After the debacle of my crash landing at The Griffin the other week, Mrs Ray has been keeping a frustratingly close eye on me and I’ve been forced to take it easy. It turns out that I’m on some sort of probation and spend much of my time on the naughty step alongside No. 2 son, banished thither for too much cocktail-making and too little A-level swotting.
We keep our spirits up by discussing what we’re going to do once his wretched exams and this ghastly lockdown are both over. Next week can’t come soon enough for either of us and we have big plans. Big plans.
It’s brilliant timing, then, for this peach of an offer from our chums at Mr Wheeler. We’ve offered the wines of Domaine de la Jasse before and readers greedily hoovered them up. Never before have we offered them so opportunely, though — mouth-fillingly tasty and modestly priced, they are all absolutely perfect for longed-for summer gatherings with much-missed mates.
The Domaine is a 30-minute drive from Montpellier in the depths of the Languedoc, the go-to region for lovers of wine with character that don’t cost a bomb. Bruno Le Breton is head honcho and although he eschews his local appellation’s regulations — thus allowing him to grow and make what he wants, how he wants — he runs the estate according to strict organic principles.
The 2020 Blanc de Blancs de la Jasse (1) is a real crowd-pleaser, being a neatly judged blend of unoaked Viognier and Chardonnay. It’s fresh, lively and fruity, with zesty citrus and creamy peach and it finishes faultlessly dry. It certainly makes a very genial aperitif. £9.95 down from £12.95.
The 2019 Barrique Blanc de la Jasse (2) comes from vineyards in Limoux (which you’ll know for its sparkling Blanquette de Limoux) and is made from barrel-aged Chardonnay. It has weight but it has freshness too along with hints of nuts, honey and toast. Compared with equivalent quality white burgundy, it’s a steal. £10.95 down from £13.95.
The 2020 Rosé Coeur de Cuvée de la Jasse (3) is disarmingly appealing and resolutely Provençal in both colour and style. Produced from the very gentle first pressing of handpicked Grenache and Syrah, it’s light, delicate, fresh, spicy and full of ripe summer berry fruit. £9.95 down from £12.95.
The 2018 Vieilles Vignes Rouge de la Jasse (4) is an old vine (35 years plus) Cabernet/Merlot blend that’s astounding value at less than £11 a pop. With cassis notes, cedarwood, liquorice, spice and rich, ripe plums and cherries it’s both concentrated and complex and endlessly satisfying. £10.95 down from £13.95.
Finally, the 2018 ‘Black Label’ Tête de Cuvée Rouge de la Jasse (5), made from 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Handpicked from the choicest vineyard plots and aged in large oak barriques for 12 months, it’s full of dark cherry, luscious blackcurrant, herbs and warming spice. It’s delightfully rewarding and, if decanted and allowed to show off a bit, really would pass for something far pricier and grander. £12.95 down from £15.95.
These are lovely, extremely fairly priced wines, ideal for the picnics and barbecues of summer and spot on for those of us gagging for the end of lockdown and the chance to invite everyone we can possibly think of to join us in drinking heartily and hugging our — and everyone else’s — socks off.
In the unlikely event that you need a nudge, Mr W’s chairman Johnny Wheeler proves that he’s a complete pushover by generously offering a magnum of 2018 ‘Black Label’ worth £32.95 to anyone buying any three cases and an even more handsome jeroboam of the same (worth £69) to anyone buying any five cases. Go on, buy big and drink deep!
The mixed dozen has two bottles each of wines 1-3 and three bottles each of wines 4 and 5. Delivery, as ever, is free.