We’re so nearly there. This time next month, groups of six will be able to dine the night away indoors and then, just five weeks later, we’ll be free. Hurrah! Happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again, dum-de-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum.
I simply cannot wait. I miss my mates, I miss the bottles we share and I miss the nonsense we spout as the dregs are drained and the kummel is unleashed.
Happily, our shackles are being shed just as we enjoy the most beautiful part of the year: spring, in all its hope-inducing glory. In other words, it’s prime rosé season and time for our annual offer from Le Roi de Rosé himself, Sacha Lichine, proprietor of everyone’s favourite pinkers: Whispering Angel.
WA is the flagship wine of Sacha’s Provencal estate, Ch. d’Esclans, which that canny fox, Esme Johnstone of FromVineyardsDirect, tasted quite by chance a dozen years ago and immediately snapped up. EJ has had first dibs ever since and Whispering Angel has gone on to stratospheric heights. Indeed, it’s now the biggest-selling French still wine in all America.
Luckily, we Brits still get our allocation and although you might see Whispering Angel in the supermarket/high street, we’re offering it and its siblings at very keen prices indeed and I doubt very much you would be able to track down the larger format bottles listed below. You certainly won’t find them any cheaper, since FVD ships direct from the château under the most favourable terms.
The 2020 The Palm (1) is Ch. d’Esclan’s entry-level wine and if you can get past its gopping French-hooker-boudoir packaging, you’ll love it. A typical blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, it’s a beguiling pale pink, ripe, juicy and ridiculously quaffable. It’s the quintessential vin de soif. £13.95 down from £14.95.
The 2020 Whispering Angel (2) is glorious and ready to drink the moment you get it. Again, it’s wonderfully pale but don’t let that mislead you into thinking it’s lacking in character. Far from it, for it’s beautifully poised with red Grenache and Cinsault combining perfectly with white Vermentino to give freshness, ripeness and creamy succulence. There are plenty of citrus and wild strawberry notes and it finishes refreshingly dry. £16.95 down from £18.95.
Oh and do take advantage of the fact that Esme has managed to get his hands on this beauty in magnums (3), double magnums (4), imperials (5), equivalent to eight standard bottles, and — yippee! — salmanazars (6), equivalent to a whole blooming case of 12 bottles. I simply cannot think of a better way of putting two fingers up to lockdown than by having everyone in your address book over for drinks and uncorking a brace or two of these.
The 2019 Rock Angel (7) is Whispering Angel’s bigger brother and has benefited greatly from its extra year in bottle, gaining flavour and complexity without any loss of freshness. A similar blend to Whispering Angel, it’s partially barrel-fermented and has weight, concentration and complexity backed by a commendably long fruity but dry finish. £23.50 down from £25.95.
Finally, the 2019 Garrus (8), which has some claim to be the finest of all the world’s rosés. That, certainly, is Sacha Lichine’s aim. Made from barrel-fermented, barrel-aged, old vine fruit from a single vineyard, it’s as serious as they come. It’s eye-wateringly pricy, yes, but so silky smooth and concentrated and so damn moreish that it’s impossible to ignore. Think of it in the same terms as fine vintage champagne or top white burgundy and it doesn’t seem unfairly priced at all. If you can afford it, grab it. £89.00 down from £95.00 or £85.00 if you buy six.
The mixed dozen has four bottles each of wines 1, 2 and 7 and delivery, as ever, is free.