Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 8 December

Wine Club 8 December
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Being a veritable martyr to Christmas Affected Doom, Depression and Despondency, I admit to feeling far from chipper. My wife says I should grow up and stop being so bloody grumpy and my boys bait me constantly by whistling ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ and wishing me a cool Yule. Sigh.

I’ve since locked myself away to self-medicate. I started with this very tasty selection from Mr Wheeler and I strongly suggest that you do too.

Thanks to a couple of jolly jaunts to Spain, I’ve rekindled my fondness for the country’s vino, particularly the whites, and the 2017 Bodegas Aquitania Albarino ‘Bernon’ (1) is right up my street. 100 per cent Albariño from Rías Baixas in Spain’s far north-west, it’s fresh, citrusy and creamy and instantly inviting. It has weight, body and none of that annoying spritziness that many cheap Albariños have and it’s a perfect aperitif or partner to fishy first courses. £11.50 down from £12.50.

The 2016 Michel et Sylvain Tête, Domaine du Clos du Fief Bourgogne Blanc (2) is delicious and quirky, being a Chardonnay of real style from the heart of Beaujolais, where almost all the production is red. Burgundy-born and bred and New Zealand-trained, Sylvain Tête makes wines of signal purity and character and if this was from the Côte d’Or, you’d pay half as much again. I’m definitely going to snap up a case. £13.50 down from £15.

The 2017 François Millet Sancerre (3) from fifth generation vigneron Francois Millet, is charming. I’ve probably sunk far too many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs of late and unhinged my palate because I often find Sancerres too darn mineral and austere. This is anything but. Yes, there’s a mineral core but there is richness and ripeness as well and an exhilarating freshness. I’d be amazed if you didn’t love it too. £14.95 down from £16.25.

The 2013 Sumaridge Estate Syrah (4) from the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley in Walker Bay, South Africa, is an old favourite, first encountered at Bientang’s Cave, that crazy restaurant right on the water in Hermanus and the place from which to spot the southern right whales whilst getting gently sozzled in the South African sun. Some 18 months’ barrel age softens the Syrah just so and there is no shortage of rich, ripe, bramble fruit, spice and pepper. Five years’ bottle age has done it no harm either and it’s a cracking value, easy-going red for sure. £11.50 down from £13.50.

The 2015 Ritual Pinot Noir (5) is another delightful cool climate red, but in this instance influenced by the Pacific rather than the Atlantic Ocean. Sustainably farmed in Chile’s Casablanca Valley, hand-harvested and fermented in small open tanks, it’s fresh and cram-packed with juicy, sour cherry fruit interwoven with whispers of spice and silky tannins. £13.95 down from £15.

The 2014 Casa de Uco Vineyard Selection Malbec (6) comes from the Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. This is where Malbec thrives, of course, with plenty of warm, ripening sun during the day and cool, mountain temperatures at night. This is only the second vintage from Casa de Uco and barely 6,500 cases of this violet-scented, herb-laden, densely-flavoured delight were made. If you’re having rib of beef this Christmas then this is for you. £15.95 down from £20.

Finally, as well as the above six corkers, the good folk at Mr Wheeler are offering the mighty 2010 Chateau Musar from the Lebanon as a Christmas treat. Musar needs no introduction to canny, wine-loving readers of The Spectator, where it has long been a favourite and I heartily endorse this latest release. There are only a few cases available so it’s not part of the mixed dozen.

The mixed case has two bottles of each wine (apart from said Chateau Musar) and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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