One of the (few) downsides of writing this column is that everyone thinks I know about wine.
As a result I'm always handed the wine list in every restaurant to ferret out that exceptional bottle or asked for recommendations for weddings and birthdays. No pressure there then.
I hope that I get it more right than wrong, but there's one occasion I leave the choosing to others. Every month £60 gets sucked out of my bank account, and every second month a nice chap called Iestyn from Lay & Wheeler rings me up and tells me the six bottles he's chosen for my so-called Discovery Case – each around the £20-£25 mark.
He does a pretty good job too. Some of the choices are a bit ho-hum, some a bit predictable, but every now and then he unearths a real gem that I haven’t come across before.
The best of these was a few months ago, a wine called Caro – a Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Argentina. I opened it on a quiet night in and was instantly hooked.
Caro is the product from the Rothschild family as they expand their global wine making, and the local Catena family, which has access to some of the best terroir in Mendoza.
In wine terms this is a pretty new project that has been producing since 2003. The intention at the outset was to produce a wine that combines the lushness of the local Malbec with the structure and sophistication of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon. It also combined local nous with the commercial acumen and drive of a world-class wine maker. This is a classy wine with no expense spared in the making. The grapes are hand picked and sorted, and come from Lujan de Cuyo, the ‘first growth’ region of Mendoza. The wine is stored in barrel for 18 months – a long time in the fast-turn world of Argentinian wine-making.
All this effort shows. Too much Argentinian Malbec can be one dimensional and samey. This though has real elegance and length, with a really good combination of plum and bramble fruit and enough tannin to give it structure and a sense that it will age graciously.
The Rothschilds, owners of Chateau Lafite and L’Evangile in Bordeaux, are not known in the wine world for underpricing their wine and I have every belief that they want, in time, to slap a really fancy price tag on Caro. Each vintage is better than the last and people in the know are getting to hear about it. Certainly the price for the 2014 seems to be on the rise, although L&W are still selling for £26 a bottle.
So this is a case of buy now, not so much while stocks last, but while you can still afford it without a grimace and a personal loan. Even better, put a few away for the next time someone asks you for a decent glass of something.
Caro, Barons de rothschild/Catena Mendoza, Argentina (Lay & Wheeler, £26)