Dry January must have heightened my senses. Or maybe I’m simply craving alcohol. Either way, I’m pretty chuffed with this week’s selection, courtesy of FromVineyardsDirect: six classic French wines. It took an age to whittle the wines down to six, largely because I felt compelled to drain every bottle. I’d hate you to think I was shirking my researches.
The 2016 Château Bauduc Sauvignon/Sémillon (1) will be familiar to diners at the restaurants of Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay, where it’s the house white. Produced by Gavin and Angela Quinney at their 200-acre estate in the Entre Deux Mers, it’s a blend of 70 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 30 per cent Sémillon. It’s crisp and dry but deliciously rounded in the mouth, slightly plump and with just a touch of softening sweet fruit on the finish. £9.45 down from £9.95.
I love the wines of the Rhône Valley, especially the whites of which so little are made. I could drink buckets of the 2017 Mas Carlot (2). Indeed, I demolished a bottle only last night with just the tiniest bit of help from Mrs Ray. A beautifully judged blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier produced just outside Nîmes by Natalie Blanc-Mares (generally acknowledged as the best winemaker in the region), it’s full of apricots, peaches and juicily ripe pears. It’s dry, though, but with a wonderful underlying creaminess, and I’m a complete sucker for it. £9.45 down from £9.95.
By contrast, the 2016 Mâcon-Uchizy, Vins des Chaponnières (3) is classic, unblended Chardonnay from the village of Uchizy in the heart of the Mâconnais in southern Burgundy. Decent burgundy can be offputtingly expensive and this is unexpectedly fine value. Fresh, crisp and vibrant but with a delicious, pure fruit succulence and fine mineral finish, it’s wonderfully approachable, in price as well as flavour. £11.95 down from £12.95.
The multi-award-winning 2014 Château Trillol (4) boasts an impeccable pedigree, owned as it is by the Sichel family. You know, the ones who own Château Angludet and have a share in Château Palmer. This isn’t a claret though, but a big, butch, robust red from high in the hills of Corbières in Cathar country. A blend of hand-picked Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, it’s crammed with rich, dark, concentrated fruit. There’s a touch of vanilla on the nose and a hint of pepper in the mouth, and if there’s a better partner to a steaming bowl of game stew I’d like to know about it. £12.95 down from £13.95.
The 2002 Château Louvie (5) is from a small parcel of wine that FVD ‘-intercepted’ (their words not mine; it wasn’t me guv, honest) and is available in lamentably small quantities (just 1,000 cases were made and only 50 remain). Snap it up if you can, for it’s absolutely spot on for drinking now. A fully mature blend of 80 per cent Merlot and 20 per cent Cabernet Franc from 40-year-old vines, it’s rich, ripe and juicy, and just so wonderfully mellow. It’s a Saint Emilion Grand Cru, for heaven’s sake, for less than 15 quid! £14.95 down from £15.95.
Finally, staying with the Right Bank of Bordeaux, we have the 2015 Saint Emilion de Quintus (6). I agonised about including this as we’ve offered it before (among a special selection of FVD’s so-called ‘defrocked’ wines) and it’s quite pricey, but I just couldn’t resist it. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from what was once called Château Tertre Daugay and is now known as Château Quintus (owned by the Château Haut--Brion stable), it’s lusciously, headily ripe and with the longest and most satisfying of finishes. It’s precociously drinkable but will last for yonks and, given its provenance, is actually something of a snip. £21.95 down from £22.95.
There is a mixed case with two of each bottle and delivery, as ever, is free.