*** WINE LOVERS! Read Wiggia's expert selection for Christmas 2020 *** (click here)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Electoral misdemeanours - the narrative not yet quashed

 In The Conservative Woman today, Daniel Miller argues that it is still too early for President Trump to formally concede defeat (a Congresswoman was obliged to write to the GSA some days ago to point out that Biden is not yet 'President-elect' https://www.politicalite.com/usa/exclusive-us-congress-officially-tells-biden-campaign-hes-not-president-elect/, and the latest MSM reports about first steps preparing for a transfer of power are still wrong in implying that Trump has quit or abandoned his allegation of cheating); Miller sketches some of the concerns about the conduct of the voting and counting:
https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/for-the-sake-of-america-trump-must-not-concede/

We await convincing proof of malpractice, but there is indirect evidence that may ring little alarm bells. 'Zman' outlines some of the odd features of the results-as-reported:
https://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=21907

James Howard Kunstler echoes the implausibility of JB's alleged landslide and points out that Biden, if he wins, faces settled Republican opposition, just as Trump had four years of 'he's not MY President!'
https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/talkin-turkey/

This election is reminiscent in some ways of Tony Blair's path to the British premiership in 1997: every fault of the incumbent government, every minor scandal, was damning proof of their complete unfitness to rule, while most of the media saw it as their duty to boost New Labour, the moral new broom that was going to sweep clean.

'Marry in haste, repent at leisure.'

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A rationale for lying

 Scott Adams often focuses on persuasion techniques. He understood back in 2016 how crucial it was for Trump (and not only Trump) to steer what the news media and hence the public feel is important; to seize control over the news agenda.

A point Adams made in this podcast a couple of days ago is interesting: it's better (for a persuader) to say something that cannot be completely true in order to fix the audience's attention, rather than make a nuanced point that will be quickly passed over. 

https://www.scottadamssays.com/2020/11/22/episode-1195-scott-adams-i-tell-you-who-is-being-most-gullible-show-you-some-nuclear-persuasion-and-predict/

In this case it's a tweet by someone who says of nuclear waste that it has never hurt anyone 'and never will.' Scott observes that it's obvious no-one can be sure of the latter assertion but by that token it gets the brain working on just how far it may be true, so the reader's wandering eye has been arrested. Adams notes that our smartphones etc are shortening our attention spans, so tricks like this are needed to shepherd our wayward thoughts.

We are in a post-truth era.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

SATURDAY ESSAY: Are we seeing the decline of Western Civilisation? by Wiggia


This tumultuous year has thrown into relief so many items that we should all worry about yet no one appears to see the bigger picture.

In all the major western countries there is a divided population, populism has raised its ugly head as far the establishment is concerned and they can’t put the genie back in the bottle where they would like it to stay.

The seeds of discontent go back a long way but until recently the eruptions were contained or just fizzled out and we went back to the acceptance of what we had was what we would put up with. Trying to pin down the what that caused this upsurge in populism is not easy; a Pandora's Box has been opened and we are none the wiser,

As far as Britain is concerned you could go back to Blair and the open borders and immigration he instigated on a scale never seen before. It has never been checked despite assurances it would be. Various reasons have been put up for that,  none of which stand the test of time. Certain countries have managed to halt or severely restrict immigration, Trump even managed to stem some of the surge from the south that the USA has had for years, so you have to ask why not here and in Europe generally. The answer we now know: it was never intended to halt immigration.

Only now have certain countries like France begun to admit that a certain group are getting beyond control and the numbers are reaching the tipping point when they will be too big to say no to; the way forward if nothing is done will bring the nation down in the long run.

The frustration of the populace is compounded by the words and actions of those in power. Merkel says ‘multiculturalism has failed’ and then welcomes in over a million migrants; our own government says we will cut immigration to the tens of thousands and does nothing; and so on around Europe. Only the likes of Poland and Hungary go against the tide and are then put on the naughty step for daring to go against an EU edict and are inevitably called ‘racist’.

What really put the divide in the public domain was the double header of Brexit and Trump. For the progressive left it was as though Satan himself had been elected, and with Brexit, the little people should not be allowed to have that much of a say in things. There was a very, very good piece on the front page of the Times on the 5th of November by the Washington correspondent describing the election over there. I can only reprint a couple of paragraphs but you will get the drift. Amazingly there was another piece which echoed some of the sentiment on the inside pages the same day.

