The Drop | Spring 2022

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Italian treasures Exclusive gems from Garden of Italy Spring 2022

Mother's Day

Treat Mum to something she'll adore

FREE delivery on orders over £40

Sau gn-gone Lifting the lid on the wine shortage

Easter lunch Perfect Rioja pairings

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Welcome My pick of the issue is Montaia Pignoletto (page 8). It's a very lightly sparkling (frizzante) white made from the indigenous Pignoletto grape. The wine is bright and spritzy with flavours of citrus and red apples – and makes a superb aperitif to enjoy alfresco as the weather improves.

Dan Farrell-Wright Director

W

elcome to our spring issue. I'm especially delighted to say hello to the new customers who've joined us after trying our wines for the first time at Christmas. If you're new to sourcing wines from Wickhams, let me share a few reasons why buying wine from us is a great experience. Firstly, we focus on sourcing estate-bottled wines: high-quality, carefully crafted wines, bottled at the vineyard in which the grapes are grown.

Then there's the feelgood factor that comes from our support of English vineyards, and the way we do our utmost to protect the environment by using planet-friendly packaging. We also pride ourselves on making our exciting range of wines easily available to you via our website. However, if you'd prefer to talk to one of the team, we're always available to chat and offer recommendations.

guarantee: you can return any wine you're not delighted by. As a result, we've just received a Gold Trusted Service Award 2022 from Feefo. And, to make your winebuying experience even sweeter, we also provide free delivery on orders over £40, plus a copy of the drop each season. Now that's worth raising a glass to. Cheers!

We're so confident you'll enjoy the wines you buy from us that we have a 100 per cent happiness

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The delight of giving

Sau gn-gone ... New Zealand dominates the Sauvignon Blanc market, however, a perfect storm of weather and pandemic-induced issues has resulted in a shortage of the popular grape. Nobody panic!

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e may have had a tough couple of years in the UK, but New Zealand's wine producers have been battling a perfect storm of unfortunate events as they strive to meet the increasing demand for their coveted Sauvignon Blanc. So, despite the winemakers' best efforts, 2022 looks likely to see a shortage of the firm favourite.

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Mother Nature levelled a raft of adverse climate conditions at the country in 2021, which compounded issues already in place as a result of pandemic-induced restrictions, labour shortages and supply challenges. The 2021 harvests in Marlborough, Wairarapa, Nelson and North Canterbury were down around 20 per cent due to early budbursts, extreme spring frosts and summer drought conditions.

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Rachel Gibson (pictured) of Huia Vineyards, a biodynamic and organic family-run Marlborough vineyard, reveals how they've tried to weather the storm: ‘The last two years have been incredibly challenging generally, but the poor harvests of 2021 were a further blow for vineyards in several areas of New Zealand. Huia was able to buy in some additional biodynamic organic Sauvignon Blanc grapes from a nearby vineyard to increase our volumes slightly but, even for us, the 2021 vintage was smaller so supply will be limited.’ Huia was able to offset some of the labour shortages thanks to the helping hands of friends and family, but the vineyard remains susceptible to the supply chain issues that still hinder New Zealand's winemakers. ‘The lead time on the delivery of production essentials like our eco-glass bottles, labels, capsules and boxes has trebled since the pandemic began. Shipping issues have had a massive impact across New Zealand, with people struggling to get cargo space, containers not being loaded onto ships, ports being short-staffed and some ships even bypassing New Zealand completely. All these factors have added two to three months to delivery schedules.’ Thankfully for fans of the country's famed Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand's winemakers are a resilient bunch. The small, perfectly formed but

strictly limited 2021 vintage will soon be followed by what looks to be an excellent 2022. And Huia have managed to get enough of its pre-pandemic Sauvignon Blanc over to the UK to tide over everyone who has a taste for fresh gooseberry notes and delicious tart acidity.

