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Bristol Bites wine writer Bryn Stephens checks out the higher end of the wine list at Clifton’s Cote Brasserie. To read more of Bryn’s posts, click here…

It is a goal of mine to change people’s wine buying habits, both in restaurants and in shops. Not all the time, understand. I occasionally love a cheap, sickly sweet rose, or a bargain basement red to see off a week day full of stress and anger as much as the next person, but most of the time, I thoroughly enjoy spending money on great wine.

When you consider that duty and VAT on wine is getting higher and higher every year, it amazes me that people don’t see that the value of the liquid in a bottle of wine they pay a fiver for is steadily going down and down. Duty and VAT on a bottle with a retail value of £5 accounts for almost 60% of the cost of the wine! When you spend over £15, this goes down to around 15-20%. The moral of the story here is folks, that the more you spend on wine, the better value you are getting! So most of the time when I go to a restaurant, I end up perusing the higher echelons of the wine list to find some real belters. And this is where I found this fine example for my argument…

I was dining at Cote Brasserie in Clifton Village the other night with my parents in tow and was searching for something cheeky to go with the lamb we had ordered. Cote has become well known for offering great food at a reasonable price. It may be a chain, but the fact is that they get the offering right where a lot don’t. Their entirely French wine list is very well suited to the food and also reasonably priced with a couple of very drinkable house wines from southern France at £14.50 called Lagarde (also available by the glass), going all the way up to well known names from Bordeaux like Chateau Talbot and Chateau D’Issan if you’re feeling particularly rich. I went for something a little less extravagant, but still utterly beguiling.

Chorey Les Beaune, Domaine Maillard 2010, Burgundy, France – £36.50

Made from the temperamental and difficult Pinot Noir grape, this exhibits all the typical flavours and characteristics a decent Pinot should. The nose plays with you, notes of cherry and raspberry a touch of woodsmoke, and I was certain that for a few seconds that I caught a whiff of coriander. Although it could have been some food…. It went on the tasting note anyway. This is a wine that does the great Burgundian trick of being flavoursome, but almost weightless on the palate. It matched the lamb we had perfectly with a vibrant acidity helping to cut through the rich gravy, but would also be a great match for duck, Burgundian sausage, or simply to open and drink on its own!

The reason that this is a prime example for my argument, is that this is a wine I would have been happy to pay £36.50 for in a retail environment let alone a restaurant, but at this price point, this happens fairly regularly. At house level, this happens once in a blue moon! Buy closer to the top of the list people. I dare ya!

As some of you may know, I work for a South African vineyard called Vondeling so over the next six weeks I will be in South Africa writing a little blog explaining what life on a vineyard is actually like (we don’t just sit around all day drinking…) In fact as I write this column (Monday the 11th of Feb) I am sitting in Terminal 4 waiting for my flight to Paris and then onto sunny Cape Town! If you have any questions about the winemaking process we go through, please don’t hesitate to drop an email question to Emily or me and I will be happy to help!

Find Cote on the Bristol Bites Directory…

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