On Wine

Cupboard love affair

An MP sorts through the collection of wines gathering dust in the office cupboard

A time honoured perk of the Government Pairing Whip is the occasional gift from a minister grateful for a “slip” allowing them to miss votes in the Commons. These gifts more often than not come in liquid form. Over the years an eclectic collection of bottles of varying shapes, sizes and distinctions has grown, gathering dust in the office cupboard.

The dust is not symptomatic of a new puritanism amongst those charged with delivering the government’s legislation but rather the result of Newton’s three laws; today’s whips are constantly in motion and at the time of writing no external force (for example a general election) has intervened to allow them any time to drink the fruits of the pairing whip’s kindness.

A regular source of such gifts is Berry Brothers & Rudd, from their recently refurbished premises in St James’s Street. Though lots of character has gone, most of their staples remain. Among them is BBR’s Good Ordinary Claret, a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot currently selling at £10.95 a bottle. “GOC” is favoured by a particular colleague who fancies himself something of a vinocrat. It is perhaps a little too rich. There is plenty of nose and a body redolent of liquorice and ripe black fruits putting it on the heavier side of medium.

Yet the tannin level is just a tad tasty for my palate. Imagine biting into a cherry cake only to discover you have mistakenly picked up the Christmas pudding. What you suppose will be a smooth touch to the tongue and an easy and warming wash to the back of the throat somehow moves sluggishly, feeling curiously brittle.

My guess is that it will remain in the whips’ cupboard until such time as the office Christmas party requires its serving to an assortment of colleagues who have already done the rounds of several receptions.

There was, however, one bottle worth the having. Tucked away at the back was a St Joseph 2013. Jean and Pierre Gonon’s Mauves slopes turn out some of the best wines of the Rhône, using Syrah grapes and their own secret sorcery to produce a flavour fresh yet layered, soft to the palate with pleasant tannins and a spicy flourish at the finish. It is ready now and if still in the cupboard (middle shelf left) should be dusted down and polished off at the first celebratory opportunity.

These wines can be ordered from Berry Bros & Rudd on 0800 280 2440

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