Wines+Crime of the Week

(by peter & susie)

There are three things in life guaranteed to ensure you never forget Valentine’s Day.

One is being married. The next is being a journalist. The third is being a married journalist specialising in food and wine with a healthy interest in chocolate and rosé.

It’s true that a staggering amount of wine and wine paraphernalia – like books – are shifted as a result of special occasions such as Christmas and father’s/mother’s day.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that producers and retailers go into over-drive at this time of year in an attempt to hawk their products to a public vaguely minded to mark Valentine’s Day with stuff that is pink and pleasurable.

This month, as ever in our free School News bulletin, we’re sorting the real deals from the shoddy shams in our list of the best bargains on there on the high street right now. It’s a special edition featuring plenty of options for Valentine’s – and not just rosé fizz.

But, on that note, here’s a mini-taster of what we’ll be recommending – and avoiding.

Wine crime of the Week

‘Buy 2 bottles of Laurent Perrier Rosé and get £28 off!’ shrieks the banner headline from Oddbins. ‘A perfect gift for Valentine’s Day!’

Not for ours, it won’t be.

It’s only when you read the smaller print further on that you notice that these bottles are reduced not from any sensible price, but instead from the absurd £59.99 down to a still laughable £45.99.

Our advice? Leave this mediocre fizz to the playboys and Premiership footballers.

Wines of the Week

We’ve already written about the laudable Millione project (click here to see our report). This eminently gluggable, succulent Italian pink fizz donates £1 for every bottle to funding community-run primary schools in Sierra Leone. It’s available at around £8 from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons and Laithwaites.

For those looking to splash out on pink fizz, we’d recommend Veuve Clicquot Rosé Brut NV (£37.99, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges).

We’ve found many Veuve wines to be of indifferent quality lately, but this is a return to form from a house that tends to take rosé seriously. It has a serious, bready nose with touches of herbs and summer fruits. On the palate, it is fine, well rounded and elegant – rich enough to be moreish, refined enough to be food-friendly and ageworthy. Delicious harmony (surely what you look for on Valentine’s Day..?) Our rating: 7/10

If you fancy fizz but not rosé, and are fleet of foot, then Sainsbury’s have Lanson Black Label Brut NV on offer at half price (£14.74) but only until tomorrow – ie 8th Feb 2011. Some restrictions apply, as ever – ie max 3 bottles per person, not available at Central and Locals.

If you’re after vintage fizz, then Moët & Chandon 2002 (£38.99, Waitrose, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols) is tasting very well, with some pleasant nutty evolution (our rating: 7-7.5/10). Also on top form are the delightfully hedonistic Bollinger 2000 (from £55.99, Oddbins, Tesco) and the similarly complex but notably elegant Pol Roger 2000 (from £46.39, Oddbins).

Finally, a great deal we couldn’t overlook is the gutsy, enjoyable red Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2007, currently on offer at just £4.99 at Majestic (minimum purchase 6 bottles).