These are strange days indeed and Mrs Ray and I are positively hoovering through the vino. Thanks heavens, then, that independent wine merchants are still delivering. They are nothing less than the fourth emergency service and I give them a hearty hip, hip, hurrah.
And enormous thanks, too, to Esme Johnstone of FromVineyardsDirect. So tasty and wide was the selection that he sent me that it was the devil’s own job to make my choices. Still, there are worse ways to spend my isolation than getting gently sozzled on readers’ behalf. I’d hate my work to be wasted though, so do stock up on this deliberately large, bumper offer.
The 2019 Racine Picpoul de Pinet (1) is spot on. Crisp, clean and lively, it makes the perfect springtime aperitif and, blessed with a screwcap, can be opened in a trice whenever thirst strikes. £10.45 down from £10.95.
The 2016 Domaine du Bicheron Mâcon-Péronne, Cuvée Vieilles Vignes (2) is FVD’s best-selling Burgundy and it’s easy to see why. It sees no oak at all and is fresh, vibrant and lightly honeyed, with weighty, concentrated fruit and a tight mineral core. It really is very fine. £11.95 down from £12.95.
The 2018 Bernard Fouquet ‘Le Marigny’ Vouvray Sec (2) from the Loire Valley is similarly constructed and appealing with toasty, creamy Chenin Blanc fruit and a clean, dry finish. It’s a delicious alternative to Chardonnay. £13.95 down from £14.95.
Spring is here and it’s time to find room in the fridge for some decent pinkers. Happily, there’s no need to look further than the 2019 Mas de Cadenet Côtes de Provence Rosé (4), previous vintages of which we’ve offered very successfully. This pale, pale blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah is as good as ever: lively, faintly spicy and herbal and drinkable. £12.95 down from £13.95.
The 2016 Clos d’Alzan Côtes du Rhône-Villages Signargues (5), a single vineyard wine of great style and modest price, is hearty fare and no mistake. Full, rich and spicy with gloriously succulent ripe, dark fruit, it slips down very, very easily and shows what fine value can still be found in the Rhône. £10.95 down from £11.95.
The 2013 Ch. Trillol (6) from the wild hills of Corbières is the pet project of the Sichel family, you know, as of Chx Angludet and Palmer. A soft, smooth, mellow blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, it’s both fresh and spicy thanks to high altitude vineyards and lots of bright Pays Cathare sunshine. £12.95 down from £13.95.
In addition to this ideal-for-stocking-up-with half dozen, I’ve also selected four fine ready-to-go clarets (8), namely 2010 Ch. Ramafort and 2010 Ch. Les Moines, two corking Cru Bourgeois Médocs from a 10/10 vintage, along with two so-called ‘defrocked’ clarets, the 2012 Saint-Emilion and 2014 Saint-Julien, both of which hail from the most famous estates in the region, which I can’t name but you can guess at if you think of elegant white horses prancing on pretty pebbles.
Finally, since I have no intention of seeing out this wretched coronavirus without a regular supply of fine champagne, I strongly recommend the Arlaux Champagne Premier Cru, Brut Grande Cuvée NV (9). At £31.50 a bottle (down from £32.95), this is astonishingly good value, one of the most enjoyable champagnes I’ve had in ages, produced from Premier Cru vineyards only in the Montagne de Reims. Honeyed and toasty, it’s an absolute cracker!
The regular mixed case (7) has two bottles each of wines 1-6; the Bordeaux case (8) has three bottles each of 2010 Ramfort; 2010 Les Moines; 2012 St Emilion; 2014 St Julien, and the Arlaux Champagne (9) is offered in boxes of six. Delivery, as ever, is free.