Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 8 October

Wine Club 8 October
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Although many wine merchants are tightening their post-Brexit belts and rationalising their cellars, Yapp Bros have thrown their net ever wider. They might be the 2016 International Wine Challenge Loire Specialist of the Year and ditto for the Rhône, but Yapps have recently been fishing outside their traditional waters, making first-time forays deeper into France and into Germany and Spain.

Wise old truffle-hound that he is, Jason Yapp’s touch clearly hasn’t deserted him and we at The Spectator are the beneficiaries. All the wines below are completely new both to Yapp Bros and The Spectator and each and every one is a delight. And to tempt us even further, Jason has generously lopped a quid off every bottle.

The 2014 Vom Kalkstein Grauer Burgunder (1) — that’s Pinot Gris to you and me — comes from limestone (‘kalkstein’) soil in Pfalz, Germany. Fine Pinot Gris is one of my favourite grapes — not the-crappy Pinot Grigio grown in Italy but the classy Pinot Gris one gets in Alsace and here in Germany. It’s whistle clean, dry but with just a hint of sweetness, and is full of fresh apples and citrus with a fine mineral backbone. It’s perfect as an aperitif or alongside an Asian stir-fry. £8.30 down from £9.30.

The 2013 Staatliche Weinbaudomäne Oppenheim Riesling (2), also from Germany, is a classic of its kind; it’s great to see the Yapps branching out and listing a fine German Riesling for the first time. It’s mouth-tinglingly fruity, with limes, peaches and apricots in the mix, yet it’s dry on the finish with a zingy freshness and a fine acidity. £10 down from £11.

The 2015 Domaine Py ‘3ème Cuvée’ Blanc (3) is much more typical Yapp Bros fare: an organic blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino and Roussanne from Corbières in the Languedoc. Almost all the production here — in Cathar country between Carcassonne and Narbonne — is red, and white Corbières is a delightful rarity. I loved its creaminess and its weight, its notes of peaches and pears and its long savoury-finish. £11 down from £12.

The 2009 Marqués de Zearra Rioja Crianza (4) is a 100 per cent Tempranillo of real panache. With two years in barrel and three years in bottle before release (and a couple since), it’s ripe, juicy and vibrant but soft and gentle too and absolutely ready to go. 2009 was a tip-top vintage in Spain and, as Jason puts it, ‘It’s a crackerjack Rioja that drinks itself.’ So successful has this first-ever purchase of Rioja been that the first consignment sold out before it even made it on to the Yapp list. £9.20 down from £10.20.

Fitou was all the rage a few years ago, a wine-bar constant. But cheapo examples flooded the market and the punters quickly tired of it. The 2015 Domaine des Rebouls Fitou (5) is the best I’ve ever had, made by a small independent producer — Jean-Marc Astruc — who used to supply the big co-operatives but despaired of their low standards and branched out on his own. Blended from Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, it’s quite tannic at first sip. But I sloshed it into a jug, rinsed out the bottle and poured it back and — voilà! — the tannin was gone, leaving behind a deep, dark, smooth, spicy red of enormous character. £11.50 down from £12.50.

The 2013 Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot Poulsard (6) is a charming and very tasty curiosity, a 100 per cent Poulsard (nope, nor me) from the Arbois appellation (huh?) in the Jura, eastern France. The palest of pale brick reds, it’s full of elegant red fruits on the nose and palate and has a surprisingly long, ever so slightly spiced finish. I loved it, knocking it back lightly chilled with a plate of soft cheeses. £11.50 down from £12.50.

The mixed case 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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