Jonathan Ray Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 17 February

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.

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