Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 2 September

Wine Club 2 September
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So, that’s it then. Summer, I mean. It pushed off without ever having really arrived. There were some bizarrely scorching days in between the chill and the showers, it’s true, but I’ve barely worn my shorts, haven’t swum in the sea, only managed one day at the cricket and the lawn outside is as green as I’ve ever seen it at this time of year. Sigh.

These wines have been selected by with autumn in mind, albeit with the vain hope of an Indian summer. If it’s hot, chill the Languedoc Pinot Noir; if it ain’t, then relish its earthy autumnal qualities at room temp.

To the vino. I have always loved the white wines of the Rhône. They produce so little of them, they’re as quirky as anything and they’re ideal for those bored with the ubiquity of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The 2015 Domaine Les Grands Bois ‘Le Viognier’ (1), a white AOC Côtes du Rhône, is a joy. Robert Parker gave it 90 points, declaring it ‘maybe the finest value in Viognier I have ever tasted’. Although I don’t always agree with Uncle Bob, he’s spot on here. Made from a lot of Viognier and a little Grenache Blanc, it’s apricotty, peachy, creamy and floral with surprisingly fine acidity (which Viognier all too often lacks). It’s delicious. £10.45 down from £10.95.

The 2015 Clarendelle Bordeaux Blanc (2) is a dry white Bordeaux of quite some pedigree. A Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon blend with a tiny splash of Muscadelle, it’s made by the winemaking team of Château Haut-Brion no less, using fruit not only from CHB’s vineyards but also those of Château La Mission Haut-Brion. It has fabulous ripe fruit, great structure and remarkable (for the price) style. It’s citrusy, but there’s stone fruit in there too, and plenty of concentration. £15.95 down from £16.95.

Although seemingly a typical Provençal rosé, the 2016 Pezat Rosé (3) comes from Bordeaux, produced by the mighty Jonathan Maltus OBE, the maverick English winemaker behind St Emilion such as Châteaux Teyssier, Laforge and the cult Le Dôme. A blend of 60 per cent Cabernet Franc, 30 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 per cent Merlot, it’s what JM terms ‘glitter pink’ and is gloriously fresh, vibrant and succulent. About as good as rosé gets for under a tenner. £9.45 down from £9.95.

The 2015 Ripaille Pinot Noir (4) is new to and it comes from the Languedoc rather than Burgundy. It’s produced by Bruno Lafon (a Burgundian) and François Chamboissier (a Bordelais) from sites in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and it’s a cracker: soft and smooth, with sour cherry notes, blackberries, mulberries and earthiness on the finish. £10.45 down from £10.95.

The 2015 Clos d’Alzan Signargues Côtes du Rhône Villages (5) is a perfect everyday Côtes du Rhône from a stellar vintage. Produced by Michel Collomb in Signargues (one of the 16 villages in the southern Rhône accorded Côtes du Rhône Villages status), it’s a single vineyard wine of real oomph blended from Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. There’s plenty of pepper’n’spice in the mix, buckets of rich, ripe dark fruit and a wonderfully long finish. It’s perfect autumn fare. £10.45 down from £10.95.

Finally, the 2012 Clarendelle Bordeaux Rouge (6) which boasts the same immaculate provenance as its sibling above. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from a great vintage, drawn from the vineyards of Châteaux Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Quintus, it’s absolutely à point, being mouth-fillingly rich, ripe and concentrated. It’s full-flavoured and forward and, with only 45 cases available at, in seriously short supply. £15.95 down from £16.95.

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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