I’ve just been sent an order form for the 2006 Château Pétrus, now being held in bond. It works out at £917 a bottle (or, say, £15 a sip.)
I’ve just been sent an order form for the 2006 Château Pétrus, now being held in bond. It works out at £917 a bottle (or, say, £15 a sip.) Clearly things are going swimmingly for the great names of Bordeaux — and indeed Burgundy. In the rest of France things are a little tougher.
Which is why I always recommend people to try French wines from outside the most famous areas. To compete in world markets they have to try much harder, and the result is that if you are prepared to experiment, you can find wines as good as any from the New World and at very decent prices. Someone who does just that is Jason Yapp, son of the fabled, now retired, Robin Yapp. Like his father he is prepared to spend ages fossicking round in France looking for small growers who produce modest quantities of delicious, honest, flavoursome wines for not very much. This is important, since Robin Yapp was — how can I put this? — anxious not to undervalue his stock. Jason sells at lower prices and has discounted all these bottles for us by 10 per cent.
Take this white Côtes du Rhône Villages, ‘Sablet’, from the Domaine St Gayan 2006 (1). It’s a gorgeous, creamy, herby wine skilfully blended from four of the most distinctive south of France grapes, Viognier (for perfume), Bourboulenc (citrus), Clairette (strength) and white Grenache (softness and fleshiness). Great summer drinking, at £7.79.
Quincy has always been a favourite of mine, and this 2005, made by Denis and Nicole Jaumier (2), is a fine example. Like many other Loire whites, it’s a Sauvignon Blanc, but it has a distinctively fresh nose and a mellow fruitiness which I think is extremely attractive. At £8.55 it is less costly than its neighbours such as Sancerre, but just as good.
The two reds make an interesting contrast. The Saumur Champigny 2006, another Loire wine, comes from the admirable Domaine Filliatreau (3) and has been very popular with Spectator readers. It’s made from Cabernet Franc, one of the leading Bordeaux grapes, and it has a lightness, combined with smoky, minty, blackcurrant undertones which make it just right for a picnic, if we get the weather. Chill this for half an hour in the fridge and it will be perfect. Reduced to £7.79.
Finally another Rhône, this time from the small commune of Vacqueyras. It’s the 1999 Cuvée Spéciale from Pascal Frères (4). This is such a rich, full, complex, deliciously aged wine that it would stand up against any claret at two or three times the price. Quite scrumptious, and a terrific bargain at £8.95.
You can buy the wines by the whole case, or pick the sampler case containing three bottles of each. Delivery is, as ever, free.