It’s very much the last of the summer wine this week, with three whites ideal for quaffing outdoors during the last picnics or barbecues of the year and three reds perfect for the warming stews and roasts of early autumn. And there’s a distinctly French flavour to this FromVineyardsDirect selection too, with just one white from Spain to break up the Gallic monopoly.
Picpoul de Pinet is all the rage at the moment and there can’t be a wine bar or restaurant that doesn’t have one on its list — with, sadly, many indifferent ones among them. The 2013 Château des Lauriers Picpoul de Pinet Prestige (1), though, is as good an example as I’ve come across. It’s typically zesty and the first sip is nothing if not invigorating. No surprise to discover that Picpoul is known colloquially in the Languedoc as ‘lip stinger’. But let the wine open out in the glass a touch and a gentle creaminess steals to the fore accompanied by a delightful underlying fruitiness. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing — I really can’t think of a finer partner to a dozen oysters now that we are almost at ‘R’-in-the-month time. £7.95.
And if Picpoul is de rigueur, so too is Albariño from Rías Baixas in Galicia, north-west Spain. I’ve been something of a late convert to Albariño’s charms, having kissed a lot of frogs. But the 2013 Val Do Sosego Albariño (2) is spot on, with delicate stone fruit flavours and a creamy finish with the faintest of faint prickles too. Try it with a bowl of mussels and you won’t be disappointed. £9.95.
We’re back to France, to Bergerac, with the 2012 Château de Fayolle (3). Another 20 miles to the west, though, and the appellation would be Bordeaux and the wine would be in a completely different price bracket. A herbicide-free, low-yield blend of 80 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 20 per cent Sémillon, it has plenty of lemon peel on the nose and measured, concentrated fruit in the mouth followed by a long dry finish. It makes a great value alternative to white Graves and is delicious with trout fillets and lime and caper sauce. £9.45.
The 2011 Classic Claret (4) has to be the bargain of the offer. Produced especially for FVD by Charlie Sichel, it took a year to get the 90 per cent Merlot and 10 per cent Cabernet blend just right and I reckon they have more than cracked it. There is plenty of dark, bramble fruit on nose and palate but there is a lovely savoury note too and well-structured tannins. I think it really is a steal at just £7.95 and deserves to be served in a carafe or decanter.
The 2010 Château Trillol (5) is completely yummy, if you will forgive such a technical, highbrow wine trade expression. A hand-harvested Grenache/Syrah/Carignan blend from Cathar country in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it is all pepper and spice and slow-ripened dark berry fruit. I love it and am not at all surprised to hear it has been laden with awards. Terrific stuff, it’s best served with a hearty wild boar stew or braised oxtail. £11.45.
Finally, the 2012 Pauillac (6), the latest in a long line of first-rate ‘defrocked’ clarets that are something of a FVD speciality. I’m told that this is the first time that the surplus production from what is arguably Pauillac’s finest First Growth estate has been sold on the open market, every last drop of which was snapped up by FVD. Quite a feat! From a very decent vintage, it’s still rather too young and was only bottled a month ago. It has a discreet elegance and style, though, with restrained red berry fruit and typical hints of cedar wood and cigar box. Tuck it away for six months or so and then enjoy with saddle of lamb. £20.95 or £41.90 per -magnum.
There’s a sample case containing two of each wine, and delivery, as ever, is free.
All prices are correct at time of publication, but we may alter prices at any time for any reason.
To view all other offers, visit new.spectator.co.uk/wine-club.