Jonathan Ray Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 17 March

Esme Johnstone, the genial boss of FromVineyardsDirect, is the past master at rootling out tasty little parcels of this and that and at unearthing vinous treats from past vintages. I’m delighted to say he’s done it again this week with six very stylish French wines including two fully mature, extremely well-priced clarets and one steal of a Bergerac. There’s much to enjoy here, so fill your boots!

The 2016 Château Virgile Blanc (1) comes from Costières de Nîmes in the Gard, where they’ve been making wine for over 2,000 years. The estate of Château Virgile itself dates from the 18th century and is home to brothers Serge and Thierry Baret, producers of wines that offer what Robert Parker calls ‘mind-boggling value’. For once, it’s hard to disagree with Uncle Bob for this little gem — blended from Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier — is a complete joy. Delightfully aromatic (think lemons, pears, peaches and apricots), it’s fresh and lively, with a fine mineral finish and a very modest price. £8.25 down from £8.65.

The Graves in Bordeaux is rarely my go-to place when it comes to decent white wine. Not that there aren’t great wines made there, of course — it’s just that they rarely catch my eye and when they do, they prove to be more than a little bland and uninteresting. The 2016 Château Les Clauzots (2), however, is a glorious exception. Made from 70 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, 20 per cent Sémillon and 10 per cent Sauvignon Gris (and that’s not a grape you see very often), it’s lemony-fresh with hints of grapefruit and peach and a long, creamy, dry finish. £12.95 down from £13.95.

The 2016 Les Loges Vieilles Vignes Montagny 1er Cru (2) is an instantly appealing white burgundy of quite some panache produced at the highly regarded, 120 families-strong, Vignerons de Buxy co-operative in the Côte Chalonnaise.

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