‘The strictly limited 2021 vintage will soon be followed by what looks to be an excellent 2022’ ‘Huia releases its Sauvignon Blanc a little later than many other producers, as the wine spends six months on lees before bottling,' says Rachel. ‘We've used this time to plan ahead and allocate wine to key markets. We haven't run out yet but there is none to spare. We're expecting a 15 per cent increase in the 2022 harvest, but this is still likely to be tightly allocated due to the high global demand.’ Of course, New Zealand isn't the only country that produces Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The shortage provides an opportunity to venture from the Southern hemisphere to explore the delights of the grape variety when grown in France, Spain, Italy and beyond. Read on for Dan's picks from the rest of the world – and find the New Zealand favourites still in stock at Wickhams.

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Sauvign-gone

Alternatives to t 1. HUIA PINOT GRIS, 13%, £18.99 A great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, this Pinot Gris makes a fantastic aperitif but also pairs wonderfully with white fish, chicken and dishes with a touch of spice.

The eye-catching name and label are inspired by the Las Fallas de Valencia festival in which paper dolls are paraded around the city.

The Huia grapes contribute subtle tropical notes, while those from Winsome add a clean minerality and a limey, linear backbone.

3. IL CASATO SAUVIGNON BLANC, 13%, £11.99

The palate is fine, well balanced and exhibits a classic minerality, meaning you can enjoy it all evening – just as well as one glass is never enough.

The excellent 2019 vintage was harvested early in the season once the grapes reached full ripeness.

If you haven't tried Italian Sauvignon Blanc before, Il Casato is the perfect introduction.

It's fairly dry on the palate, but features layers of honeysuckle, white flowers, pear and apple as well as exotic spicy notes.

This 2020 wine still delivers the citrus flavours one expects from a Sauvignon Blanc, but is tempered with floral and herbaceous notes.

2. EL NINOT DE PAPER BLANCO, 11.5%, £7.99

It's an excellent match for seafood and vegetable dishes – try pairing it with mussel risotto or baked fish.

This easy-drinking Spanish white wine is a blend of Viura (70%) and Sauvignon Blanc (30%) grapes.

4. HUIA SAUVIGNON BLANC, 13%, £18.99

It's gently fruity on the palate with citrus and green apple character, and features fresh acidity on the finish. Naturally, it makes a great match for paella.

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5. DOMAINE OCTAVIE SAUVIGNON DE TOURAINE, 13.5%, £13.50 Awarded a Ligers d'Argent (silver medal) in the 2020 Loire Valley Wine Competition, this is a fantastic example of French Sauvignon Blanc. In the glass it's a brilliant pale golden colour. On the nose it's expressive, combining citrus scents with notes of white flowers and mineral nuances.

The grapes for this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc come from two estates: the sandy, stony loam soil of the Huia Vineyard and the clay-based Winsome Vineyard.

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Italian For wine lovers, Italy has long been a beguiling prospect, but the wines of the less well-known Romagna region are, for many, still an undiscovered treasure. Happily, Wickhams has just got its hands on some fabulous wines from Garden of Italy. Be prepared to discover some new favourites

treasures

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ll wine lovers are passionate about their favourite countries, but there is something that makes Italy especially enticing to many. Perhaps it's the treasure trove of local grapes that draws us in, or the diverse regional styles of wine. Or maybe it's the effortless way in which Italian wine pairs with food and lies at the heart of wonderful sociable feasts. Some devote a lifetime of fine-wine drinking to Italy. None more so than Rob Oades who founded wine importer Garden of Italy as a second career after his first as a financier. Italy has always been in Rob's blood: his mother was born and raised on its Adriatic coast and met his English father who was posted there with the

RAF during the war. The couple moved to the UK after their marriage but retained close family ties, with Rob often travelling to Italy on long holidays to visit his relatives. Rob remembers wandering around sundrenched vineyards, the gatherings of the generations around a groaning table, and his dad giving him an occasional taste of wine – at first, diluted with water. Then there was his Italian aunt's famous fish restaurant. This background instilled in him a great love of Italian food and wine, a passion that has found its expression in Garden of Italy which specialises in wines from family-owned and independent wineries.

