Jonathan Ray Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 1 February

So that’s January done and dusted. Phew! I don’t know about you, but the wretched water wagon — to which I clung by my fingernails as always – is but a grim memory and I’m raring to go.jonath

Happily, my abstinence proved to Mrs Ray that I’m not a complete dipso; my liver had a rest and, thanks to my patent diet of homemade lentil soup followed by Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate (other fine chocolate is available), I’ve lost 12lb since New Year’s Eve.

Don’t laugh, it works. The soup is a doddle to make and gives me lunch for the week. Simply soften some chopped onion and celery in a whisper of olive oil; chuck in diced carrots, a bag of red split lentils, a tin of tomatoes, curry powder, paprika, Worcester sauce, a bay leaf and salt and pepper — then top up with boiling water and simmer for 90 minutes. And, as for the chocolate, I always crave it in January. I guess it replaces the sugar I’m missing from all that vino.

Anyway, the result is I’m feeling smug, slim — well, slimmer — and thirsty. Hurrah then for this delectable collection of southern Rhône wines I’ve selected from our chums at FromVineyardsDirect.

The 2017 Mas Carlot Blanc (1) is right up my street. A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier from the heart of Van Gogh country in the Costières de Nîmes, it’s dry but creamy, with hints of peach, honeysuckle and apricots. Natalie Blanc-Marès is widely regarded as one of the finest winemakers in the region and this is a steal. £10.45 down from £10.95.

The 2018 Domaine Les Grands Bois ‘Le Viognier’ (2) is from an estate that FVD’s Esme Johnstone found quite by chance while in a café in Cairanne.

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