Gerard Baker said this….

“The Democrats failed to retake the Senate as they assumed they would, and they actually lost seats in the House of Representatives as the great American people in their wisdom, declined to anoint one party to seize control of the government. Even if Biden wins the White House almost nothing will get done without the consent of Mitch McConnell’s Senate Republicans.”

This next bit relates to us with Brexit……

“The American people have spent the last four years being told by their elites (and the rest of the world)  that they have committed something close to a historic crime by voting for Donald Trump.

"That they needed to repudiate the man and expiate their sin and never again to think outside the lines laid down for them.”

There is a lot more in a similar vein. What we have seen is a political elite aligned to the centre left with virtually nothing outside of that narrow band to vote for. The Brexit vote was a chance for the disenfranchised to vote for something without the pull of the big parties; though the latter tried their best to intimidate and cajole for us to remain in the EU amazingly it didn’t work, so despite pledges to respect the vote they all embarked along with a complicit media and big business on an attempt to overturn the vote by other means. The little man has spoken but we will ensure he does not have his way, oh no siree.

So over four years were wasted at great cost in a one way agenda to remain in the Union. Has it all failed, will we leave on the first of January? Well, there's not long to find out, and also find out what we have sacrificed to attain freedom, if freedom it is.

https://quillette.com/2018/08/03/britains-populist-revolt/

Trump did exactly the same. The faces of the pundits, news media and commentators world wide showed just how far the march through the institutions had gone: no one apart from those that voted for him wanted him in power and from day one spurious efforts to impeach were put in progress. None of this on either side of the pond was anything to do with the country's welfare or the people, it was about retaining power, power that the same elites believed should be theirs alone. ;rom day one the disdain for Trump was obvious, he wasn’t even allowed the courtesy of all previous Presidents of being called Mr President, the battle lines were drawn.

This has nothing to do with how good or not Trump is or has been. As here, there has not been much to beat for a long time in the competence and achievement stakes, it is simply a stance-taking, left or right, with the right becoming ever more a mirage - we have forgotten what real Conservatives looked like - so to a certain extent it makes no difference who you vote for: the people may have become polarised but the parties all share the same ground.

Satire is good, no politician should get a free ride, but this was just plain nasty, another unheard of leftie comedienne who is not funny, there seems to be an endless stream of them, mainly congratulating themselves on like-minded panel programs.

Attempts here and abroad to break the monopoly of the ‘heritage’ parties have all met with either a strong rebuff or worse. Anything that could be called vaguely to the right is labelled racist by opponents and the press; despite the word being so overused to be baseless it sticks so 'right wing, Nazi, Hitler' are trotted out even when Trump became President and before he actually went to work.

Yet the Democrats/Labour have nothing to offer but handouts, identity politics, and suppression of debate, the working class to be despised and ignored, and the Conservatives having become suited socialists also give away hard-earned taxes with a relish never before seen.

The level to which modern politics has sunk, cannot completely verify this tweet, but it was deleted post haste and never denied as one would expect.

In France the Front National has been up against the same wall for years, even a sanitised front that garnered more votes than was comfortable for the incumbents was thwarted by all the major players combining in the last round ensuring the Front had no power. In Germany, in Holland and elsewhere the same has happened; here Nigel Farage should have won Thanet, the Conservatives not only threw the kitchen sink in to stop him with unprecedented advertising and effort but they illegally overspent which in a democracy should have meant disqualification of the ‘winner’ but nothing happened - an investigation went on and on and disappeared down the memory hole (oh, and whatever was done about the three missing ballot boxes? Same as with the overspending: nothing.)

This is manifestly corrupt but with a compliant MSN and seemingly impotent legislating bodies or worse it is nigh impossible to break the cabal in power or even the ones out of power, so we end up with the Catch-22 situation: whichever way we turn we get the same result.

Along with that result is a political class that is not fit for purpose, placemen and women appointed by their peers on quotas and nepotism and graft. Is anyone ever appointed these days on their record in business or genuine merit. All come from the political university output of political BSc graduates who have never had a job in the outside world. 