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Levizzano Rangone, Modena, Emilia Romagna

Italian treasures

The company currently focuses on the wines of the Romagna region, the southeastern part of Emilia-Romagna near Bologna in north-east Italy. This area has been somewhat overlooked in the past by the UK, Rob believes, mainly because it's comprised of many small producers making limited quantities of each release. ‘You have to go out and track them down,’ he says. He is helped in this task by his cousin Simone Sacchetti who works with him from a base in the region. Garden of Italy provides Wickhams with a range of four wines from the Montaia winery: a softly sparkling Pignoletto, a fine Chardonnay, a Sangiovese and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Rob is especially enthusiastic about the Sangiovese grape, describing it as ‘So distinctive and so important in Romagna’. And don't just take his word for it, as the best Sangiovese di Romagna is described in The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson as being ‘Gutsy and sophisticated enough to show why some of the clones most popular with discerning Tuscan producers come from Romagna’. Chianti lovers, take note!

Rob (left) at Montaia Vineyard

‘The area has been somewhat overlooked by the UK, mainly because it's comprised of many small producers making limited quantities of each release’ FREE delivery on orders over £40

Matching dishes to the wines is one of Rob's passions. ‘There is nothing more important to Italians than food and wine,’ he says. With his beloved Sangiovese he suggests serving rib of beef, roasts, and rich tomato pasta dishes, while the Montaia Cabernet Sauvignon is particularly good with lamb, steak and hearty casseroles. Rob pairs the Montaia Chardonnay with roast chicken and buttery, parmesan-rich risotto, and the Pignoletto is cracked open to accompany seafood canapés. Another appealing feature of Wickhams' Montaia range is the design. The bottles are all a distinctive dark glass in a shorter, broad-shouldered shape and feature vivacious, brightly coloured, gold-edged labels by renowned artist and poet Tonino Guerra (who was born in Romagna). They stand out on a packed dinner table and make perfect gifts for the many devotees of Italian wine.

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Garden of Italy tasting notes MONTAIA PIGNOLETTO VINO FRIZZANTE, ROMAGNA, ITALY (12.5%, £13.50)

MONTAIA RUBICONE CHARDONNAY, ROMAGNA, ITALY (13%, £12.99)

MONTAIA RUBICONE SANGIOVESE, ROMAGNA, ITALY (12.5%, £9.99)

A softly spritzy sparkler with the scents and flavours of fresh pears and red apples. The Pignoletto grapes for this grow in the relatively cool Imola hills of Romagna, balancing the fruitiness with a refreshing edge and light bubbles. The finish is dry and elegant – a definite step up from everyday Prosecco.

An unoaked but complex Romagna Chardonnay, rounded with a buttery note and creamy texture. The flavours of ripe orange and baked apple are long and satisfying – this is a white that demands food, especially chicken, salmon or a rich parmesan risotto.

Red cherries and freshly picked strawberries leap out of the glass in this refined and elegant Sangiovese. It's tangy with a subtle edge of tannin, a versatile wine which can be enjoyed on its own or with roast poultry or lighter pasta dishes. It could be chilled to bring out its succulent fruitiness, especially in hot weather.

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MONTAIA RUBICONE CABERNET SAUVIGNON, ROMAGNA, ITALY (13.5%, £13) This wonderfully aromatic and smooth Cabernet is made from grapes grown in Montaia's own vineyards in the Cesena foothills overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Look out for plenty of juicy cassis and blackberry, soft tannins, and some savoury notes with twists of pepper and sweet spices like cinnamon.


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Italian treasures

Susy Atkins'

Italian Job Wickhams founder Dan and wine pro Susy recently spent a day sampling the entire Wickhams list of Italian wines. Here's her carefully considered pick of the bunch

Whites

Reds

SANTA SERAFFA GAVI DEL COMUNE DI GAVI 2020, 12.5%, £13.50

GIRIBALDI CAJ BARBERA D’ALBA SUPERIORE 2019, 14%, £14.99

This premium Gavi, made from the Cortese grape in north-west Italy, is appealingly perfumed with floral and citrus notes, and super-fresh on the palate. There's an elegant and subtle complexity – think lime and elderflower mingled with light tropical fruit.

