Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 12 May

Wine Club 12 May
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Spring is definitely here, in all its capricious glory, and, in cahoots with FromVineyardsDirect, we’ve selected six wines — all from France — with which to enjoy its many moods.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve recommended the 2014 Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne (1), both here and elsewhere. It’s one of the best sparkling wines for the price that you will find anywhere. I featured it recently at a tasting of sparkling wine and Grandes Marques champagnes and it was voted the star of the show.

Produced using the champagne method by the Cave de Lugny co-operative in Burgundy, it’s a classic blend of handpicked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, cool-fermented in steel. Some of the Chardonnay is aged in oak before blending, after which the entire cuvée ages for another 18 months. It’s impeccable and I’ve had many champagnes at twice the price which taste only half as good. £14.95 down from £15.95.

The 2016 Rive Droite, Rive Gauche, Côtes du Rhône (2) is right up my street and I trust yours too. There are so few white Rhônes around but they’re so quirky and tasty they’re worth hunting for. This beauty is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc, produced by the excellent Vignerons d’Estézargues, not far from Avignon. It’s full and creamy in the mouth with honeysuckle, citrus notes and peaches on nose and palate. At less than a tenner, it’s cracking value. £9.45 down from £9.95.

If you fancy another non-Chardonnay/non-Sauvignon Blanc, make a beeline for the single vineyard 2016 Bernard Fouquet ‘Le Marigny’ Vouvray Sec (3) from the Loire. Chenin Blanc is all-too easily overlooked, maybe because the cheap stuff just isn’t that good. In the right hands, though, as here, the grape really sings.

Crisp, clean and fresh with hints of baked apples, stone fruit and honey, it’s dry on the finish and — thanks to time spent in oak — has just the faintest whisper of vanilla. £13.45 down from £14.45.

A staple of FVD, we’ve offered previous vintages of the 2017 Mas de Cadenet ‘Sainte Victoire’ Rosé (4) here countless times and whenever we don’t, I get stick. So, without any excuse, herewith the latest vintage of this fabulous organic rosé from the Côtes de Provence. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, it’s a ridiculously appealing pale, pale pink and is marked by weighty wild strawberry fruit and delicate hints of pepper and spice. It’s what late spring/early summer is all about. £12.45 down from £12.95.

The 2015 Vintage Claret (5) is FVD’s current house claret and has had almost a year’s extra bottle age since we last offered it here. This has only served to make it even more toothsome. Made by Jonathan Maltus — proprietor/winemaker of Le Dôme and Ch. Teyssier and proud recipient not only of an OBE but also a 100-point score from Robert Parker — it’s a Merlot-based blend full of soft, ripe, succulent fruit from a cracking year. You simply can’t go wrong with this. £10.95 down from £11.95.

I’m not sure how FVD’s Esme Johnstone does it, but he’s brilliant at unearthing little parcels of fully mature, well-priced clarets that other merchants somehow miss. The 2008 Ch. Marcillac (6) from the Côtes de Bourg is just such a wine. A fully mature claret from a fine vintage, it was pounced upon by the restaurateurs of Paris and Bordeaux allowing Esme to snaffle what few cases were left. It’s ripe but mellow with an attractive earthiness and savoury spice. I wouldn’t hang on to it for too long but it’s certainly spot-on for drinking over the next six months or so. £11.95 down from £12.95

The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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