The infiltration of the institutions has been going on for years. When you see front line teachers believing young junior school children should be be informed about trans gender issues you have a problem, and the same goes for a myriad of issues like the latest from Scotland (and being mooted to become law here) that dinner table conversations can be charged as hate crimes. The attempts to erase our history by left wing activists continues unabated, and we have a police force that does more than appear to have taken a stand with the same people; how else do you account for the two different approaches to demonstrations? Muslims are escorted to the French embassy to make their point, ER are allowed in full view of the same police to put a boat in Piccadilly Circus causing mayhem and are guarded by the same force and ditto with a demo in Cambridge,  no attempt is made to stop various statues being defaced or toppled,  but several peaceful anti-lockdown demos have the full riot squad turned out and used on them. This can only come from the top but who gives these orders? As with everything else we are fobbed off, the truth does not emerge.

After the public were refused entry to Whitehall by large numbers of police on Remembrance Sunday, ER were allowed to deface the Cenotaph for their political ends and the police just looked on!

BLM are a political Marxist operation wanting to shut down the capitalist West, yet everyone jumps on board with no scrutiny and even throws money their way. Even when the truth of that one came out they still would not change their tune and still they back them, why? Is it like the Coronavirus, where mistakes have been made and no one wants to be seen as having been a touch stupid, so bugger the country carry on and shut everything down again? 

Trump blames China for the flu and everyone else blames Trump, yet this virus, the Spanish flu and Sars all came from China, they do have a record so why the denial by Western countries and the media?

Politics has never been ‘clean’ but we had a press and media that for many years kept things in check. Not any more: the delight which they have shown in jumping the shark over the defeat of Trump, if that is the final outcome, is nothing short of a disgrace whatever individuals think of him, but we have got used to the bias shown by news outlets over time, yet it still grates when their obvious pleasure at a result is shown now in such an unbridled fashion.

If Brexit fails to deliver what 17.4 million voted for expect the same gloating from the same media and everyone else who said the little people were thick and uninformed.

Those commentators that go against the narrative are in very small numbers, hence the surprise at the Times front page.

And still they come up with pieces like this in the feminazis wet dream newspaper the Guardian, here eulogising over Comrade Kamala even before the caretaker President has taken office…

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/08/the-meaning-of-kamala-harris-the-woman-who-will-break-new-ground-as-vice-president

A woman who made it to the top from when under Willie Brown, literally, and has never looked back.

In fairness you could do the same investigation into most Western politicians today. Hardly any come out smelling of roses but you get what you vote for and these days it often comes down to the least bad option. What a way to run countries! The integrity that politicians and commentators need is no longer there and has gone missing for several decades.

The absurdity of politics has a good example (h/t to JD): one of Biden’s senior advisors has suggested 75 is long enough to live - that puts Joe on the spot, does he take one for the country or as usual it will not apply to the elites?

https://unherd.com/thepost/joe-bidens-coronavirus-advisor-thinks-life-should-end-at-75/

One thing I do know, I didn’t vote in the last election and will not again unless a viable (unlikely) alternative appears. As George Carlin said  “The planet is fine. The people are f*cked.”

Sometimes we delude ourselves that we are still a nation with world wide clout. In reality we arem just another Western country that thinks it is a big player on the world stage. One hundred years ago we were the biggest of all on that same stage, but two world wars have impoverished us; our once-mighty navy now can’t even patrol our own coastline.

A nation that led the world with nuclear power now has to have the Chinese build power stations for us. It seems that everything that made this country great has gone, yet we survive but in a different way. Evolving is not a problem, the problem is evolving alongside other nations: doing exactly the same thing is not a recipe for long term success.

France is going down even faster than us, Germany is struggling with its power house manufacturing base tackling ever rising energy costs, Italy has bumbled on in its own sweet way for longer than anyone can remember etc etc. But the virus has lit a match under all of them: debt mountains are still growing, zero or negative interest rates are used to help governments borrow but undermine the thrifty who are no longer important, and unemployment has only just started to rise; the old and the sick are being thrown under the bus and no one knows why or pretends not to know.

And still illegal immigrants pile in everywhere adding to the welfare costs of nations that are becoming (or have become) strapped for cash, and also constantly swelling the numbers that are a terrorist threat, and increasingly impossible to monitor.

The country is making catastrophic decisions with ever-dwindling capital reserves: the following of the climate change cult in some strange belief it will actually benefit us is merely a distraction to the woes set in progress by the various governments all going down this route. Huge sums are being spent on projects that simply don’t stack up. When the lights start going out who will take the blame? No one now in government, you may be sure.