Giribaldi is a wonderful familyowned winery which has seen three generations at the helm and, for many years, has made its wine organically. Their fine example of Barbera is from a small single vineyard called Caj in Alba, nearly 400m above sea level.

It's made from the 45-year-old vines of a single 18-hectare estate planted on chalky soils near the Ligurian coast. All of which adds up to a highquality dry Italian white, delicious on its own and fabulous with delicate white fish, prawns or oysters, and seafood risotto.

CA’ DI PONTI GRILLO 2021, 13%, £7.50 There are some intriguing herbal hints to this ripe and brightly flavoured Sicilian white made from one of the island’s best-loved varieties, Grillo. Peach and orange juiciness meet mild aniseed and fennel with a little nuttiness. It's a young and zesty wine with fresh acidity; a lip-smacking aperitif and terrific with white-fish dishes like pan-fried hake or grilled vegetables such as barbecued pepper and onion kebabs. Great value too.

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It's brimming with lively red fruit like cherries and mulberries, with a dash of cassis and damson in the mix. Eight months in oak barrels has left a light trace of spice. Lifted and tangy on the finish, it makes a superb partner for rare steak, or try it with pan-fried duck breast.

RUMINAT PRIMITIVO 2020, TERRE DE CHIETI, 14%, £15 This ripe and beguiling Primitivo is made by an award-winning cooperative in the Abruzzo region of central-eastern Italy which practises meticulous biodynamic winemaking (a stricter and more wide-ranging version of organic production). Its violet and plum aroma is really distinctive, and there are sweetly ripe blackberries, crème de cassis and prunes on the palate, with a rounded and smooth texture. Try it with a lamb tagine or hearty lasagne.

Susy is a wine writer, presenter and author. She writes a regular weekly wine column for the Telegraph, is wine editor of Delicious magazine and drinks expert for Food Magazine.

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Next-level

Easter lunch The rich flavours of roast lamb and mutton call for an equally bold wine. A robust Bordeaux would work well, but Rioja wins every time with the Wickhams team. Read on for our pick of the bunch

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Next-level Easter lunch

Spiced leg of mutton with mint sauce We asked our friends at Pipers Farm in Devon for their go-to recipe for Easter Sunday. ‘Mutton makes a marvellous alternative to the classic lamb Easter roast. We recommend roasting it fast and serving pink for maximum flavour,’ say its butchers. INGREDIENTS Whole leg of mutton 1 Star anise 5 Cinnamon sticks 2 Coriander seeds 4 tbsp Sea salt a good pinch Freshly ground black pepper a good pinch Thyme a few sprigs Olive oil a glug Mint a bunch, finely chopped Cider vinegar 3 tbsp Wildflower honey 2 tbsp METHOD 1. Preheat the oven to 180°c/gas 4. Place a cast iron pan over a medium heat, add the spices and toast until fragrant. 2. Grind the toasted spices in a pestle and mortar with salt, pepper and the fresh thyme. Don't grind too finely as you want to retain some texture. Mix the spices with a glug of olive oil to form a paste. 3. Lightly score the mutton leg all over. Rub the spice paste in, making sure every part of the surface is covered. Place the mutton on a rack over a roasting tray and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours then remove from the oven, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes. 4. To make the mint sauce: combine the mint with the cider vinegar, honey and a splash of hot water. 5. Carve the mutton and serve with a drizzle of mint sauce and glass of Rioja.

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Lamb loves

Rioja Not sure what to pair with your lamb or mutton Easter feast?

EXPERT'S PICKS Andrew Hoyle, WSET Level 3

2. ONTAÑÓN ECOLÓGICO, 13.5%, £11.49 A full-flavoured, super ripe modern style of Rioja, Ontañón Ecológico reveals ripe plum and dark cherry fruit notes with a twist of spice and gentle tannins.

