Esme Johnstone at FromVineyardsDirect.com is the past master at digging out little parcels of top quality, fully mature vino from fine French estates and I’m delighted to report that his touch has not deserted him. Along with a brace of tip top whites and a rosé, we’ve a trio of really tasty (and tastily priced) clarets, each one so delectable they’re just begging to be drunk.
First, the 2016 Domaine du Bicheron, Macon-Péronne Vieilles Vignes (1), an old favourite that I remember we offered a couple of years back in a previous vintage to the delight of Spectator readers. This vintage is even better. Made from old vine Chardonnay in the Mâconnais, this is beautifully structured and everything quality white burgundy should be. It’s soft, supple, creamy and buttery, with oodles of ripe, juicy fruit; think white peaches and pears with a touch of citrus. Nice price too. £11.95 down from £12.95.
If you fancy a Sauvignon Blanc of similar style and quality to the above Chardonnay, there’s the 2016 Reuilly, Domaine Mabillot (2). It’s the absolute antithesis of the lean, austere, mineral Sauvignons that one can find among the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, and which many folk indeed love. No, this has abundant weight and ripeness and, although it has that typical Loire Sauvignon grassiness and even flintiness, there’s a hint of tropical fruit too and succulence. I’d say it was a Sauvignon Blanc for Chardonnay lovers and utterly delicious. £12.95 down from £13.95.
The 2016 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé (3) is an absolute peach of a wine and, I reckon, pretty much essential summer drinking. Made at Mas de Daumas Gassac which is arguably the best estate in the Languedoc — it’s certainly the best-known — it’s a half-and-half blend of Syrah and Carignan aged for six months in stainless steel. Uncomplicated and wonderfully drinkable, it’s delicately pale and vibrantly fresh and fruity, with that lovely touch of spice and herbs one gets in France’s deep south. £8.45 down from £8.95.
The 2010 Ch. de l’Abbaye de Saint-Ferme (4) was only introduced to FromVineyardsDirect.com’s list a month ago; since then they’ve sold some 300 cases of it. I’m not in the least surprised because it’s really remarkable value. A Cabernet/Merlot Bordeaux Supérieur produced at an 11th-century estate founded by the Benedictines, it’s just so darn drinkable. It’s soft, smooth and mellow with perfectly balanced fruit, acid and tannins and I all but drained the bottle at a sitting. £10.45 down from £10.95.
The 2015 Vintage Claret (5) is FromVineyardsDirect.com’s new house claret and will only ever be produced in fine vintages. As you well know, 2015 was a spectacular vintage in Bordeaux and this is a little belter. Made by Jonathan Maltus — he of Le Dôme and Ch. Teyssier, and famously the first Englishman to get a perfect 100/100 score from Robert Parker — it’s full of ripe, juicy, bramble fruit and boasts a wonderful softness thanks to its luscious Merlot-dominant fruit. £11.45 down from £11.95.
Finally, the 2002 Ch. Clos l’Eglise (6), a gloriously grown-up claret from that bit of the Côtes de Castillon that sits right next to Saint-Émilion. I really can’t remember the last time I drank a 15-year-old claret for less than 15 quid and certainly not one as good as this. It’s a complete and utter steal. The estate produces such fine wine that the entire property was recently bought by Gerard Purse of Ch. Pavie and the fruit now goes into ‘Esprit de Pavie’. This means, sadly, that Ch. Clos l’Eglise is no more. It’s nigh on impossible to find mature claret of this quality at this price, so do snap this up while you can. £13.95 down from £14.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.