France with 75% of its energy needs supplied by nuclear is closing one nuclear plant and no one has been given a clear explanation as to why, it alone supplies reliably more power than all of France’s solar panels combined which gives as good an example as any as to why wind and solar can only ever be supplementary never the base of supply, yet again all are going down this route to stop start energy supply. The cost is staggering, the outcome unknown.

https://www.sustainability-times.com/expert/a-safe-and-profitable-nuclear-plant-is-closing-in-france-why/

How much longer can the West limp on, the elites blindfolded or following agendas of their own, not caring but almost encouraging this state of affairs. Your guess is as good as mine, but it cannot go on this way indefinitely, the elastic will break.

It is interesting reading how the fall of the Roman Empire came about, little changes:

  • Invasions by Barbarian tribe = no difficulty seeing the parallel there.
  • Economic problems, reliant on slave labour = ditto
  • The rise of the Eastern Empire = China
  • Overexpansion = as the EU would have it.
  • Government corruption and political instability = all around us.
  • Mass migration = yes
  • Weakening of the military = it has certainly been weakened
  • Severe Financial crisis and overspending = surely not

The livelihood of the Roman people was reduced and with that the population started to decline. In this situation, the only thing that the Roman Empire did was to increase taxes and then to offset the decline in population to bring in labour from abroad - the commonalities are obvious.

These reasons were taken from several pieces on why the Roman Empire fell. All have a parallel with the West today. I won't be around in fifty years but I would wager it will be a very different West from today and not for the better. Overly pessimistic? I wouldn’t bet on it.

Friday, November 20, 2020

FRIDAY MUSIC: Dani Klein, by JD

According to the web site "Famous Belgians" http://www.famousbelgians.net/ this is their list of the ten most famous Belgians:

1. Eddy Merckx; 2. Adolphe Sax; 3. Herge (George Remi); 4. Audrey Hepburn; 5. Plastic Bertrand (really?); 6. Peter Paul Rubens; 7. Rene Magritte; 8. Georges Lemaitre; 9. Albert Claude; 10. Leo Baekeland. Stretching a point there with Audrey Hepburn and Belgium didn't exist when Rubens was born.

I would like to add another name to the list; Dani Klein. She is not famous but she ought to be. She was the singer of a very popular music group called Vaya Con Dios, one of the most successful Belgian music acts ever, having sold more than 10 million albums and more than 3 million singles. They were active from 1986 until 2014 when they disbanded, Klein thereafter continuing with a solo career.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaya_Con_Dios_(band)









Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Martin Armstrong and the Great Reset

 I have always found Martin Armstrong's comments interesting, especially his analogies with classical Rome, but his all-knowing computer Socrates reminds me of Joanna Southcott's mysterious box.
https://londonist.com/2016/10/in-search-of-joanna-southcott-s-box

Having said that, is it not strange that in this surreal period when we have immediately succumbed to our leaders' demands for complete control, the innocent-eyed Canadian PM Justin Trudeau should start to refer enthusiastically to the Great Reset that until recently was a hobby-horse subject for conspiracy theorists?

https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/lilley-trudeau-has-eyes-set-on-a-great-reset-for-canada

https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/international-news/politics/what-if-biden-wins/

https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/international-news/politics/just-hold-on/

Paul Joseph Watson interviews James Delingpole on The Great Reset:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugRnjpXEwTo&feature=youtu.be

The pieces are being set strategically on the chessboard:

'Triple crown' UK civil servant Mark Sedwill headed for NATO?

Hillary for the United Nations?

Monday, November 16, 2020

Nothing is moron-proof

1950s Australia: there was a 

'publicity stunt with a strong-man performer, Wilfred Briton, who was actually Polish. I had seen this immensely broad-chested, chunky little pocket-sized Hercules at the Kingston Empire. His feats of strength were trult amazing. When Mr Briton came to Australia, [the impresario] decide that he needed some special public feat of strength from Mr Briton to bring people into the theatre. He arranged for him to pull a double-decker Melbourne bus up Elizabeth Street with his teeth.