1. QUEIRÓN MI LUGAR VINO DE QUEL, 14.5% £26

The Tempranillo grapes are sourced from certified organic vineyards at altitudes of around 500m. They're macerated for 20 days, and fermentation takes place at controlled temperatures. The wine then spends five months in both American and French oak barrels.

This award-winning Rioja is made from a blend of 90 per cent Tempranillo and 10 per cent Garnacha. All the grapes are sourced from selected vineyard parcels in and around Quel, including El Poeta, La Bartola and Hoyo Judio.

ANDREW SAYS: ‘If your preference is for a little less oak and more fruit then look no further than this youngster from sunny Rioja Oriental.

The wine spends 18 months in new oak barrels, then six months in large French oak foudres. It has pronounced aromas of ripe black fruit and blueberries, backed by spice, mocha, fig and balsamic notes. The palate is generous with complex bramble and plum fruit characters, well-integrated oak and bright acidity. ANDREW SAYS: ‘This is the epitome of what Rioja has to offer. ‘Structured and complex but built for the modern consumer, it's bursting with ripe black fruits and a hint of cherry. There's full-bodied, well-integrated oak with perfectly balanced tannins. ‘A dangerously easy-drinking red that's worth its weight in gold.’

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‘Expect rich plum and cherry fruits, a hint of black pepper, the smoothest of tannins and a subtle toasty oak.’

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Next-level Easter lunch

EXPERT'S PICKS Pip Vanham, AIWS DipWSET 3. GATITO LOCO RIOJA BLANCO, 12.5%, £10.99 This is a modern wine that discards the hackneyed image of Rioja: everything about it is intentionally provocative to challenge your view of Rioja. Clean and crisp, intense yet fresh, the peachy notes are supported by tropical passionfruit and mango, with citrus undertones and a long, complex finish. PIP SAYS: ‘Produced using indigenous Viura (70%) and Tempranillo Blanco (30%) grape varieties and fermented in stainless steel with absolutely zero oak influence, this crazy little cat is delightfully fresh and zesty while showing enough weight to offer a complex mouthfeel. ‘Warm peach and nectarine take the lead, with vivacious passionfruit, silky mango and zingy citrus as backing singers.’

4. HACIENDA EL TERNERO SELECCION CRIANZA 2014, 13.5%, £17.99 This limited-edition wine made from 100 per cent Tempranillo grapes spends 14 months in French oak barrels. It shows a deep ruby colour in the glass, with notes of violets and fresh herbs on the nose. The palate is soft with black cherries and plum combined with balsamic, liquorice, black olive and toast notes from the time spent in oak. PIP SAYS: ‘Wine has been grown and made on the Hacienda el Ternero site since 1077, a heritage the winery is extremely proud of. ‘Unlike most Rioja, which is matured in American oak, this is aged in new and second-year French oak for a softer, more approachable style. ‘This wine is the culmination of careful maturation of flavours over a long

Know your Rioja

period of time, so treat the food you serve alongside it the same. Slowcooked chicken and chorizo casserole, braised lamb shank or cured meats and cheeses will work best – aged wine loves slow food.’

EXPERT'S PICK Dan Farrell-Wright 5. GÓMEZ CRUZADO BLANCO, 13.%, £15.99 Gomez Cruzado's Blanco 2 Ano is a Burgundy-style white Rioja which reflects the land, rather than purely varietal expression. The resulting white wine has character and weight while retaining fresh acidity and appealing aromatics. On the nose there are notes of honeysuckle, stone fruit and gentle toasty oak. The palate is beautifully textured, with an almost exotic note, evident yet perfectly integrated oak, and ripe fruit.

