My old chum Jason Yapp is never less than chipper. Indeed, his ebullience is boundless. In springtime, this innate effervescence fair bubbles over and his enthusiasm for his wines and his distaste for spittoons are dangerously infectious. It took an age to whittle this selection down to six and I trust you enjoy my choices as much as I did and do.
The 2017 Saint-Pourçain ‘Cuvée Printan-ière’ (1) comes from the upper Loire Valley and, in typical regional French style, there’s bugger all information on the front label and no label on the back to speak of. It’s only because JY insisted on wafting it under my beak and wouldn’t take no for an answer that I took any interest at all. I’m glad I did, for it’s delightfully crisp, clean, fresh and citrussy. Produced by the commendable local co-operative, it’s a blend of Chardonnay and Trésallier (don’t be daft, I’d not heard of it either) and makes a perfect springtime aperitif. £10.15 down from £11.15.
There are slim pickings these days for burgundy lovers in the sub-£15 price range, which makes the 2017 Bourgogne Chardonnay ‘Closerie des Alisiers’ (2) a happy rarity: quality hooch for precious little do-re-mi. Produced by the highly regarded négociant Stéphane Brocard (whose stunning £40 Meursault on Yapps’ list will appeal to those far better-heeled than me), it has won a chestful of wine competition medals. Unoaked, it’s apple-fresh, clean and zesty and very, very well made. £13.25 down from £14.25.
The 2017 Weisser Burgunder Trocken (3) from Jürgen Hofman in the Rheinhessen is right up my street. One of the rare non-French wines on Yapps’ list, it’s so immediately appealing that I just wanted to run away with it. Made from what the French called Pinot Blanc, it’s fermented largely in stainless steel (with just a touch fermented in oak barrels for added texture) and bottled under screwcap for extra freshness. It’s charmingly aromatic, low in alcohol (just 12% volume) and full of white stone fruit, apple and pear flavours with a faintly creamy finish. I love it and just wish that well-made German wines such as this were better-regarded. £13.50 down from £14.50.
The 2016 ‘Basalte’ Syrah (4) from the Vignerons Ardèchois co-operative in south-east France is a strictly limited cuvée made from 100 per cent Syrah. Grown on the volcanic basalt rock of the Coiron mountains (I know, me too, I had to look them up), it’s spicy, fruity, soft and mellow with very gentle tannins and no shortage of weight and body. It’s hard to see what’s not to like. £10.95 down from £11.95.
If you don’t mind paying a couple of quid more for your Syrah, then snaffle the 2016 Mon Coeur Côtes du Rhône, JL Chave Séléction (5). Jean-Louis Chave is a name to conjure with in the northern Rhône. His family has made wine in the region, father to son, since 1481 — just saying — and he’s especially celebrated for his remarkable Hermitage wines. This entry-level blend of Syrah and Grenache gives Rhône lovers an ideal opportunity to indulge in some of the Chave stardust without breaking the bank. It’s immaculately well made from small plots of old vines and is now my ‘go-to’ house red of choice. £13.95 down from £14.95.
And talking of the Rhône, the 2016 Domaine de Fa Beaujolais ‘En Besset’ (6) might come from Beaujolais, but it’s made by two northern Rhône brothers: Antoine and Maxime Graillot, sons of the legendary Alain of that ilk. Made from 100 per cent Gamay from the small single vineyard of En Besset (on the borders of Saint Amour and Juliénas), it’s lusciously fruity with rich bramble jam flavours, fine acidity and a disarming drink-ability. One sip and you will understand immediately why the French speak of the plaisirof Beaujolais. £14.95 down from £15.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.