'The press turned up in force, and Wilfred duly made the attempt, which he was confident he could perform, even though the bus was to be pulled uphill.. The powerful muscles of his short, thick neck stood out like twisted steel cables as, to his surprise, he had to strain himself to the limit to move the big bus. However, by nearly killing himself, he did succeed in towing the double-decker a few feet up Elizabeth Street before he had to give up, with most of his teeth loosened by the effort. It was only then that the driver admitted laconically, 'I didn't trust yer, mate, on the hill, so I had me brakes on.' '

From Michael Bentine's autobiography 'The Reluctant Jester', p. 239

Sunday, November 15, 2020

WIGGIA'S WINES: Christmas 2020 Selection

Lockdown 2 takes us into Advent, so why not browse and pre-order now? Wiggia offers his annual survey and recommendations:


In many ways such a strange, to put it mildly, year has made a Christmas list for supermarket and independent wine retailers at a similar level easier than in the past but for the wrong reasons.

The impact of the virus on retail trading has meant that little has changed on the shelves of the ‘big players’ with probably the exception of Majestic whose new management are changing their lists as we speak.

With M&S cutting back their range it means that there is not quite the choice as in previous years and even the newcomers Lidl and Aldi have not expanded their ranges but consolidated.

REDS

If there is one stand out supermarket red wine this year it is the Chilean giant Concho y Toro’s subsidiary Cono Sur’s organic Pinot Noir available at Sainsbury’s for £9.50 and less when on offer, Cono Sur has been turned over to producing Pinot Noir wines only and this latest addition is in my opinion better than their previous flagship (supermarket) 20 Barrels.

It was said that good PN was impossible to make cheaply; wrong, they are getting there, which must be worrying for the French who can at the moment almost charge what they like for sometimes indifferent red Burgundy.

But we will start with Champagne/sparkling wines, not an area I indulge in that much so I am fussy as to what I buy as the price often exceeds expectations.

The best supermarket own label Champagne for me was Waitrose  Blanc de Noirs Brut NV: smooth, nice fruit, small bubbles and good value at £23.99. There is a whole raft of English sparklers now, all good, just choose your price band and select almost anything from Ridgeview, Hush Heath, Hattingley Valley Rose, Gusborne Blanc de Blanc, Nyetimber classic cuvee, to be honest Waitrose when it comes to English sparklers have so much more than anyone else there is little point in going elsewhere. For a Prosecco Ocado’s Abbazia Fiorino prosecco @ £9.99 was easily the best in that class; there is a bit of a Prosecco glut and many are really not that good though the price might be.

And again for the second year Bird in Hand sparkling Pinot Noir, again at Waitrose @£13.99 but often on offer.

In the red corner apart from the star above, there are other Pinot Noirs coming on stream that deserve attention without breaking the bank as so much Burgundy tries to do.

Germany is surprisingly the third biggest grower of PN but has suffered from thin wines in those northern climes. All has changed with the new climate now being enjoyed and some cracking Spatburgunders PN are arriving here, most are with wine merchants so the list is smaller for the market I am describing but Walt Pinot Noir from Booths at £10.50 is a steal; Waitrose have a decent cheap Romanian PN Sorcova at an amazing £7.79 - don’t be put off by the country of origin, those eastern European states are beginning to produce ever more decent bargain basement wines.

I find it difficult to suggest very much from Tesco these days as they have gone all big brand and own label, but in fairness Tesco's own label Finest Otago PN from NZ £13.00 is very decent and not many of the cheaper NZ PNs are that good a value, you have to spend to get what they are capable of providing.

Majestic do a very good PN from Oregon in the states, Erath 2017 at £19.99 plus an Australian Stonier 2017 from the cool climate Mornington Peninsula.

Bordeaux as usual always finds a place at the Christmas table and for good reason: Cabernet Sauvignon still makes probably the best all round wine for having with food and Christmas is all about good nosh.

Luckily it is not all in the Chateau Lafite price band, there are thousands of providers in Bordeaux and across the globe of this grape variety, the problem is that few of the worthwhile ones reach supermarkets.

Majestic has a few: Ch Caronne-ste Gemme from a good vintage 2015 at £14.99 is a good bet, Ch Bertrand-Braneyre from another good vintage 2009 at £15.99 is a sound buy, and another good cheapy from the very good 2016 vintage at £10.99 La Fleur Godard.

Lidl have a generic St Emilion Grand Cru at £10.99 which is well worth a punt, but for a better selection if you want to stay with Bordeaux you have to go to independents or The Wine Society, well worth joining if you drink a fair amount of wine as they have much bigger and better ranges in this sector.

I am not going to give a never ending list simply because it becomes tedious, this is a representative selection in all the categories that I have sampled or drunk.

