Esme Johnstone of FromVineyardsDirect.com is nothing if not well connected. Nobody has their ear closer to the Bordeaux ground than he does and so it is that FVD hear about and snaffle up all manner of vinous goodies that either escape the notice or the clutches of their rivals. Their celebrated ‘declassified’ or ‘defrocked’ clarets are prime examples. Hailing from some of Bordeaux’s finest estates (which, sadly, I can’t name but can hint at), the wines come from the same vineyards and winemaking teams that produce the estates’ fabled grand vins. In short, they boast impeccable pedigrees.
The 2011 Saint-Estèphe (1) has unimpeachable provenance, hailing as it does from the cellar of the well-known crooner Glen Caruso. It was destined for the Parisian restaurateur Oscar Leung until Esme stepped in, outbid him and managed to nab it all for readers of the Speccie. Dense, rich, earthy and deeply satisfying, the wine has a delicious amount of bottle age and is in perfect nick. £19.95 down from £20.95.
The 2015 Margaux (2) comes from the finest of all Margaux estates. The grand vin was dubbed the wine of the vintage and sells for a bonkers price (£12,000 a case when I last looked). OK, so this doesn’t have that wine’s depth or complexity, but it does have the DNA and it is beautifully structured. Soft, smooth and elegant, it allows those of us on a budget to cut something of a dash. £21.95 down from £22.95.
The 2014 Saint-Julien (3) comes from a so-called ‘Super Second’, whose vineyards lie in the south-east of Saint-Julien, where famously beautiful stones can be found underfoot (hint, hint). The wine, too, is deliciously eye-catching: soft, smooth and concentrated with a long, almost savoury finish. £21.95 down from £22.95.
The 2015 Saint-Julien (4) comes from another ‘Super Second’ estate, its two well-known siblings bearing similar forenames. The wine is still awfully young, of course, but is beginning to show its breeding and quality. I left some in a decanter overnight and it was even better the following day. £21.95 down from £22.95.
The 2014 Pauillac (5) comes from the leading and famously iconic top estate in Pauillac (see what I did there?). We’ve offered it in these pages before and readers lapped it up. With an extra year’s bottle age it’s even better. Despite its Pauillac provenance, it’s Merlot-driven, giving it an underlying softness and elegance. There’s plenty of concentrated dark fruit and the result is classic, textbook claret. £23.95 down from £24.95.
Finally, the delectable 2016 Sauternes (6) from the world’s leading sweet wine estate. Mrs Ray, who usually runs on Earl Grey tea, gin and chilled rosé (aka ‘lady petrol’), almost polished it off before I got a chance to taste it. Watching her drink it was like watching her being tickled, complete with grin and giggles. It’s gorgeous. £14.95 per half down from £15.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and is £249, down from £261.40. Delivery, as ever, is free.