Lunch yesterday with Andy Gadsby, the former sales director of UK wine retail chain Oddbins. He resigned after some fifteen years with the company when it was briefly acquired by French-owned Castel, which set about closing shops and converting others to the Nicolas brand. “The high point of wine interest in the UK was the late 1990s. Then choice went wide, distribution went wide and price came down. If you can buy your wine along with your cornflakes at a supermarket, why wouldn’t you?” he says.
To drink, Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2003. I half-expected it to be over the hill but it was crackerjack. Pale yellow with a hint of green in colour, wonderful citrus fruit with a totally appropriate hint of vanilla on the palate. Slightly oily but not unctuous in texture and gentle but sufficient acidity. According to the property’s website, the wine has a pHof 3.1 – particularly low (pH being a measure of “active” acidity and the lower the pH, the higher the acidity) and no doubt part of the reason why this wine is in particularly good nick.