As we all know, getting the first drink of the day right can be a tricky business, not least because what you fancy at noon will be very different from what you want at 7 p.m. On either occasion, you need to tread carefully, with nothing too dry, too sweet or too alcoholic. Too dry and you shock the taste buds and everything tastes overly acidic; too sweet and you bugger up your palate for later. And as for the alcohol, well, you’re just getting your eye in, so take it easy. You can always turn it up to 11 later if necessary.
Full marks, then, to my old chum Laura Taylor of Private Cellar who, at a fraction before noon the other day, pitched it just right with some perfectly chilled 2017 Les Rafelières Sauvignon Blanc (1) from the meticulous Pierre-Jean Sauvion in the Loire Valley. Although made in Muscadet country, it’s more akin to a fine Sancerre with its grassy, blackcurrant leaf and nettle notes. Soft and full-bodied, zesty and zingy with an invigorating freshness, it hits the spot just so as a pre-lunch pipe-opener with little damage done since it’s only a meagre 12%vol. £9.25 down from £9.95.
The 2016 Laurent Savoye Beaujolais Blanc (2) is a delectable curiosity and remarkably tasty. White wine (made from 100 per cent Chardonnay) accounts for just 1 per cent of production in Beaujolais and this example from leading producer, Laurent Savoye, is hugely sought after. And no wonder, for it’s deliciously creamy with vibrant, fresh, butter-coated citrus fruit and a long, lingering mineral finish. Crikey it’s good! £13.50 down from £14.65.
The 2015 Sorin Coquard Bourgogne Blanc (3) is equally seductive. Although just a humble AC Bourgogne, it’s a Chablis in all but name, being produced mere metres outside that hallowed region. It boasts similar purity of fruit and minerality to that of a fine Chablis but doesn’t boast a similar price thank goodness. 2015 was a hot year so there’s plenty of ripeness here but plenty of freshness too, with just a whisper of oak for added complexity. £13.75 down from £14.75.
The 2015 Ch. de Sours Rouge (4) from Bordeaux is a special one-off just for Speccie readers. When entrepreneur Jack Ma bought the estate in 2016 he decided to clear the furthest reaches of the cellars to make way for renovation. Private Cellar snapped up everything they could and although they don’t have enough 2015 to put on their list, they are offering it here at a ridiculously modest price. Merlot-dominant, it’s rich and spicy, with plums, damsons and blackcurrants coated in gentle tannins. It’s unmistakeably claret and, with its mouth-filling fruit could pass for a wine twice the price. £8.95.
And talking of drinkable, well-priced claret, do consider the 2015 Ch. Mathiot (5). An AC Bordeaux produced in the Entre-Deux-Mers by the Dubourg family, it’s one of Private Cellar’s most popular buys, particularly enjoyed at shoot lunches where it goes down a storm. 75 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 25 per cent Merlot, it’s full of luscious red fruit with a touch of tannin for structure and a long savoury finish. It’s wonderful value. £9.95 down from £10.85.
Finally, the 2014 Tours de Beaumont (6), the second wine of Cru Bourgeois Ch. Beaumont, whose one-block vineyard sits between St Julian and Margaux in the Haut Médoc. 2014 was a cracking vintage and this gloriously coloured, richly flavoured wine is a first rate example of what was produced. A classic Cabernet/Merlot blend with 15 months in oak, it’s beautifully put together and, well, extremely grown up. £14.50 down from £15.50.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.