Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 9 May

Wine Club 9 May
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I don’t know about you but lockdown is slightly losing its lustre Chez Ray. Joke over, thanks, let’s just get back to normality, whatever the new normality might be.

In the meantime, though, as the drear days of social distancing and isolation turn to weeks and the weeks to months, it’s strange what delight one finds in tiny — often guilty — pleasures. You know, like doing jigsaws for the first time in 50 years, listening to the complete Gilbert and Sullivan, re-reading Dick Francis and Dorothy L. Sayers, cataloguing my heavy metal LPs and scoffing garlic by the bag-load without fear of making folk faint on the Tube. Oh and not shaving. What utter bliss that is!

And, goodness, who knew that doing my nightly exercise by walking through town in the middle of the road for an hour could be such a childish treat?

Of course, the greatest delight is that first glass of vino in the evening. Is it very bad to crave it quite so much? And since spring is in its pomp, what I crave most is rosé. What excellent timing, then, for this very competitive offer of four cracking wines from Le Roi de Rosé himself, Sacha Lichine, via our mates at FromVineyardsDirect.

It has always been Sacha’s sole aim (and that of his late partner, Patrick Léon, former head winemaker at Ch. Mouton-Rothschild) to make the finest rosés in the world at his Ch. d’Esclans estate in Provence. Many critics would say he has succeeded.

2019 The Palm (1) is the estate’s entry level wine, a finely judged blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan, complete with easy-access screwcap and garish capsule and label, apparently inspired by the Nevada brothel school of design. The wine, though, is a joy, being a wonderfully pale pink with buckets of spicy, herbal wild strawberry character. To call it great quaffing wine doesn’t do it justice. £13.95.

The 2019 Whispering Angel (2) is the latest vintage of the wine that made Sacha’s name and, I think it’s fair to say, the wine against which other rosés are judged. An even paler pink than The Palm, it’s a blend of the same red grapes along with a hearty splash of white Rolle (aka Vermentino) and is almost impossible to stop drinking. If you don’t like this, you clearly don’t like rosé. £16.95. And by the way, if you want to prepare for the end of lockdown in style, imperials and double magnums are available on request. Call 020 7549 7900.

The 2019 Rock Angel (3) is a step up, a serious food wine rather than just chill-it-and-neck-it lady petrol. Produced from free-run old vine Grenache and Rolle, part barrel-fermented and part-steel, it’s crisp, summery and elegant with a fine long finish and ample wattage at 14%vol. £23.50.

Finally, 2018 Les Clans (4), about as grown-up a rosé as you’ll ever find. Indeed, shut your eyes, take a long draught and you could be forgiven for thinking it was a top white burgundy or even a Condrieu, so darn stylish and characterful is it. Old vine Grenache, Syrah and Rolle combine to give freshness, creaminess and plenty of sublime, spicy fruit. According to FVD’s Esme Johnstone, it’s the Stradivarius of rosés and, if you’ve pockets deep enough, worth every penny. £39.00.

The mixed dozen has three bottles each of wines 1 and 3 and six bottles of wine 2; the fine mixed half dozen has two bottles each of wines 2, 3 and 4.

There is also a really rather cheering incentive exclusive to Spectator readers. If you order three boxes or more (be they boxes of six or 12 bottles), FVD will lob in a free magnum of 2018 Rock Angel, worth nearly £50. If you order online, simply type ‘SPECCIEROCK’ in the voucher section to nab it.

Delivery, as ever, is free.

Order today