IRRESISTIBLE

Grown in central-northern Spain in the bordering autonomous communes of La Rioja, Navarre and Alava, almost all Riojas are blends, with the overwhelming varietal being Tempranillo. For over a century these wines have been grouped into three typical age classifications:

Rioja Selection £79.99

£69.99

Crianza. Aged for two years, with one of the years being in oak barrels (six months for white and rosé). Reserva. Aged for three years, with one of the years in oak barrels and six months in the bottle (two and a half years for white and rosé). Gran Reserva. Aged for at least five years, with two of the years in oak barrels and two in the bottle (white and rosé must have six months in the barrel). There are also Generico (or ‘joven’) wines which are usually fruity, fresh and intended to be drunk when they are young.

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Stock up for a long weekend of Easter celebrations and sample a selection of these must-try Riojas via the new Irresistible Rioja Selection mixed case.

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MARVELLOUS

Mother's Day GIFTS

Treat Mum to something she'll adore on March 27

FRENCH CHAMPAGNE AND WHITE WINE GIFT SET, £45 If you want to raise a toast to Mum at lunch, or give her a gift she can save for another time, this beautifully packaged French Champagne and White Wine Gift Set hits the spot. Paul Langier Champagne Brut is a delightfully classic sparkling wine from Épernay in the heart of the Champagne region. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, it's lovely and light with flavours of apple and citrus fruits. The second bottle, La Ruchette Dorée Côtes du Rhône Blanc, is a clean, crisp white wine made by southern-Rhône winemaker Julien Dugas. The nose is pretty and delicate with hints of hedgerow flowers.


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Marvellous Mother’s Day gifts

ROSÉ SAINTE MARIE SALCOMBE GIN, £39.99 A pink gin like no other, Rosé Sainte Marie is an elegant gift for fans of high-quality gin. The Devon-distilled spirit is inspired by the aromas and flavours of southern France, and captures the vibrant spirit of the Mediterranean coast via its blushed hue, herbal botanicals and natural sweetness. The delicate gin reveals fragrant notes of fresh lemon peel and Provençal herbs, complemented by the sweetness of red fruit and a distinctive perfume of white flowers and orange blossom. Lavender and lemon verbena, along with a hint of white pepper, add subtle finesse.

ULTIMATE CHARDONNAY GIFT SET, £50 This crowd-pleasing gift set showcases two shining examples of the most widely planted white grape variety in the world. The first is Auxey-Duresses Blanc Jean Pascal et Fils, a medium to fullbodied white with refreshing acidity, a rich palate and long finish. Expect crisp and clean flavours with a nutty, rich nose of summer orchard fruits. The second, Chardonnay De Wetshof Estate Bon Vallon Sur Lie, is a fresh and expressive wine from the internationally renowned De Wetshof Estate. The balanced medium-bodied white yields a yeasty and delicate nuttyclean finish with aromas of lemon, honeysuckle blossom and peach.

ROSÉ WINE AND CHAMPAGNE GIFT SET, £60 Rosé lovers would be thrilled to receive this beautifully packaged wine and Champagne bundle. The Extra Brut Premier Cru Rosé is a Champagne with tonnes of substance. On the palate it's elegant and subtle, with red berries, cherry pie and sweet spices. The palest of pink Provençal rosés, Domaine de la Vieille Tour is clean and well-balanced with good depth. Expect delicate aromas followed by sweet fruit from the Grenache grapes.

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Mixed blessings

Inspired by this issue's recommendations but not sure what to choose? Try a selection of our experts' picks via the Classic Mixed Case

£65.99

the drop is produced for Wickhams by Salt Media

£59.99

Featured in this month's must-try collection are Montaia Rubicone Sangiovese, Domaine Octavie Sauvignon de Touraine, Gatito Loco Rioja Blanco, El Ninot de Paper Blanco, Ontañón Ecológico and Giribaldi Dolcetto D'Alba.

How to order from Wickhams It’s easy, simply visit: wickhamwine.co.uk or call 01803 467547 In addition to a wide section of wines and other drinks, you’ll find everything included in this issue of the drop on the website. Our wine is carefully packaged using completely biodegradable materials and delivered within 1-2 working days by courier.

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