Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 11 July

Wine Club 11 July
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Lockdown is easing at last. Hoo-blooming-rah! Being the pessimistic optimist that I am, though, I know it’ll only be a day or two before the mother of all spikes appears to spoil our fun. But, heck, until such time, I’m going to celebrate long and hard. Come and join me and don’t forgetthe corkscrew!

We’re off to Spain and Portugal for our first ever all-Iberian offer, courtesy of Honest Grapes, the founders of which — step forward Tom Harrow and Nathan Hill — know the peninsula as intimately as I now know daytime TV schedules and Deliveroo menus.

The 2019 Quinta Das Maias Branco (1) is a Malvasia/Encruzado blend from a 130-year-old organic estate in the foothills of the Serra da Estrela in the Dão region of central north-west Portugal. It’s fresh, lemony and floral and makes a fascinating alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. £11.00 down from £12.00.

From Terra Alta, north-east Spain, the 2017 Celler Alimara Llumi Blanc (2) is a deliciously appealing blend of Grenache Blanc and Macabeo. If you like white Rhônes, as I do, you’ll love it. It’s fresh, citrusy, peachy and slightly creamy with perfect acidity and a clean, dry finish. £11.10 down from £12.10.

The 2018 Lavradores de Feitoria Rosé (3) comes from Portugal’s River Douro, the river of gold itself. A deep reddish pink, it’s made from Touriga Franca plus, I gather, a splash of one or two other local varieties. It’s deliciously floral on the nose (think rose petals) with plenty of wild strawberries and hedgerow fruit on the palate too. £12.10 down from £13.10.

From Spain’s Rioja Alta, the pale salmon pink 2018 La Cuna de la Poesia Rosado (4) is an extremely sophisticated rosé to rival any from Provence. Made from 100 per cent Grenache, it has plenty of wild berry fruit on the palate yet finishes crisp, clean and dry. £13.70 down from £14.70.

From Bierzo in the far north-west of Spain, bang on the Camino de Santiago, we’ve the 2018 Puerto del Monte (5) made from old bush vine Mencía. Rich, dark and concentrated, it’s full of black cherry fruit and spice and boasts the most succulent of finishes. £11.30 down from £12.30.

The 2017 Prazo de Roriz (6) from the port-making vineyards of the Douro Valley has an impeccable pedigree, being part of the joint project between the Symington family (owners of such fabled port houses as Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Graham’s, Warre’s) and Bruno Prats (of Ch. Cos d’Estournel fame). It’s fresh and fruity with great depth and intensity, as you might expect given that the grapes used are those that make the finest ports. £12.80 down from £13.80.

Not that our offer ends there, oh no. One can’t go to Spain and Portugal and not grab some fine sherry and port, so I persuaded Messrs Harrow and Hill to put their backs into it and come up with a special bonus selection and, well, crikey, they’ve only gone and done it. From the 190-year-old family-owned bodega of El Maestro Sierra, they’ve sourced a bone dry, exhilaratingly refreshing Fino, a rich, concentrated yet dry Oloroso, and a gloopy, tongue-coatingly sweet and absurdly moreish Pedro Ximenez that’s as fine as I’ve ever tasted.

To complement these, we’ve the impeccable Graham’s Fine White Port (delicious on its own or half and half with tonic, ice and slice); the gloriously nutty, honeyed, raisiny Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny (no need to decant) and the richly fruity 2015 Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage. Sherries and ports are ridiculously undervalued and yet are the most versatile of wines. This is a cracking selection and I trust you’ll fill your boots.

The mixed dozen has two bottles of each unfortified wine and the mixed half dozen has one bottle of each of the fortified wines. Delivery, as ever, is free.


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