My old mate Jason Yapp was chirpier than ever when we met to taste his wines the other day. Never knowingly under-ebullient, Jas (despite the whisperings of a hangover) had an extra spring to his step having just bagged three gongs at the previous night’s International Wine Challenge, namely that of Rhône Specialist Wine Merchant of the Year and ditto for both the Loire and Languedoc-Roussillon. We tried some delicious wines together and these six were my favourites, all ideal for mid-summer sipping.
The 2017 Domaine l’Ancienne Cure (1) is an organically farmed, un-oaked blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon from Bergerac, south west France. Bergerac can be a pretty variable appellation in my view but this is a little beauty — fresh, fruity and dry with a gentle touch of citrus — and is what Jason likes to call ‘vif’. It’s also what he likes to drink by the bucket-load at his pad in the Dordogne and I can quite see why. £11.95 down from £12.95.
The 2016 Willems-Willems Saar ‘Schiefer’ Riesling (2) from the vertiginous vineyards of the Saar River in Germany is deliciously crisp, keen and refreshing, and bottled under screwcap to conserve its nervy, citrus-edged fruit. German wines are finally getting the attention they deserve with numerous by-the-glass listings in the hip restaurants and bars of Shoreditch and Soho, and this would do credit to any such a list. £14.50 down from £15.50.
The 2017 Domaine de Chinière Rosé (3) from Saint-Pourçain in the Auvergne is as close to Burgundy and the Rhône as it is to the Loire, but it’s to the Loire that the region is inevitably linked thanks to it lying on a tributary of the mighty Loire river itself. In their mediaeval heyday, the wines of Saint-Pourçain were considered to be the finest in France, beloved of kings and nobility, but they are now little known. Shame, for this 100 per cent Gamay, the palest of pale pinks, is delectably refreshing with hints of red currants, raspberries and wild strawberries. £9.95 down from £10.95.
The 2010 Marqués de Zearra Rioja Crianza (4) was discovered by Jason’s step-brother and co-director, Tom Ashworth, during a visit to Barcelona and marks Yapp Brothers’ first foray into Spain. And what a successful cross-border raiding party it was too, for this deftly oaked, 100 per cent Tempranillo is a joy to drink. It’s jam-packed with rich, lusciously juicy dark fruit and, with a nice amount of bottle age, is almost impossible to resist. £9.95 down from £10.95.
The 2016 Arnaud Aucoeur Beaujolais Villages ‘Vieilles Vignes’ (5) shows how far dear old Bojolly has come. For too long the area was a byword for lacklustre wines and lazy winemaking but now, as the wines of the Côte d’Or hit stratospheric prices, so the winemakers of Beaujolais have upped their game and canny drink lovers have come flocking. This is succulent and moreish, full of ripe bramble fruit and best enjoyed after a brief stint in ice bucket or fridge. £10.50 down from £11.50.
Finally, the 2016 Domaine des Rebouls (6) produced by Jean-Luc Astruc in the rugby-obsessed hill village of Tuchan in Fitou, Languedoc-Roussillon. There’s no shortage of dull, dreary wine in Fitou and it took Yapps an age to find one they like, and they — and I — love this. A densely textured, richly flavoured blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, it’s full of spice, power and character and although in fine nick could easily cope with another couple of years’ ageing. £12.25 down from £13.25
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.