Our partners Yapp Bros have just scooped the coveted Wine List of the Year gong at the recent Inter-national Wine Challenge, along with Languedoc Merchant of the Year and Loire Merchant of the Year. In their commendation, the judges said: ‘The Yapp Bros list is concise, beautifully illustrated with great writing and offers much more than a simple list of wines.’ I think it’s fair to say that Jason Yapp is feeling rather chipper.
So much so, in fact, that not only did Jason put up a particularly fine selection for me to whittle down on your behalf, he also lopped a quid off every bottle and promised to put a copy of Yapp Brothers’ award-winning, David Chandler-illustrated wine list in every case, along with a bound gift pack of ten of David’s -collage-based postcards.
We start with the 2016 Ardèche Viognier ‘Grès du Trias’, (1). Viognier is a tricky grape, both to cultivate and to vinify, and outside its spiritual heartland of Condrieu, it’s rare to find affordable examples that have the typical peach ’n’ apricot character its admirers so love. This is a charmer, though, produced by the excellent Vignerons Ardèchois -cooperative and, considering you can pay northwards of £45 for Condrieu these days, I reckon it’s a bit of a find. £10.35 down from £11.35.
The 2016 Ch. Roubaud Blanc ‘Cuvée Passion’, (2) comes from Costières de Nîmes and the vineyards planted along the Rhône delta. They’ve made wine here since Roman times and in a nod to that heritage the -bottle is embossed with the Nîmes emblem of a crocodile and a palm tree, denoting the African exotica that returning legionaries had seen. Produced from old vine Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, which both thrive in the alluvial soil and bask in 300 days of sunshine, the wine is wonderfully fresh, ripe, herbal and creamy. £11.95 down from £12.95.
The 2016 Domaine des Bruniers -Quincy, (3) comes from the Loire Valley and France’s second oldest Appellation Contrôlée area after Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Made from 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, it’s exuberantly fresh and vibrant with nettles and elderflower on the nose and zesty citrus on the palate.
Thanks to the appellation being a little less well-known than its Loire Valley -siblings of Sancerre and Menetou Salon, it represents excellent value. £13.50 down from £14.50.
The 2015 Ardèche Cabernet Sauvignon, (4) is one of Jason Yapp’s so-called ‘go-to wines’ that he drinks at home. When the French wine lake threatened to get out of control, enlightened producers in the Ardèche grubbed up their over-yielding vineyards and concentrated on producing single varietals of fine quality and decent price, such as this. Jammy and juicy with soft tannins and a faint hint of mint, it’s -perfect quaffing fare to see one through to the autumn. £8.50 down from £9.50.
The 2013 Ch. Milhau-Lacugue ‘Cuvée Magali’, (5) from Saint-Chinian is a cracking blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault that typifies the value and quality to be found in the Languedoc these days. It has an enticing herbal, garrigue-like bouquet, buckets of ripe, red and dark berry fruit, peppery undertones and a fresh, succulent finish that simply forces you to take another gulp.
I gather that it’s a standard on the list at Le Gavroche, where they certainly know a good wine when they see one. £10.25 down from £11.25.
Finally, the 2016 ‘Equinoxe’ Crozes-Hermitage, (6) from Maxime Graillot, son of the celebrated Alain, whose Rhône wines I adore (his spectacular white Crozes Hermitage is one of my desert-island wines). M.G. has clearly earned his spurs, because this 100 per cent Syrah is a sleek, black beauty, forward and accessible, pure and clean. I loved its spicy, ripe, bramble fruit and its silky tannins and long finish. £14.75 down from £15.75.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.