We seem unusually focused this week — never an easy task after one of our Wine Club tastings — with all six wines coming from France. We didn’t plan it that way. It’s just the six bottles that shone brightest and sang loudest to us were all French: three from Bordeaux and one each from Burgundy, the Rhône and Provence.
FromVineyardsDirect are absolute masters at tracking down small parcels of this and that from classic regions and great vintages. Some wines become stalwarts of their list and some are gone in the pop of a cork, so small is the number of cases they get their hands on. The selection below is a fine representation of what FVD are about and since they trade on very fine margins indeed, discounts are hard won. But, dear reader, Esme Johnstone capitulated over a glass or so and I’m delighted to report that he has generously agreed a significant discount on every bottle. Thanks Esme!
So fine a reception did a previous vintage of the 2014 Château Bauduc, Bordeaux Blanc (1) get at a reader tasting last autumn that we offered it in these pages in November and it went down a storm. As I mentioned then, both Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein think highly enough of it to serve it as the house white in their restaurants. Made in the Entre-Deux-Mers from 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, it’s purity itself — crisp, clean, zesty, refreshing and precise. £9.45 down from £9.95.
As a complete contrast there is the 2012 Graves Blanc (2). Also from Bordeaux, albeit the Graves rather than Entre-Deux-Mers, it’s much more rounded and weighty in style. Made by the white wine master himself, Denis Dubourdieu, at his finest estate, it boasts some Sémillon alongside the Sauvignon Blanc and spends a short time in oak. It’s dry but succulent and full-flavoured with hints of white peaches, vanilla and gooseberries. £11.25 down from £11.95.
From Burgundy, we’ve the 2012 Domaine Merloix Saint-Véran (3) an unblended Chardonnay of real character. All too often the wines of Saint-Véran are dismissed as poor man’s Pouilly Fuissé but this is far too good for such snooty-boots nonsense. Indeed, put it in an ice bucket with its yellow capsule showing and a white linen napkin obscuring the label and it would pass for something much grander. I absolutely loved its supple, honeyed, tropical fruit and whispers of vanilla and toffee. £11.45 down from £11.95.
The 2014 Mas de Cadenet Sainte Victoire (4) is classic Provencal rosé from vineyards in the foothills of Montagne Sainte Victoire near Aix. Again, we offered a previous vintage of this last summer and readers fair lapped it up, so I’m delighted that FVD are in a position to offer us more. A typical blend of Grenache (mainly), Cinsault and Syrah, it’s a decadent boudoir pink with plenty of wild strawberry, raspberry and touches of peppery herbs on nose and palate. Cheaper than last year, it’s just £9.95 down from £10.95.
As for the reds, the 2013 Domaine les Grands Bois Cuvée Maximilien (5) is a full-on Côtes du Rhônes Villages from Cairanne. Esme Johnstone discovered the tiny, family-owned estate four or five years ago thanks to a tip from the local auberge-keeper. The 2012 vintage made the cover of Decanter and the 2013 is a worthy successor, being a boisterous, big-boned blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Hearty stuff indeed. £11.45 down from £11.95.
Finally, from Bordeaux, the 2009 Château Les Moines (6), a medal-winning Cru Bourgeois claret of quite some panache. 2009 was a belter of a vintage and I imagined this 70 per cent Cabernet and 30 per cent Merlot blend to cost far more than the £13.35 (down from £13.95) that FVD are asking. With oodles of ripe dark fruit — blackcurrant to the fore — supported by firm but pleasingly smooth tannins, it’s truly classy claret and just the sort of wine that FVD run to ground so well.
Delivery, as always, is free, and there is a sample case of two of each wine.
To view all other offers, visit new.spectator.co.uk/wine-club.