Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 21 January

Wine Club 21 January
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I don’t know about you but my cellar took a pounding over Christmas and on New Year’s Eve. Yes, yes, I know it’s only a cobwebbed cupboard under the stairs. The point is that it’s all but empty apart from a few corks, some half-drunk vermouth, a shattered decanter, a bottle of Bailey’s (where did that come from?) and the faint whiff of cordite. I’ve an urgent need to regroup.

Thank heaven, then, for Yapp Bros and this timely selection. It didn’t take Jason Yapp and me long to agree that we should look no further than the Loire for this offer. 2015 was a cracking vintage in the Loire Valley, which remains a happy hunting ground for lovers of aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc and cool-climate Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.

Such wines represent fantastic value for money compared with the more rarefied output of Bordeaux and Burgundy, especially in a touchstone vintage like 2015, and with the Yapp boys the current holders of the highly prized International Wine Challenge ‘Loire Merchant of the Year’ award, we have some real treats here, each one a quid cheaper than it is on the Yapps’ list.

We’ve offered previous vintages of the 2015 Domaine de la Mortaine Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie (1), and this incarnation is better than ever. It’s crisp, clean and lemony, and surprisingly full of character after time spent on the lees. It has plenty of oomph as well and what Jason likes to refer to as ozone freshness. The Quentin Blake label is jolly, too. £9.40 down from £10.40.

The 2015 Saint-Pourçain ‘Cuvée Printanière’ (2) from the Unions des Vignerons in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule in the Auvergne, on the edges of the Loire, is a tasty blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Aligoté and local Trésallier (nope, nor me). It’s light and fresh and makes an invigorating aperitif. £9.40 down from £10.40.

The 2015 Domaine Aubert Vouvray Sec (3) from Jean-Claude (father) and Didier (son) Aubert will delight lovers of classic Loire Valley Chenin Blanc. With a rounded texture, fresh apple flavours and traces of honey, this is a charmer. It has decent weight, too, after a winter on its lees. I loved it. £12.10 down from £13.10.

The 2015 Saumur Rouge (4) is an old favourite of ours and the ‘Charles de Gaulle’ label, designed by Jason Yapp’s partner, Pippa Goldfinger, will be familiar to many. An unblended Cabernet Franc from the excellent Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg co-operative, it’s one of those rare reds that’s perfectly gluggable on its own. It’s crammed with ripe fruit and has a welcome savoury note on the finish. I’d say it’s pretty much impossible not to enjoy. £9.40 down from £10.40.

The wines of Saint-Nicolas-de--Bourgueil were first developed by the Benedictines at Bourgueil Abbey almost a thousand years ago and the 2015 Saint-Nicolas-de--Bourgueil ‘L’Expression’ (5), from the exotically named Domaine Taluau & Foltzenlogel, is a juicy unblended Cabernet Franc. With charming floral notes on the nose and plenty of peppery — even slightly inky — red berry fruit on the palate, and gentle tannins, it slips down gratifyingly easily. £12.10 down from £13.10.

Finally, the 2015 Menetou-Salon Rouge, Domaine Jean Teiller (6), a vibrant 100 per cent Pinot Noir of real freshness and style. The delightful Patricia Teiller brought a previous vintage of this comparative rarity to the Spectator Winemaker Lunch she kindly hosted a few months ago in our boardroom, and all of us round the table were as smitten with the wine as we were with Patricia. It’s fresh and elegant, bursting with ripe cherries and blueberries, and as tasty served lightly chilled with pan-fried tuna as it is at room temperature with grilled lamb chops. £13.90 down from £14.90.

The generously discounted 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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