There are some very good buys in the Spanish wines, Rioja we all know and I could a dozen easily that would fit the bill but just three here in different price brackets: Contino Reserva at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s at £25.00 is reliable top quality Rioja, Majestic have an even better wine in my opinion in Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva ‘seleccion especiale’ 2010 La Rioja Alta only made in good years this at £24.99 is not cheap but worth every penny; Beronia is a very reliable winery owned by Gonzalez Byass of sherry fame and their reserva at £15. 00 won't let you down. Outside of Rioja there is a very nice refreshing and cheap Monastrell Palacio £7.99 at Waitrose and from Catalonia Roqueta Lafou El Sender Terra Alta £11.99 is a blend of mainly Garnacha/Grenache and a late find.

Australia is frustrating, all the supermarkets stock virtually the same big brand names, there is so much more from that country and it is a shame it is dominated by these well known names: some are good in their own right but more variety is badly needed, if you see McGuigan short list wines they are worth winkling out and are often on offer and grey label Wolf Blass as well, Waitrose have a cracker Bird in Hand wineries Shiraz £13.99.

South America supplies Malbec from Argentina in large quantities and many different wineries, and is now broadening the styles it produces away from the rather heavy earlier versions, the Santa Julia Malbec/Cabernet Franc blend at around £8.50 is still a good buy and available widely, Catena make many Malbecs yet their intro Malbec 13.49 is ultra reliable and often on offer, any of the Vinalba Malbecs are worth buying, again reliable and widely available and often on offer.

Rhone wines are now popular but again most supermarkets have either a range that doesn’t do justice to the region or they all have the same brands, Guigal’s Cotes de Rhone has long been a go to for the region around 12.50 , Waitrose have Chateau Maris Les Planels from the Languedoc region at 17.99, a big wine, spicy and a good substitute for the Rhone.

Italy is another country that has not been sending its better wines here at supermarket level, though a few shine through, Barolo is not a wine that comes cheap and if it does you know it, yet this bucks the trend, Lidl have a Barolo DOCG that is more than drinkable 11.99, normally even £30-40 bottles can be very disappointing.

At Waitrose there is a Sicilian ‘Le Sabbie dell’Etna rosso a nice deep coloured wine from an area that is increasingly being seen, worthwhile buy at 12.99, they also sell a decent Chianti, Piccini Valiano 6.38 Gran Selezione 19.99, also from Sicily is Nero Oro Riserva 2017 at Majestic another big and bold wine and £9.99 makes it good value.

WHITES

Strangely a bit easier though not so many, at least there are some with quality at decent prices generally available.

There are now thanks to NZ turning the whole country it seems to growing Sauvignon Blanc hundreds to choose from, though not all come from there.

Majestic have a cracking Sancerre ‘Sur le Fort 2018 16.99, remember the prices at Majestic rely on you to buy six bottles mixed or otherwise.

Waitrose have several goodies but Greystone SB 15.99 just edged it on the ones I have tried.

Chardonnay has two styles now, the new leaner more dry in style and the older buttery ones, to me many of the newer style are a step too far but not all.

For lovers of white Bordeaux the Co Op are selling Clos Floridene Graves Blanc for 19 pounds.

A rare treat from the Napa Valley in the United States is this Stags Leap ‘Hands of Time’ Chardonnay, more of the new school drier version but very good at 19.99 at Majestic,  also from Majestic a stalwart Saint Clair Pioneer Block Chardonnay 2017 15.99 and finally from Waitrose, Audrey Wilkinson Winemakers Selection Chardonnay 14.99 and great value for the quality.

Majestic in their revamp have a lot of fair priced French Burgundies and other Chardonnays but they are too new for me to have sampled.

Other grapes abound but few are worth the effort or at least those finding their way to the supermarket shelves, of the rest these stood out for me.

Among all the dross under the Pinot Grigio label I found a decent one, at Waitrose, Forte Alto PG Vignetti Delle Dolomiti Trentino 9.79, Masseria Pietrosa Verdeca from Morrisons suggested last year still stands up as good rarer grape wine,  from Waitrose a Rondolino Vernaccia  di San Gimignano by Teruzzi & Puthod is a fair example of the grape a slight natural spritz gives it an edge.

A bargain Gavi DOCG at 6.69 from Lidl was as good as many higher priced ones though I have never unlike others got very excited about the grape.

