Good things also come in small packages: Richard Esling May 26

Saffron, truffles, caviar (we should be so lucky!) normally come in small packages and sometimes so does wine.

Thursday, 21st May 2020, 2:59 pm
Selection of Half Bottles SUS-200521-143046001

Half bottles seem to have become popular during our weeks of confinement and are the perfect size for those self-isolating on their own, or for those wanting a mid-week treat, but trying to be a little more reasonable - or at least half reasonable.

There are, of course, those who consider that the magnum is the correct size of bottle, so long as there is only one person drinking! Churchill, who consumed copious quantities of Pol Roger champagne, was of this view, although I am not advocating consuming magnums on a regular basis. Last year, I met a retired German diplomat whilst on holiday in Tuscany, happily consuming a magnum of Ca Del Bosco (one of Italy’s top sparkling wines) with his wife. His reasoning was that as he got older (he was over 80), he had less time available to drink and hence ordered the larger size bottle! We all have our theories!

Half bottles are, however, a very convenient size for many occasions and widely available in all quality levels.

Two world-leading French wine producers have a range of halves in their product portfolios, just right for those occasions when we need a little ‘uplift’ , or indeed a picnic, now that we are at last allowed to do so - I think?

Louis Jadot in Beaune, is a leading producer of wines from the Burgundy region, making fine wines since 1859, with a global reputation for quality. Half bottles of their Macon Blanc Villages 2018 are available at Morrison’s for £8.30. A crisp, fresh Chardonnay with notes of citrus and green apple. For a light, summery red, Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages Combe aux Jacques 2018, has succulent fruit and soft, ripe tannins from the classic Gamay grape variety. Fabulous picnic wine, with chicken salad, pork pies or thick-cut ham and mustard sandwiches. £6.85 from Morrison’s or Tesco’s.

A bit pricier, but nevertheless an excellent little tipple, is the Chablis 2018 Cellier de la Sablière, also from Jadot. A little trickier to track down, but if you are still working in London, Wholefoods have it at £12.40 per half bottle.

Taittinger Champagne from Reims is another of the leading wine producers of the world. One of the last great independent Champagne houses, it is a reference point for quality and integrity. Taittinger Brut Reserve comes in half bottles at £24.90 from a variety of online and offline suppliers, including Waitrose, Lea and Sandeman and www.champagnedirect.co.uk.

Blended from no less than 35 different Crus, it has an unusually high proportion (40 per cent) of Chardonnay and together with long ageing on the lees, gives a full flavoured yet delicate champagne, with notes of toasted buttered brioche, honey and fresh fruit. Excellent as an aperitif with canapés or smoked salmon on rye.

As a special treat, Taittinger also produces its Brut Rosé in half bottles. £28.85 from Champagne Direct and the Champagne Wine Company. A delicate salmon pink, aromas of raspberries and wild strawberries mingle with spice and blackcurrant leaf. Charming, subtle and the epitome of elegance, like so many things French!