Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 29 October

Wine Club 29 October
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We’re not due a Wine Club offering in the magazine until next week, but so good were the wines that I tasted recently with-FromVineyardsDirect

.com that we just had to include them so that readers might join in the fun. It’s an entirely French line-up, ideal for autumn. And despite the plunging pound and the fact that the wines were very decently priced in the first place, we even squeezed a bit of a discount out of Esme Johnstone and his gang, for which we’re very grateful.

The 2014 Clotilde Davenne Sauvignon de Saint Bris (1) is a delightful curiosity, a Sauvignon Blanc from Burgundy in what is really Chardonnay country. Clotilde Davenne does indeed make a delicious white Burgundy but this, produced in the tiny Appellation Contrôlée area of Saint Bris on the very edges of Chablis, is 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, cold-fermented and with no hint of oak. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing, with a strong herbal character, a touch of gooseberry and a keen acidity. £11.95 down from £12.95.

If true Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc is your thing, though, then the 2015 Domaine de l’Ermitage Menetou-Salon (2) will be right up your cup of tea. Again, it’s 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and very well priced compared to Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé of similar quality. Indeed, I’ve never understood why Menetou-Salon doesn’t get the same acclaim as those two. This example is a peach and where the Sauvignon Saint Bris is perhaps a little restrained and reserved, this is more expressive and expansive, with enticing hints of tropical fruit and a deeply satisfying underlying freshness. They’ve been making wine on this estate for almost 500 years and I think it’s fair to say that they’ve pretty much cracked it by now. They must have, for this very wine won gold at the recent Decanter World Wine Awards. £13.45 down from £13.95.

The wines of Beaujolais are having a welcome renaissance and are as good as they’ve ever been. Certainly, the 2014 Domaine Hospices de Beaujeu Morgon (3), is spot on, as full of juicy, bramble fruit on the palate as it is on the nose. All too often in the past I’ve been disappointed with wines from the region that promise much at first sniff but let you down at first sip. They’re like freshly ground coffee, which never tastes as good as it smells. This, though, is gloriously fruity and succulent. It’s dry, of course, but with a touch of sweetness on the edge and an almost thirst-quenchingly fine finish. £12.45 down from £12.95.

And so to three perfectly mature clarets. The 2010 Château Jos Grande Cuvée (4) is an equal blend of organically farmed Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from a ten-out-of-ten vintage and ridiculously underpriced. It’s plump, generous and giving, with plenty of soft, ripe fruit and a classy Bordeaux finish. If sub-£10 French wines were always like this, I wouldn’t buy wine from anywhere else. It’s really cracking value. £9.95 down from £10.95.

The 2010 Château Sénilhac (5) is a Haut-Médoc of great style and absolutely ready to drink. It would certainly keep until next Christmas but I’d suggest getting stuck straight in. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc aged in French oak for 12 months, it’s quintessential-claret — soft, smooth and sophisticated. Bung it in a decanter or carafe and let it really show off. £13.25 down from £13.95.

Finally, the 2008 L’Autre de Sociando-Mallet (6), made from grapes grown in the vineyards of mighty Château Sociando-Mallet, the cult Cru Bourgeois of the Haut-Médoc. The estate’s official second wine is La Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet but this is certainly of equal quality, a wine first created in 2003 and reserved ever since for the top restaurants of France. I’ve no idea how FVD got their mitts on it but full marks for doing so — it’s a belter. Don’t keep it, just drink it. £16.45 down from £16.95.

The mixed case costs £155 and 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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