Matthew Jukes, www.matthewjukes.com, 4th Aug 2023
I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to Piemonte, in North-West Italy, to taste every elite bottle I could find to finish my 2023 Piemonte Report. The weather was unseasonably warm, so every red wine I ordered in restaurants would have been ruined at 35C air temperature were it not for the ever-excellent bar staff, sommeliers, and front-of-house stars serving these wines chilled. Not one restaurant missed a trick, delivering bottles to the table at cellar temperature, which would have seemed cold on a winter’s day, but perfect in this climate, and then they returned with a cold sleeve or an ice bucket minutes later. Italians invariably know how to get these details right, meaning every wine was sensational. On my return, on yet another massively delayed EasyJet flight, I asked myself: What is the finest red wine in the UK, with a sub-£15 price tag, that adores being served chilled? The winner is Cuvée de l’Héronde. Winemaker Jean-Luc Ducruix is a talented chap because he captures the wild berry and cherry fruit, crisp acidity, vital minerality, and joy of his vineyards in every sip. This captivating Côte-de-Brouilly is sensational, bursting with class, refinement, energy, and brightness, and it has the enviable skill of tasting as lip-smacking chilled as it does at normal red wine temperature (in the winter). If that wasn’t all, Jean-Luc makes a cheeky little 2022 Beaujolais-Villages, Gamay Noir (£13.40, reduced to £11.90), that comes in at an even more competitive price tag while delivering an even lighter and racier vinous experience. Make space in your fridge for this pair this summer!