A really strong team of wines from The Wine Company this week, drawn from France, Italy and New Zealand and including two delicious oddities. And so proud of our final choice was The Wine Company’s Mark Cronshaw that he rashly agreed to some very decent discounts. I hope you enjoy the selection as much as I did.
The 2014 Domaine du Cléray Chardonnay (1) is a charming curiosity, a Chardonnay from the Loire. As any fule kno the Loire Valley is Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé) and Chenin Blanc (Vouvray) country and Chardonnay has no business being there at all. But maverick winemaker Pierre-Jean Sauvion ignores tradition and has found a sweet spot at the western end of the valley in which to plant some, producing this excellent Chablis-esque example. Dry, with crisp apple and citrus flavours and a touch of honeyed peach, it’s a delight. And far cheaper than its quality demands, thanks to its humble non-AOC classification. £8.25 down from £9.49.
And if you like a touch of peach and apricot in your wines, as I do, you will love the 2014 Domaine de La Baume ‘Elisabeth’ Viognier (2) from the Languedoc. The 200-year-old estate lies between Béziers and Pézenas and makes excellent wines of which I’ve long been a fan. This 100 per cent Viognier is my favourite. Confident without being showy, it has lovely rounded fruit in the mouth, a sweetness on the edge of the tongue and a long, silky, savoury finish. £8.50 down from £9.99.
It’s remarkable to think that Sauvignon Blanc was first planted in Marlborough, New Zealand, only as recently as 1973, for some would argue that the examples made there are now the best in the world. That’s not to say that Marlborough has a monopoly on the variety. The scrumptious 2014 Greenhough Sauvignon Blanc (3) comes from Nelson, along the coast from Marlborough at the top of the South Island, where the wines show a touch more restraint and reserve.
Organically grown, with a portion fermented with wild yeast in barrel, the wine is complex yet deeply refreshing with floral, herbaceous notes on the nose and touches of guava and gooseberry on the palate. £11.00 down from £12.99.
The 2009 Château Belrose ‘Réserve Mon Caillou’ (4) is remarkable value – a six-year-old red Côtes de Bordeaux of quite some style for just £8.50, down from £9.99. Made chiefly from Merlot with added splashes of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc for weight and backbone, it’s full of beautifully textured plum, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of spice and even a hint of pencil shavings. Absolutely ready to drink. I’d bung it straight into a decanter and serve it with the Sunday roast, keeping resolutely schtum on how little you paid for it.
The 2011 Sette Vigne (5) is really quite extraordinary, being an equal blend of seven different red grape varieties including Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Montepulciano, drawn from seven different wine regions of Italy including Tuscany, Piedmont and Puglia. It’s a completely bonkers concept that works brilliantly. The resulting wine is intense ruby red, has a bold bouquet and a long, long smooth finish full of plums, damsons, coffee, chocolate and cripes knows what else, each mouthful revealing something completely different. £9.75 down from £11.99.
Finally, the 2010 CJ Pask Gimblett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec (6) made by the wonderful Kate Radburnd whose wines I’ve long admired. By whatever quirk of nature, the Gimblett Gravels, a 2,000-acre sub-region centred on the gravel of the old Ngaruroro River in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, is just perfect for producing world-beating Bordeaux blends and 100 per cent Syrahs. My cupboard under the stairs is full of GG wines and this will be joining it shortly. It’s plump, juicy, ripe, velvety, spicy, warming and long-lasting in the mouth — I simply love it. £12.50 down from £13.99.
There are three sample cases to try, and delivery, as ever, is free.
To view all other offers, visit new.spectator.co.uk/wine-club.