Home   Food and Drink   Article

The Wine List: Best summery bottles for sharing

“Wine is for sharing, wine is for conviviality, wine is for enjoyment. . .” Hamish Wakes-Miller, manager of Cambridge’s Majestic store, shares his summer holiday drinks list

'Wine is for conviviality' says Hamish Wakes-Miller (57750898)
'Wine is for conviviality' says Hamish Wakes-Miller (57750898)

During the enclosed days, weeks and months of the pandemic, we had nothing to escape the ghastly day-to-day reality apart from memories of past holidays and dreams of adventures to come.

Everyone was affected in some way. Children missed early years sociability, teenagers missed important get-togethers and relationships as well as having exam turmoil, whilst students missed out on freshers’ weeks and wider university relationship development.

My business was turned upside down and it was time to reassess, replan and refocus - as well as to try to keep food on the table! So now, as we emerge and have a lockdown-free summer holiday ahead, we should celebrate.

What is your favourite holiday destination? And what does ‘holiday’ mean to you? For some people the holiday and excitement start with the packing, the airport and travel experience, as much as the final destination.

However, having recently travelled through several airports, my sheeny gloss soon softened as I joined yet another queue of tourists all doing the Stansted shuffle as they moved their bag 30 centimetres further forward.

And why is that ridiculous snake system in place before passport control when there might not be anyone else around? And why does the pilot at Gatwick park his plane so far away from the terminal? So many inane, unanswerable questions, but ultimately I embrace the fact that we can again travel so cheaply and easily around Europe - so thank you Ryanair and Squeasyjet.

Holidays for me are audible, visual and emotive. The cacophony of cicadas that greets us in the south of France every summer, the beauty of the vineyards and beaches, and the fantastic friends

and interesting characters create the perfect holiday.

A simple lunch can be enhanced with family, good friends, a beautiful view and a bottle of wine. The best memories for tasting wines are built around the emotions of a sense of place. I have tasted Petrus, Lafite Rothschild, Romanee Conti, Yquem and many more wines and analysed/reviewed them. I have visited the Chateaux and trod the earth to understand them. But wine is for sharing, wine is for conviviality, wine is for enjoyment and relaxation.

So, when I do get down to my house in the Minervois in August and have shaken off the haze and smell of travel, what will I be drinking? As it is remarkably hot, we will probably be bathing in local rosé wines. Easy-drinking light Syrah or Cinsault - fresh, reviving wines.

If we want a white with good acidity and zest, we will look for Picpoul de Pinet wines. These are especially good with a plate of oysters and a view of the Med. I will also be exploring some of the incredible-value red wines made by friends in the hills near Minerve and around St Chinian. Deep, ripe, spicy, Syrah-based wines blended with Grenache.

Whatever you’re drinking, let’s finally enjoy a proper holiday and come back refreshed, re-energized and ready to face the travails of the world and the exciting economic and political future! Carpe diem.

Hamish’s Wines of the Month

Gérard Bertrand ‘Côte des Roses’ Rosé 2020/21, Languedoc, £9.99 as part of the Majestic mixed six

This is exactly what I like in a rosé from the Languedoc. Stylish, elegant, fresh style with subtle summer fruit character. Too easy to drink.

Villemarin Picpoul de Pinet 2020/21, France, £8.99 as part of the Majestic mixed six

Mouth-wateringly crisp and refreshing, this Picpoul is a real customer favourite – and we can see why. It’s incredibly zesty and lemony. If you love crisp whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, then this is a must-try. It’s great with seafood, but it’s also especially good with rich cheese.

Parcel Series Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Organic 2017, £14.99 as part of the Majestic mixed six

Parcel Series is for when top-shelf wineries need to sell their wines quickly and discreetly. We get them at big discounts and pass this straight to you. The only catch? We can’t tell you who makes

them. What we can tell you is this wine comes from a top estate known for producing rich, complex wines in Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Full of fresh red and black fruits with supple tannins and a long finish, enjoy it alongside grilled meats or vegetable skewers.

Hamish manages the Majestic Wine store in Cambridge. Majestic Wine also has stores in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Bishop’s Stortford.

Read more

More by this author