Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 20 January

Wine Club 20 January
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Well, I don’t know about you but I found the recent festivities somewhat challenging. I didn’t draw a sober breath between 8 November and New Year’s Day which, as my wife Marina kindly pointed out, was neither big nor clever. She’s no slouch herself when the corks are popping so for her to call me a lush is a bit rich, but I took her point and hopped meekly on the water wagon on 1 January.

As the days of sobriety turned to weeks I began to feel rather smug, especially since so many mates fell by the wayside. One chum lasted all of two days; another barely a week until a bottle of fine Beaujolais undid her; and a third told me that far from drying out he felt obliged to drink for two since his wife had done the giving up for him.

And so here we are in week three and I’m clinging on by my fingertips. My initial smugness has turned to a raging thirst and all I can think about are the treats I have in store come February. It pays to plan ahead, you see, in order to hit the ground running and so it is that I commend this very special offer to you.

Our partners at Mr Wheeler have offered the wines of Domaine de la Jasse before; they promptly sold out. On this occasion, though, they are offering two of the Domaine’s wines before they have even been bottled, at bargain prices. There really is no better chance to fill your boots.

Domaine de la Jasse lies around 15km from Montpellier in the heart of the Languedoc and its name comes from the shelter and the shade (known in the local dialect as jasse) provided by the estate’s century-old plane tree.

The winemaker is the celebrated Bruno le Breton and he is assisted by no less a figure than Patrick Léon, the former winemaker at Château Mouton-Rothschild. These two mavericks decline to follow the restrictions of the local appellation’s regulations, preferring instead the freedom provided by the wider, less stringent, Vin de Pays d’Oc rules. These allow them to use unsanctioned varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as approved ones such as Syrah and Grenache.

Plenty of sun, perfect soils and aspect, old, organically farmed vines and immaculate winemaking all result in stupendously fine, ridiculously underpriced wines. The 2016 Barrique Blanc de la Jasse (1) is as fine and classic a Chardonnay as you will find outside Burgundy.

It’s citrus fresh, but nutty and lightly honeyed too, with excellent length and is gratifyingly fulsome on the palate. There’s a whisper of vanilla thanks to its being kept for eight months in French oak barriques, but this is beautifully in check and doesn’t come close to overwhelming the gloriously ripe fruit. I reckon it’s an absolute belter, especially at just £9.75 a bottle.

The 2015 Vieilles Vignes Rouge de la Jasse (2) is the estate’s ‘flagship’ wine and an utter beauty. 2015 was a perfect vintage here — judged to be one of the finest in the past half century — with scorching sun tempered by just the right amount of rain. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (lots) and Merlot (a bit), it’s rich, ripe, plummy, spicy and chocolatey, with plenty of dense blackcurrants, hints of vanilla and cedar and an achingly long finish. At just £10.25 a bottle it’s a blooming steal.

If you buy two cases it goes down to £9.50 and you get a free magnum lobbed in too. Buy four cases and it’s £9.25 with two free magnums; buy eight cases and it’s an absurd £9.00 with four free magnums. In other words, it’s ideal for those of us about to hurl ourselves off the wretched wagon.

The mixed case (£129) has six bottles of both wines and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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