Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 18 February

Wine Club 18 February
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Tanners have been around since 1842 and certainly know their onions. Both Decanter and the International Wine Challenge named them ‘Large Independent Wine Retailer of the Year’ in 2016. I mean to say, how lucky are we to have them as one of The Spectator’s partners?

Their sales director, Robert Boutflower, put together a list of typically quirky wines, any one of which I would have been happy to recommend. The final six more than pass muster. Added to which, RB was magnanimity itself and tossed in some tasty discounts, with the mixed case just £108.

The 2015 La Petite Vigne Viognier (1) comes from near Carcassonne and the Foncalieu co-operative, which boasts some 1,000 growers, drawn from all corners of the Languedoc, Gascony and the Rhône. Quality of fruit is everything and where sometimes Viognier can be over-the-top, blowsy and — I hate to be rude — flabby, this is spot on, with delicate peach and apricot notes, a perfectly judged acidity and a crisp clean finish. It’s ridiculously cheap, too, at £6.95 down from £7.95.

The 2016 Château de Tiregand (2) is a deliciously aromatic blend of Sauvignon Blanc (80 per cent) and Sémillon (20 per cent) from Bergerac, east of Bordeaux in the Dordogne. Château de Tiregand was said to have been founded in the 13th century by Edward Tyrgan, bastard son of England’s King Edward III, and today it’s owned by the Saint-Exupéry family, cousins of Antoine, the celebrated aviator and author of Le Petit Prince. The wine is fresh and enticing with typical grassy Sauvignon notes with added creamy weight thanks to the Sémillon. £8.00 down from £8.80.

If New, rather than Old, World Sauvignon is your thing, the 2016 Cucao Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (3) should suit you perfectly. It comes from the Colchagua Valley, blessed with long, hot summer days tempered by mountain and sea breezes. Full of fresh herbs, cut grass and tropical fruit, this Reserva sits somewhere between the Loire Valley and Marlborough, New Zealand, in style — slightly more expressive than the former and slightly less exuberant than the latter. I loved it. £9.00 down from £9.80.

The 2015 La Jeanette, Gonnet Rhône Selection (4) from Ventoux is a succulent, lusciously fruity and peppery blend of 60 per cent Grenache and 40 per cent Syrah from Etienne Gonnet, best known for his Domaine Font de Michelle in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Gonnets have been making wine here since 1600 and Etienne puts as much care into this little beauty as he does into his top-end vino. Those who bought the 2015 Tanners Rhône Valley Red in November will lap it up. £9.00 down from £9.90.

The 2015 Prado Rey Tinto Roble (5) from the Ribera del Duero is a feisty, spicy, cherry-ripe, barrel-aged Tempranillo with just the tiniest drops of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot added to give character and plumpness. The estate is the largest in northern Spain and, thanks to recent huge investment, is now state-of-the-art with its own hydroelectric plant, solar farm and so on. No expense is spared with the wines and this makes for a very sophisticated glassful indeed. £9.90 down from £10.90.

Finally, the scrumptious 2014 Trentham Estate Pinot Noir (6) from the Murray River, Victoria, Australia. The Murphy family emigrated from Ireland in the 1900s, were among the first to plant vines in Mildura and have been making wine here ever since. Current winemaker Anthony Murphy loves his Pinot and this example is delectably smooth and tasty, full of plums, cherries and spice. It’s fruity for sure, but there’s a welcome savoury note too and smooth, supple tannins. Aussie Pinot Noir can often be too in-your-face and too pricey. This is neither, it’s just lovely. £11.50 down from £12.20.

The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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