Alberino from Spain has made it into the top trendy whites to buy, for me it is to near to SB but the quality is now very good so if you like SB this is a slight change in style. Of the few tasted Majestic’s own label Definition Alberino 2019 Rias Baixas is one of the few own labels I would recommend a good example of the grape at 9.99, they also have a Winemakers Series Godello at the same price which is worth trying.

If you are looking for a Riesling then you have a problem, it is still not popular enough for the big players to stock anything worthwhile, you still have to go to specialist merchants to find the real thing, with one exception: Majestic have an Aussie Riesling that is worth your attention, Petaluma ‘Hanlin Hill’ 2016 from the Clare Valley where the best of Australian Rieslings come from, not cheap at 22.99 but worth it.

M&S have a nice Classics Pinot Gris from the very good co operative Cave de Turckheim at a tenner, another grape that is difficult to find decent examples of in supermarkets, rich slightly oily taste which is typical.

ROSE / PINK

Rosé or pink wines sales have gone through the roof in the last couple of years. I never could see the point of them but I have been forced to change my mind and we are long past the likes of Mateus Rosé, good versions abound away from the ‘home’ of Rosé Provence, from that ‘home’ Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Cotes de Provence Rosé at 8.75 is a very good buy,  Majestic have an amazing value Argentinian Alamos Rosé 6.99, they also have Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé from Italy  12.99, a lighter style from England is Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé at Waitrose for 13,99; all are ones I have tried and recommend, there are now dozens more to choose from and one thing strikes you straight away about the Rosé on offer - that is the amazingly high standard across the board; why this should be against red and white wines I don’t know other than the fact it is made out of a smaller range of grape varieties but even that is changing.

FORTIFIED WINES

Fortified wines in truth do not vary in what is on the shelves very much year to year, only with port the vintages change yet that is really only at the higher price points, so this year for what the supermarkets offer it is not a lot different to last year, taking into consideration that I have put a ceiling on the price of all wines on here at £25 as above the range in those same supermarkets apart from Waitrose and also Majestic is very limited anyway.

The  best Fino sherries include two own label and in the case of Morrisons Fino the cheapest available at 4.85, only the collapse in the bulk sherry market makes this price possible, take advantage while you can, and Waitrose blue label Fino at 7.65 is still a good buy; the truth is for sherry only Waitrose of the big sellers have a decent range apart from that one bottle from Morrisons, if you want decent sherry and don’t buy from independents you might as well get it all from Wairose so all the following come from that source.

For Manzanilla their own blue label at 7.65 is reliable, Solear from Barbadillo 10.99, Hidalgo’s La Gitana a perennial favourite 11.99,  Alegria in half bottles at 5.49 is very aromatic.

A further Fino: Gonzales Byass Delicado Fino 14.49.

Oloroso and Amontillado sherries, from Lustau a treat with Oloroso Almacenista Pata de Gallina 17.99, Gonzales Byass On the QT Edition Barrel 1E 51 Amontillado 19.99 expensive but worth it, after all it is Christmas, their Blueprint Amontillado 7.65 is also decent.

Majestic are just starting to stock some sherries again and Pedro’s Almacenista Selection Amontillado 11.99 is another I would buy.

Port is still a bargain considering the quality of the product. For tawny any of those by Graham at 10/20/30 years are great buys, the 30 year old one is above my ceiling but if you want to push the boat out why not. Graham's Malvedos Vintage port at £28 is also over LIMIT but usually on offer at less on the run up to Christmas so look out for it, all those are generally available, Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port a nice rich flavoured port 17.99 from Waitrose. I have never purchased wine from Amazon but I know someone who does occasionally and the white port he purchased from there, by Ferriera Don Antonia Reserve White at 22.70 was an exotic indulgence.

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What is obvious is exactly what I predicted years ago has happened: the big supermarkets having cornered the market in wine sales have changed course and instead of competing with one another with ever changing ranges as they used to, they now are applying the typical supermarket buying power and we have seen a uniform big-brands and own-labels takeover of the shelves. Only Waitrose and Booths in the North stand out as having wine lists worth bothering with now. The slide started when Sainsbury’s and then Tesco dumped their very good online wine direct outlets and it has been downhill ever since. 

The upside is online sales: more and more of the independents are putting together very good wine lists for online sales; should I live that long, next year I will include some including the Wine Society, as it has been not a joyful task this year ferreting out decent wines from the big players; Tesco more than any others has really stuck two fingers up at the customers it attracted when they had a very good range to buy, but it was predicted.

Early, but a merry Christmas to all!