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November Wine Club

Six wines from the very top Grands Crus Classé Bordeaux estates which are declassified, and so offer extraordinary value for money

3 November 2012

9:00 AM

3 November 2012

9:00 AM

Last year a similar offer by FromVineyardsDirect was the biggest seller in Spectator history. I wasn’t surprised. These Bordeaux wines are astonishing value, all coming from some of the most celebrated châteaux in France. We generally can’t tell you where they were made – it’s part of the deal – but we can drop heavy hints.

The secret is in the French wine laws, which are commendably strict. Every property is allowed to sell a certain amount of wine under its own name. Anything else must be sold as generic wine from a particular commune. It’s a sensible way of preventing greedy vignerons from ruining the brand’s reputation. But the limits tend to be set by civil servants in Paris who have little idea of the quality they’re dealing with, and in the greatest years, such as 2009, 2010 and 2011, there’s a lot of fabulous orphaned wine floating around. This is where FVD comes in. Naturally the very finest grapes go into the named wines. But with these bottles at sometimes one-tenth the price, who cares?

Take the truly excellent Graves Blanc 2011 (1) which we’ve offered before to much acclaim. Beautifully balanced, this is a gorgeous example of the terrific whites now coming out of Bordeaux. £10.95.

The Sauternes is even finer. Called Haut Charmes 2009 (2), it is made alongside what is without doubt the most famous sweet wine in the world. It’s not quite as good, but then it costs roughly one-twentieth of the price. It is slightly drier than – oops, nearly told you the name – but it is glorious, smooth and velvety and would be perfect not just with desserts but also with rich patés or fresh fruit. The £29.50 price tag might seem a lot, but I promise you it is fabulous value.

Now the reds. I loved the Pessac-Leognan 2009 (3) which is declassified Ch Olivier from Graves, and has a gorgeous soft, rich flavour of berries. Already drinking remarkably well, and only £14.95.

As is the St Emilion 2011 (4) which hails from the most famous vineyard in that commune. This was made in one of the great years in Bordeaux’s recent history and is already drinking well. In five or ten years it will be incredible. Quite amazing value at £14.95.

The St Julien 2010 (5), from one of the classic years, is also a keeper. I think this is already delicious, packed with fresh and complex flavours, but with a hint of the depth and maturity to come. Its parent wine is on the market at between £165 and £180 a bottle. This costs just £19.45.

Finally the one we all love, the Margaux 2006 (6). Already with some age, it will improve mightily over the next few years. It is made by the folk at the greatest of all third growths (between £175-£225 a bottle), which most reckon should be a first growth. This will cost you just £19.95. Fantastic.

FomVineyardsDirect are also offering a mixed case of two bottles of each wine (the Haut Charmes are half bottles) for £191.40.

Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to FromVineyardsDirect, or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 3 December 2012.

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