There was a time when I though Corney & Barrow was a bit posh - the double-barrelled name and smart locations gave them a whiff of old-school, moneyed respectability.
These days I think of them more as the England football team of wine merchants - a solid collection of what should be star names that do not quite live up to their billing.
More often a bit disappointing than thrilling, this early tasting of their Christmas range seemed to reiterate that impression - mostly reasonable wines, too many that were not quite good enough and little that was really noteworthy.
Overall, I liked the sweet wines best but found the tannins in the classic reds (I'm looking at you Bordeaux) rather drying and overextracted.
The revelation of the tasting was the English fizz, a Wiston Estate Rose Brut 2011 (£35.95) from West Sussex - toasty, biscuity and pure with assertively chiselled, linear acidity.
If you are planning ahead, here's my recommendation for a mixed Christmas case:
At £7.50, the aromatic, crisp Gascogne House White and ripe, spicy Languedoc House Red are modern, expressive, thoroughly enjoyable quaffers.
Move up a price bracket and the C&B White Burgundy 2013 (£11.50) and C&B Company Reserve Bordeaux 2012 (£12.50) are more-complex, classic food wines.
Finish off with an elegant C&B Sauternes 2010 (£12.25 half-bottle) and either the bright Ruby (£12.25) or adept Tawny (£18.50) ports depending on your budget.
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