George Osborne stealthily added another 11p to an average bottle of wine, meaning pure tax on any bottle before you’ve even started is £2.28 (£2.92 on sparkling wine). Over the last four years, tax on wine has risen by nearly 50% – compared to 15% in the eight years preceding that. The UK is now top of the European charts for wine duty. (Thanks to Gavin for the analysis.)
The day after the budget, David Cameron announced plans for minimum pricing on alcohol, a concept that will be expensive to implement, hard to police and with no guarantee of helping solve the issue of problem drinking.
So now that George Osborne and David Cameron are firmly off the Christmas card list, what to enjoy this weekend?
Well here at least we come onto some good news. Firstly, the new duty rates don’t come into force until Monday, so it’s worth stocking up now. Secondly, the Wine Society, which held a press tasting yesterday, is on fire – surely one of, if not the best major wine retailer in the UK on current form.
It does cost £40 to join but you get access to one of the best lists in UK retail – and at the moment it comes with £10 off your first order. The Wine Society was recently rated as the best wine club in the UK in a survey conducted by Which? magazine.
Below are a couple of beautiful wines that would do a wonderful job of soothing wine lovers’ anxieties at the end of a tough old week.
The Society’s Exhibition New Zealand Chardonnay 2010, 13.5% (£12.50) – made by fellow Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich at Kumeu River, an outstanding Chardonnay producer, this delightful wine just sings. Nutty, toasty aromas lead into a spicy, elegantly crafted flavour profile that’s layered, fine and stunning. One for crab linguine. 7.5-8/10
Concha y Toro Corte Ignacio Casablanca Riesling 2010, 12% (£8.25) – pure, vibrant flavours of green apples and lime. Crunchy, very slightly off-dry (you taste it as roundness and textural elegance), very deftly made. Ideal for spicy seafood dishes. 7-7.5/10
Weinert Carrascal 2007, 14% (£7.50) – what a bargain! Elegantly mature, tons of dark ripe fruit, pencil lead and earthy, meaty flavours. Succulent and moreish – especially at the price. 6.5+/10
De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2011, Itata, 13% (£8.95) – can’t help recommending this one. New-wave Chile at its finest – forget big Maipo Cabs, think good Beaujolais crossed with Valpolicella with a sprig of thyme and a dollop of New World sun. It’s spring in a red wine glass, and at a fantastic price too. Snap it up. 7/10
Viña Leyda Classic Reserve Syrah 2010, 14% (£6.50) – surely one of the very best Rhône-style Syrahs out there at this price. Great value. Vivid aromas of black pepper, dried violets and fresh meat. It’s juicy, refreshing, food-friendly. Sensational stuff for the price. 7.5/10
The Society’s Corbières 2009, 14.5% (£7.25) – lovely, classic red with hints of incense and juicy dark fruit flavours with a nip of tannin. Great for hearty food like a sausage casserole. 6.5/10