Wine Club

Our nine merchant partners – Armit Wines, Corney & Barrow, FromVineyardsDirect, Honest Grapes, Mr Wheeler, Private Cellar, Swig, Tanners and Yapp Bros – represent the cream of the UK’s independents and boast centuries of experience between them. They all have particular areas of expertise and stock wines that you would never be able to find on the supermarket shelves or local off-licence.

All-French white wines, courtesy of FromVineyardsDirect

After a week in Hungary, I’ve almost forgotten what French wines taste like. I’m just back from our inaugural Spectator tour of Budapest and Tokaj where, in the company of my colleague Richard Bratby and 20 or so extremely engaging and really quite thirsty readers, I drank little else but dry Furmint, sweet Tokaji and

Ten quality bottles from Swig Wines

Robin Davis of Swig Wines, specialists in sourcing quirky wines from passionate, artisanal and often eccentric producers, sent me so many bottles to choose from that I got in a right stew. Mrs Ray despaired at my indecision and repaired upstairs with a bottle and a box set. I couldn’t whittle the selection down to

A tasty Kiwi sextet, courtesy of Honest Grapes

New Zealand, ah, New Zealand! I don’t know anyone who has been there who hasn’t been completely bewitched by the country. I’m lucky enough to have gone there many times, though not for ages. I haven’t felt ready to return, being scarred by a night of bad judgment and poor behaviour in Wellington a few

Top-notch Beaujolais, courtesy of Mr Wheeler

Hurrah! It’s May and time for our annual offer of top-notch Beaujolais from family-owned Maison Jean Loron (est: 1711), courtesy of Mr Wheeler. All the wines are 100 per cent Gamay, of course, but they’re very different, each with their own subtle characteristics and quirks and Mrs Ray and I had quite an evening delving

Fresh mixed cases from Tanners

I was snitched on last week. You know how it is – after a long, wine-soaked lunch in town, I tottered off full of bonhomie to catch the train back to Skid Row-on-Sea and, to ward off any incipient hangover, nipped into M&S for a couple of those little plastic bottles of rosé they have

Sell-out bottles for Spectator subscribers

We’ve some cracking South African wines on offer this week, courtesy of Private Cellar, including yet another bona fide Spectator scoop: the exclusive on the 2023 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. For one week only, The Spectator is the only place where these wines – made in tiny quantities and destined to sell

A vinous scoop for Spectator readers

Klaxon alert! We’ve a bona fide Spectator scoop and if you love Chateau Musar as much as I think you do – and all Speccie readers love Ch. Musar – then please get your skates on! Our good friends at Mr Wheeler are giving us ten days before anyone else (including the Wine Society) in

Spectator Wine

Italy’s victory over Scotland in last week’s Six Nations Rugby provoked much merriment in our house. Our Scottish chums watching with us were stunned into grumpy silence, and the grumpier they got, the funnier this seemed. It took many bottles to restore their good humour. Said bottles were all Italian, of course, courtesy of Honest

How to celebrate in style

It was Mrs Ray’s birthday the other day. Or rather it was what she now terms her birthday week – seven days during which flags fly, trumpets sound, corks pop and she can do no wrong. I find it all quite exhausting. It’s not just the running up and down with cups of tea and

Vinous treasures from Yapp Brothers

Oh dear, I’m about to be ‘Yapped’. Jason and Tom, those evil geniuses behind Yapp Bros – in fact they’re step-bros – are taking me on their next buying trip. I love them dearly, but rarely return from such expeditions unscathed, and yet again fear for my well-being. Unrivalled as they are in rootling out

Delicious wines to celebrate the end of Dry January 

Water wagon? What water wagon? With Dry January now just a ghastly memory, let’s start cracking open the vino. And, crikey, we’ve a corking offer with FromVineyardsDirect to tempt you. If you don’t salivate immediately, well, I don’t think you like wine at all. FVD need to clear the decks to take in newer vintages

The perfect wines for a post-Christmas restock

Cooee, we’re back! Come on, wine lovers, it’s time to get cracking! Whether you’re clinging desperately to the water wagon like me or enjoying a liquor-fuelled January like Mrs Ray (she didn’t feel very well this morning, bless her), we have work to do refilling those bare wine racks that were plundered during the festivities.

Bottles from Honest Grapes to ward off Christmas Affected Doom

My annual bout of CADDAD (Christmas Affected Doom, Depression and Despondency) struck early this year. It’s a terrible affliction about which I’ve written many times before and it knocked me flat in late September, just as the first mince pies and Christmas puddings appeared in the supermarkets. Stoicism being my middle name, I dug deep

Vinous highlights from a lush year, courtesy of Private Cellar

It has been a gloriously wine-soaked year for us lushes at the Spectator Wine Club, during which we have worked closely with our chums at Private Cellar, the leading independent merchant based on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens. PC’s marketing director, Laura Taylor, was not only headteacher at this year’s Spectator Wine School, she

Six tempting South American bottles from Honest Grapes

Our Spectator Wine Time Friday/BYOB lunch last week was a belter, with 15 of us managing to see off 21 bottles quite comfortably and with no apparent ill effects. Indeed, we all left pretty much as steadily as we arrived, and I was proud that several readers still had it in them to enjoy a