An offer made by FromVineyardsDirect is always exciting, which is why FVD is one of our bestselling merchants. Their list is short, but selected with immense care. And they also have terrific tastings which are more like parties, sometimes in private houses of distinction, sometimes in public buildings which you want to get your toes inside, such as the Italian ambassador’s residence. These prices are not discounted, though FVD claims that their policy of buying direct from the growers keeps costs very low, and I do have to say that — without poring over their spreadsheets — what you get for your money cannot be questioned.
Take the Bascand Riesling 2013 (1) from Waipara on the South Island of New Zealand. At £8.95 a bottle, this is remarkable, being bone dry, yet with gorgeous floral and herby scents. Crisp but fruity, with overtones of pineapple, lychees and… well, I’ll stop there for fear of looking silly. Just let me say it’s delicious, and for those readers who worry about alcohol content, it’s a very gluggable 12%. You’ll want to buy lots.
Another favourite of mine is Gavi di Gavi in the Piedmont. Gavi is the name of the town, and Gavi wines come from around the general area, whereas the superior Gavi di Gavi comes from nearer to the town of Gavi. I hope that is clear. The result in this 2012, La Minaia, made by Nicola Bergaglio (2) is a luscious wine with a hint of apricots and mangoes and a lovely long finish. This is an area whose reputation is steadily growing, and £11.95 remains great value for such quality.
Now something rather special. Denis Dubourdieu is one of the most distinguished winemakers in Graves, and he has made this Médaille d’Or Special Reserve Blanc 2012 (3) from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. The profits are going to support the British skeleton team in the Winter Olympics in Russia next year — profits, that is, so you will be supporting our competitors (they won gold in 2010) without forking out an extra penny yourself. Apart from that, this is a serious and delectable wine. £12.95.
Now the reds. As I absolutely never tire of saying, some of the best-value French wines are coming from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, and it’s no wonder that their prices are rising fast. One of my favourite appellations is St Chinian, a cluster of 20 villages under the Cevennes. This Château de Ciffre 2012 (4) savours of cherries and damsons and will improve both with bottle age, or just by being decanted an hour before serving. At £8.95 it’s terrific value, and the price can only go up over the years.
The same is likely to happen to Rhône wines, now that the Far Eastern market is showing an interest. Get in before they do. Nothing would work better for your cunning purposes than buying loads of this amazing 2011 Domaine les Grands Bois, Cuvée Maximilien, from the village of Cairanne (5). Many experts, including the infallible Jancis Robinson, reckon this may be the best Côtes-du-Rhône Villages of them all, and when you sip it you’ll see why. It’s robust, even meaty, yet has a delicate perfume on top. And it will go on improving for six or seven years. Just £11.95.
Finally a wonderful claret at a striking price. The 2006 Château Fourcas--Dumont (6) is from Listrac, which means that it doesn’t attract the same premium as the Haut-Médoc, but if you buy this you’ll realise that you’re fooling all the label snobs. It is a mature wine, with all the great blend of cedar and leather and dark, forest fruits. I have had greatly inferior classed clarets costing two or three times as much as this incredibly reasonable £15.95.
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