The end of the month is nigh and the sorry few still on the January water wagon are no doubt clinging to it by their fingertips, knuckles ever whiter. I’m not trying to tempt any of you to jump off prematurely, I promise, but we’ve some cracking wines this week courtesy of FromVineyardsDirect, those crafty runners-to-ground of hidden treats and treasures.
I don’t know what the vinous equivalent of a truffle hound is, but FromVineyardsDirect must have a few in the kennel, because nobody is better at coming up with bargain parcels from the unlikeliest of places than FVD’s Esme Johnstone and David Campbell.
The 2011 La Réserve Claret (1) is a case in point. We offered the previous vintage, which proved extremely popular, in March last year, and the 2011 is a worthy successor. Produced by Jonathan Maltus, the maverick English winemaker behind St Emilion clarets such as Château Teyssier, Château Laforge and the cult Le Dôme — whose 2010 vintage scored an extraordinary 100/100 from Robert Parker — La Réserve has an impeccable pedigree.
A blend of Merlot (lots) and Cabernet Sauvignon (not much), it’s rich, ripe and soft and extremely approachable. There’s lots of juicy dark fruit here with a persistent finish and if you could bung it in a carafe or decanter I would. An under-ten-quid house claret from the producer of a Parker 100-pointer? If that’s not a rarity worth snapping up, I don’t know what is. £9.95.
Travel a little further west into Bergerac and you will find the 15th-century Château de Fayolle, the top wine of which is 2012 Château de Fayolle ‘Sang du Sanglier’ (2). The terroir here is excellent — limestone, chalk and clay as it is in St Emilion — and the blend of grapes is similar too, with a preponderance of Merlot.
The estate uses no herbicides at all and enjoys state of the art equipment and first-rate winemaking. The wine spends a year in French oak and its deep, dark, ripe fruit is concentrated, intense and complex. It’s Bergerac and not St Emilion, so it’s £11.65 and not £25. But it’s bloody good and an absolute snip.
The 2012 Château Virgile Rouge (3) from the Costières de Nîmes, south of the Rhône, is a tasty blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Made by brothers Serge and Thierry Baret, it’s spicy and chocolatey with black cherry, liquorice and even violets on nose and palate. Robert Parker reckons the estate offers ‘mind-boggling value’ and with this example priced at a customer-friendly £7.95, who would disagree?
The final red of our offer is the 2012 Cefiro Reserva Pinot Noir (4) from Chile’s Casablanca Valley. Hand-picked fruit is cold-fermented and then aged in French oak for best part of a year, to give a wine of great style and finesse.
There is sour/bitter cherry, a touch of beef bouillon and a vibrant freshness to the wine, and I absolutely loved it. And I was quite taken aback to discover it was less than a tenner. New World Pinot Noir as good as this is almost impossible to find at such a price. £9.95.
The 2013 Plaine du Pont Viognier (5) from Pays d’Oc is simply charming. It has all the peach and apricot notes that one expects from Viognier, plus — crucially — a fine acidity, the lack of which can often undermine this increasingly popular grape variety. As a result, despite its heady aroma, it’s gloriously refreshing and makes a simple but delicious aperitif. £7.95.
Finally, the 2013 Clos des Lunes, Lune Blanche (6) an old-vine Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend of quite some style. I’ve enjoyed this many times before and can’t recommend it highly enough. Produced at Domaine de Chevalier’s new estate in Sauternes, it’s dry, not sweet, rounded and supple with lots of white stone fruit, plenty of citrus and a touch of vanilla. It’s absolutely scrumptious and just £13.95, which is no price at all given its provenance.
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.