Oddbins ‘sensational’ burgundy wines are fragrant, elegant and sensibly priced

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:17 02 September 2016

Pascal Marchand, biodynamic grower of fine Nuits St Georges

Pascal Marchand, biodynamic grower of fine Nuits St Georges

Archant

Usually, to spend wisely, I suggest you find an independent merchant, explain your likes and dislikes and let knowledgeable staff advise. That still holds good, but here’s another approach: go to Oddbins.

If wines are gods, burgundy is Janus: definitely two faced. It should be the epitome of drinking pleasure, but too often distinguishing delight from expensive disappointment is very hard indeed.

Usually, to spend wisely, I suggest you find an independent merchant, explain your likes and dislikes and let knowledgeable staff advise.

That still holds good, but here’s another approach: go to Oddbins.

Its burgundy range was revamped earlier this year by Jenny Smith, a young living-in-London Canadian with impeccable wine taste.

For a year, she managed Oddbins in West Hampstead before moving to head office, now achieving her ambition to be one of the (very small) buying team.

When the wines she’s chosen were shown to the press, the line-up gained the accolade “sensational” from one of the most expert of wine commentators, Steven Spurrier.

Even before I’d heard his comment, I had a broad grin on my face. Wonderful classic reds, lightish in colour, superbly fragrant on nose and palate, and so sensibly priced.

The whites, too, are lovely – fresh, with elegant fruit and minerality.

These wines, most from the wonderful 2014 vintage, are bottles to enjoy with food, or sometimes on their own, fine expressions of place, of grape, of their growers’ long-gained expertise.

Buy them now, for burgundy prices are bound to rise, as 2016’s horrid weather (frost in late April, hail in June) is very likely to bring yet another severely reduced harvest.

Jenny’s choices, mostly below £25, are intended largely for drinking now, when the fruit is still dominant.

Pay more, wait longer – that’s another way to go, especially if you like the more savoury, farmyardy notes that pinot noir develops with time or you prefer fuller-bodied whites where oak is important and needs time to integrate and soften.

Most of the wines below should be in all shops (in addition to West Hampstead, there are Oddbins in Hampstead, Highgate, Kentish Town, Crouch End and Crouch End Broadway) or go to oddbins.com.

Oddbins is, though, far from a one-region specialist – just about all the wines at that tasting would happily find a place on my supper table.

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