Our new offer comes — this always sounds like a misprint — from FromVineyardsDirect, the terrifically popular wine merchants which sells vast quantities of wine to Spectator readers. And no wonder; their list is fairly short but impeccably selected. They track down delectable wines and buy them directly from the people who make them, which means their prices are very good too. They are especially adept at finding declassified bottles: overproduction from famous vineyards which can’t, because of strict French wine laws, be sold under their real names. They’re not the absolute cream of the crop, but they come very close, for a fraction of the price. There’s one in this offer.
Mâcon wines, often thought of as the poor relation of the great Burgundies, have come on fast recently, and now rival some wines from the Côte d’Or. They have always had a freshness and zip; increasingly they are gaining some of the nutty, vanilla, peachy flavours of the great names. I really liked this Mâcon-Lugny 2010 (1) from Les Beaubery, which is both refreshing and satisfying. It comes from the top of the Lugny plateau, a cooler spot, and it has a nice mineral undertone. And it’s at an excellent price too, just £9.75 a bottle, or £19.95 in magnum (8).
Next is a lovely wine from southern France and the shores of the Mediterranean. I cannot imagine anything nicer than enjoying this with freshly caught seafood, or even a spicy bouillabaisse. It is something of a cult in France, made from the familiar Roussanne and the very unfamiliar Bourboulenc grape. It’s called La Brise Marine 2011 (2) and it’s made at Château Négly in La Clape, and you’ll love it because it is fat, smooth and scented. Luscious. Don’t drink it too cold, or you’ll freeze out the glorious flavour. My wife and I competed to finish the bottle. At £10.95, a snip.
At the same price we have a terrific Aussie Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. It’s the Coombe Farm 2011 (3), and it is nicely balanced, deeply flavoured, matured in French oak, and as different as you can get from mass-produced Oz Chardonnays. Dame Nellie Melba was born at Coombe Farm, and I don’t think it’s entirely fanciful to find flavours of Melba toast and peach Melba in this bottle.
Now the reds. Here is a delectable Rioja, the Mencos Tempranillo 2010 (4) made in a small bodega by the Conde de Hervias — whose family have owned the estate since 1260. And some of the vines date from pre-phylloxera days, which is going back a very long way indeed. Some wine-bar Rioja is pretty rubbishy, but this is plumptious and beautifully shaded. Perfect for roast dinners, casseroles, and steak frites as we wait for spring. Just £9.95.
Now two clarets. Neither is cheap, but both are tremendous value. Château La Cardonne used to be owned by the Lafite branch of the Rothschilds, and that inestimable quality is still there. The 2003 (5) is lovely, with that smooth ageing at the edges that makes me think of leather-bound books, bonfires, plums and roast chestnuts. Not all Bordeaux reds improve with age, but ten years have done wonders for this. £14.95.
Finally our declassified claret. I can’t tell you where it comes from, but it’s a St-Estèphe 2011 (6), and comes from one of the three most famous properties in that commune. The price of £17.95 — or £35.95 (9) in magnums — may seem a lot, but if it had the château’s name on the label it would cost between two and a half and three times as much. It is a very serious claret and delectable drinking now, but in five to eight years it will be magical.
Delivery as ever is free, and there is a sample case containing two of each bottle.
Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to the wine merchant, or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 7 March 2013.
Click here to take advantage of this offer (subject to closing date)