in stock and some of the prices will be out of date.
NEW STAFF CHOICE
At the back end of last year, I was coaxed by one of our wily Showroom staff members into spending my Christmas wine budget on a Mystery Case. I’m glad I did as my treasure was bountiful – an array of wines spanning years and regions that I rarely get to try. The case included a delightful 2014 German Riesling that although we were no longer selling, a quick Google search confirmed a value of £25 per bottle, well beyond my normal spend. I opened the riesling one evening shortly after lockdown began and encouraged my wife to give it a try. She’s not normally a white wine drinker – over the years I’ve struggled to find an anyday white to her standard – she’d much rather dip into a house red than a house white. And to her credit, on this occasion she was consistent in her assessment and declared that she loved it. Of course, my wife has expensive white-wine tastes!
There began my lockdown quest to find a reasonably priced white that my wife and I could both enjoy. My journey was surprisingly short.
My very next order included a bottle of The Society’s Saar Riesling, and in retrospect I’m not sure why I hadn’t bought it previously. It’s a delightful wine, with plenty of depth and character. It has a wonderful balance – the acidity stands up well to food but there is still enough fruit character (and a low enough alcohol) to drink it on its own.
It was the first wine I opened from a case of six whites that I hoped would meet the rigorous judgement of my wife, and it passed with flying colours. We enjoyed it that evening with a fish curry, but have since bought a full case and have opened bottles to enjoy with Sunday lunch, sushi, and a socially distanced picnic with friends.
Whether on a lockdown wine quest or just looking for a new favourite, I’d highly recommend it.
Product Marketing Manager
£10.95 - Bottle
£131 case of 12
Previous Staff Choices
Put simply, I love this wine! I would even be so bold as to say this is probably my all-time favourite wine from The Society and its history as a regular Wine Champion in our buyers’ blind tastings backs how great it is!
I discovered it whilst studying for my WSET level 2 and it’s always been front of mind as one of my favourites. Served chilled, it’s refreshing, easy to drink and its sweet and peachy flavours with floral notes make it the perfect summer friend, or a lovely dessert wine! It’s also very low in alcohol which means I don’t feel so guilty for not sharing during these socially distanced times…
Product Marketing Manager
£8.50 - Bottle
£51 case of six
I have a confession to make. I didn’t consciously buy this wine; it was part of an order I had placed for a village wine club tasting that I was going to present to over Easter. Then lockdown happened and I held off dipping into the wine club’s wines (I had actually paid for them, I would like to point out!) for as long as possible. Then we had the first of our socials via Zoom with work colleagues. ‘Join us for a Friday night glass together, the theme is sauvignon blanc,’ the email went. Well, as much as I like sauvignon blanc, I didn’t have any at home, so I thought what’s closest in style? It was time to break open the Camel Valley Bacchus.
Actually, I had been dying for an excuse to try this wine ever since wine writer Olly Smith had sung its praises in an article he wrote for us last year. It is still relatively unusual to find straight varietal wines in the UK but if any grape is going to be our flag-carrier, I reckon bacchus could be it. With its aromas of nettles and hedgerow it seems to epitomise the fragrance of this green and pleasant land in the same way that privet and freshly mown grass does, and hence the sauvignon blanc substitute suitability!
Actually, on opening, the wine is more heady and exotic than you might expect of an English wine, with hints of elderflower and a touch of white peach and even the subtlest suggestion of white pepper… those Cornish hillsides must be a bit of a suntrap! What makes it a winning package is the way these aromas combine with really bright crisp acidity which carry the flavours through on the palate.
It really was a beautiful pick-me-up at the end of a strange week and perfect sitting outside in the early evening sun. And probably gave me a bit more to think about than a straight sauvignon blanc would (sorry, sauvignon!). I liked the way it was no shrinking violet at the table too… a natural choice for fish and chips, a bit too crisp for my curry, but absolutely perfect with a goat’s cheese and tarragon tart that I rediscovered how to make.
If I haven’t convinced you to try a bottle for yourself, I will just add that my non-wine obsessed partner rarely comments on the glasses I pour for him. Rather annoyingly he seems to have quite a refined palate (always picking out the priciest wines on the occasions we have visited cellars and tasted their wares blind!); without looking at what we were drinking, unprompted, he said ‘this is rather nice’… believe me, that is high praise indeed in this house!
News & Content Editor
£13.95 - Bottle
£83.50 case of six
I've always had a soft spot for Italian wines. There is such a vast range of styles and price points – something for everyone. Made by the team at Feudo Arancio on the southern coast of Sicily, this wine showcases the wonderful nero d'Avola grape and demonstrates richness and warmth from the basking sun, along with a delightful freshness from the coastal winds.
There is a lovely subtle sweetness to the nose, some black cherry, smoked chipotle, basil leaf and creamy vanilla from the careful oak ageing. The soft tannins gently hug your gums as the wines slips down.
This red is beautifully smooth in texture and has great richness and depth of flavour considering its medium body and moderate alcohol level at 13.5%. More cherry flavours on the palate with pomegranate seed, herbs and vanilla on the finish – perfectly balanced and extremely moreish!
I would enjoy it with a spag bol or penne al'arrabiata, but it would also be great alongside bangers and mash with gravy or just on its own.
This is undoubtedly one of the best wines in The Society's own-label range for quality, flavour and value for money. Try a bottle with your next order if you haven't already!
£8.50 - Bottle
£102 case of 12
We found ourselves opening this whisky on a rainy Monday evening in January (for the purposes of this review of course!). University Challenge had been turned off so we could concentrate fully on the task in hand.
The stylish contemporary box was opened (which looked like it could have contained an expensive men’s fragrance) and we took out the equally modern-looking bottle. We poured ourselves a midweek-sized measure; the colour was reminiscent of maple syrup or honey. It had a medium strength aroma of burnt sugar/caramel, and a slightly smokey, honeysuckle sweetness. A sweet sherry aroma develops in the glass, and the texture is creamy and smooth. There was a slightly bitter aftertaste as if biting on an orange skin. This is not a whisky that has the peaty or ashtray characteristics: it has a more subdued, subtle flavour.
We tried another glass (why not?) with water added this time, and we found it even smoother, the creamy texture and the sweet sherry and bitter orange coming through even more.
It’s a lovely drop – I would urge you to try it!
Member Services Adviser
£37 - 50cl Bottle
Italy is an amazingly deep treasure chest of wine, and my favourite wine country of them all. From top to toe of the Italian boot, whether fresh Alpine delights of pinot bianco, gutsy Mediterranean richness of primitivo or something in between, with over 300 indigenous grape varieties there truly is something for everyone.
My current midweek wine rack favourite – not that I have a wine rack specifically set aside for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you understand – is a bright and fresh red from the owners of Monte Schiavo who are makers of The Society’s Verdicchio. Tenute Pieralisi are masters at making Rosso Piceno, a DOC wine in the Marche region blended from montepulciano (native to the region) and sangiovese (the Chianti grape).
A perfect pizza or pasta wine, the freshness of bright red fruit flavours, including plum and sour cherry, the touch of tannin and the merest hint of oak also make it ideal with grilled red meats or even soft cheeses.
I’m enjoying a post-ravioli glass of it now as I write, and am delighting in its delicious and moreish long fruity finish.
At £8.50 it offers, like so many Italian wines, excellent value for money. Cheers!
£8.50 - Bottle
£102 case of 12