If you thought your hand would reach for a bottle of white Burgundy over a Colombard, Ugni Blanc blend, think again.

Corney & Barrow is one of the UK’s longest established, independent wine merchants. At a recent on-trade / press tasting, one of the interesting features was a blind taste-test. See a video here.

Most experienced wine writers are used to tasting blind. However, focusing on personal preferences rather than quality assessment or identification can throw up some illuminating surprises. 

Corney & Barrow devised the taste-test to help consumers navigate wines, using styles such as Light & Crisp for whites. Reds categories include Full Bodied and Spicy & Rich. Supermarkets are now merchandising some wines in this way. London-based merchant Bibendum also devised a taste test a while ago, see here for details.

Top picks from the Corney & Barrow tasting were:

Wiston Estate, Cuvée Brut, England, £32.95. UK fizz is so well established that regional differences and winemaking are now the talking points. This traditional method, ‘Champagne varieties’ is by an ex Nyetimber winemaker. The chic Tiffany blue label should appeal to the fashion pack. 

Corney & Barrow House White, £6.75, buy here. Less well known regions of France offer great value, everyday drinking. Gascony in the southwest, is home to Armagnac as well as fresh, appealing whites. This Colombard / Ugni Blanc blend is an excellent house white for any bar or at home. 

Domaine du Nozay, Sancerre, France, £11.50. Sancerre sells itself, being one of the UK’s most popular white wines. An organic producer of 15 hectares, this is a fuller, more complex style of Sauvignon Blanc, retaining freshness and zip. Delicious with savoury pastry dishes and cheeses. 

Enrico Santini, Campo alla Casa, Italy, £14.95. SuperTuscan region Bolgheri is better known for red ‘Bordeaux’ blends. However, Italian superstar grape Vermentino is well at home in the hot, coastal, red soils. Vibrant, rich and lemony, this white blend is a great alternative to Burgundy. 

Tenuta di Biserno, Biserno, Italy, £100. Still in the fabulous Tuscan region, this might seem a lot to spend on a bottle of red wine. But, think how much money one wastes on cheap clothes and parking tickets. Like buying designer classics, when you drink and share fine wine, it makes your day. 

Domaine Gilles Jourdan, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, France, £15.25. Affordable Burgundy is most wine lovers’ holy grail. Good merchants always fill this gap, knowing that if you like their modest wines, you then trust their fine wines. Pretty, juicy and very well made, this is one of the best at the price. 

Achaval Ferrer, Finca Mirador, Argentina, £57.50. One of Mendoza’s top producers run by the engaging Santiago, makes a trio of single vineyards Malbecs from top quality sites. This one is from 70 year old vines at 750m altitude giving concentration and power. Perfect for fillet steak. 

For all wines, see Corney & Barrow’s retail website.

(photo – Grover Webb / Flickr Creative Commons)

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