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The underappreciated half bottle

Strike while it’s hot: Burrows Lightbourn Ltd has reduced the price of a handful of half-bottles of wine, by about 25 per cent. Whispering Angel is one of them

This morning found me wandering around the office muttering to myself: “What am I going to write about this week?”

The suggestion was offered that half bottles might be a good idea and, so, here we go.

Magnums, bottles and half-bottles usually have the same cork and neck size and so the amount of oxygen trapped under the cork is roughly the same.

As it is this element, and quite likely a small intrusion of it through the cork, that causes the wine to age, it is a fact that half-bottles age more quickly than bottles and magnums are even slower in their development.

It is a common belief that magnums are the ideal size, but half-bottles are underappreciated in my view.

They are ideal for a couple to enjoy a glass each and to use as a barometer of where your fine bottle and magnum sizes will go on their ageing journey. I will start with five choices that we have just reduced by about 25 per cent as they are peaking now and need to be moved.

No worries, though, as I have just tasted them all and they really are in A-1 condition.

Pick a year that rates 94/100 on vintage charts and a family that has been producing chablis for four generations and farm organically and how can you go wrong?

Our Defaix 2015 Chablis is aged in stainless steel tanks to respect the typicity of the appellation. The wine is characterised by its freshness, power and tenacity and the bouquet displays a dominance of mineral notes with delicate touches of citrus fruit (lemon and grapefruit). Was $19.80 and now $14.85.

There is not much left of the classic 2009 vintage in Bordeaux and it is a rare treat to find any of it, as Bordeaux-philes know that it rated 96/100 in St Emilion.

Last week, I wrote about Jonathan Maltus and here is your chance to try his Chateau Teyssier 2009 St Emilion Grand Cru that we have reduced from $20.90 to $14.85.

A great vintage like this can be most enjoyable for at least 15 years. I will quote Canadian critic Natalie Maclean: “91/100. A classic bordeaux that is superbly balanced and elegant.

“This 2009 vintage is underpriced and overshadowed by the big 2010 vintage, so here’s your bargain bordeaux.

“Snap it up! Aromas of blackcurrant, cassis and smoke. Nice finish. Great with steak.”

I don’t think that I need to introduce the next wine or tell you that it has altered the world wine market and firmly established a most important trend.

“We rather overstocked half bottles as we could not get regular-sized bottles due to the winery selling out.

I refer to Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Provence Rosé 2016.

James Suckling wrote: “91/100. Very pretty and perfumed with sliced peaches and flowers such as lilacs.

“Full-bodied, fresh and flavourful. Layered, textured and delicious.” Until the new vintage arrives, these will be $13; they were $16.75.

The 2011 vintage was rated 92/100 in Tuscany and we have halves of San Felice 2011 Chianti Classico Reserva that have gone from $14.95 to $11.

This winery is an ancient Roman hamlet, replete with hotel, where you can vacation, and their wines are such excellent values.

It was rated 90/100 by Wine Enthusiast magazine, which wrote: “This firmly structured sangiovese opens with aromas of underbrush, fragrant purple flowers, ripe berry and a whiff of ground pepper.

“On the savoury palate, notes of liquorice, clove and espresso add depth to the core of ripe cherry.”

The 2011 vintage was also classic in Sauternes (remember always an “s” on the end, but don’t ever dare pronounce it) and we have reduced the second wine of the great premier grand cru of 1855, Chateau Rieussec, that is a part of the Baron Eric de Rothschild estates.

I will quote Wine Enthusiast on our Carmes de Rieussec 2011: “2011 was a great year for sauternes and this second wine of Rieussec shows great botrytis weight and richness as well as a floral and fruity character.

“Bitter orange marmalade and honey give this still youthful wine its sweeter and fruitier side. Drink from 2016.”

Down from $22.75 to just $15 and enough to enhance the dessert for a dinner party of four.

If this helps you decide that half-bottles can be a treat that is well worth pursuing, then I will quickly mention some of our top sellers: Catena 2016 Mendoza Malbec ($13.20); Jolivet Sancerre 2017 ($18.35) and Terrabianca 2014 Campaccio Super Tuscan ($20).

Why not start the meal with a fine white and then move on to a charming red?

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm