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des cretes 2009You know you pay a premium. Each of London's top department stores have excellent wine departments where the ambiance, the quality and the expertise warrant spending that little extra, even if only for a 'special occasion' wine. Selfridge's, Harvey Nics, Fortnum and Mason, Harrods - so seldom mentioned in wine columns. Which foodie cannot be seduced by the decadence of the Harrods food hall or wine lover by the Wine Shop?

Last November The Wine Shop at Harrods received a revamp. Now occupying 7000 square feet of retail space with shelving offering a range of 3,000 wines, champagnes and spirits. One can indeed 'nip into' Harrods to pick up a £2500 bottle of Taylors Port but there is much more to entice.

The departments revamp turns the focus onto "lifestyle and education" - a dedicated tasting room, echoing a traditional wine cellar, is to be the venue for a series of consumer tastings (Tuesday the 15th of February sees an exciting sounding tasting of Rhone blends exclusively from outside France. The 22nd March session, also a Tuesday, has a bio-dynamic wines tasting. Tickets for both cost £30 running from 7pm-9pm). There is also a tasting bar with charcuterie and cheeses from the famed food halls matched with a varying range of 18 wines.

While Harrods might conjure impressions of tradition, of old-style retailing, dusty bottles of old Clarets or rare Burgundies (did someone mention stuffy? intimidating?) there is actually a varied and eclectic wine offering. There are wines from Slovenia and Japan for example, in addition to those cult (read expensive) wines from across the globe. These, incidentally are housed in a temperature-controlled, glass-walled, walk-through vault. Good for a wine-nerd to salivate over, if a little out of many a person's budget.

Realistic purchases abound though. They have special offers too. Until next Monday you can pick up a bottle of Domaine Cazes Notre Dames Des Anges 2008 with five pounds knocked off the price (£24.50 down from £29.95), the same producers amazing Cuveé Aimé 1978 Rivesaltes is at £115 down from £140. More affordable is the Domaine des Crêtes Marsanne Roussanne 2009 (down to £6.95 from £8.75).

Domaine Cazes is the largest French bio-dynamic wine estate having moved to organic and bio-dynamic viticulture back in 1997; Emmanuel Cazes being the fourth generation of his family to oversee production as wine maker.

The Cazes Notre Dames Des Anges 2008 [Adegga / Snooth] is a fantastic wine. The blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre bursts out of the glass offering black fruits laced with spice. The palate is rounded, generously flavoured (those deep black fruits again with the addition of vanilla, a savoury edge and currants plus an inky burst on the finish) nicely smooth and softly tannic. 14% alcohol. Calls for robust meaty stews, venison, a chunk of cheddar or a decent steak pie.

Domaine des Crêtes is another family owned estate with 150 hectares of vines surrounding a 12th century Minerviois château. This white, Domaine des Cretes Vin de Pays d'Oc 2008, [Adegga / Snooth] a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne , is a full, rounded little number. A richness initially with citrus/lemon flavours, tempered by a nice slew of acidity and a herb-dominated finish. A little barrel-fermentation adds an interesting complexity. Not the most complex or textural wine but an absolute blast with a roast chicken! 14% alcohol.

notre dame angers 2008

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