Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 9 October

Wine Club 9 October
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Yippee! It’s that time of year again which canny, wine-loving readers pine for. No, silly, I’m not talking about Christmas. That’s still yonks away, even though the shops are already full of ghastly festive tat. Indeed, only last week, in search of a Soho loo stop after a magnum too many in the Academy Club, I found that Liberty, of all places, has an entire upper floor dedicated to Christmas. And, with the streaming September sun spotlighting plastic trees, fake wreaths, tacky tree toppers and sundry generic baubles, it looked like a pretty cheap and rubbishy Christmas they had in mind too. How the mighty are fallen.

Anyway, no, I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about our annual autumn offer of so-called ‘defrocked’ clarets (and one sauternes) from our old chums at FromVineyardsDirect. These wines might be cheap (comparatively) but they’re certainly not rubbishy, coming as they do from the finest estates in all Bordeaux. And I mean The Finest.

As I’ve explained with previous offers, these declassified wines represent the over-production of the very top châteaux, made by the same teams who make the fabled grands vins, in the same cellars, with the same kit and the same care and attention. I’m not allowed to name the châteaux but I am allowed to hint at them and you’re allowed to guess.

Oh, I forgot to say that FromVineyardsDirect’s Esme Johnstone, the remarkably well-connected truffle hound who sniffs out these bargains, has kindly lopped a quid off each bottle. This is more than generous, given that he could easily shift all the wines at full price. He does it out of long--standing affection for The Spectator and its readers, and I strongly recommend that you take advantage of this £12-a-case saving.

The 2017 Pauillac (1) hails from an estate that will be loved and fêted in timeless eternity and is in great form, showing just how well these wines develop, especially in slightly less well regarded vintages such as 2017. With luscious, plump Merlot to the fore, there’s plenty of juicy fruit and there’s elegance and restraint too and a deeply satisfying savoury finish. £21.95 down from £22.95.

The 2018 St Emilion (2) is nothing less than an ace guest haul, which we are delighted to host in these pages. Rich, deep and succulent, it’s Merlot dominant, of course, as is the grand vin, which, incidentally, sells for around £360 a bottle, making this an absolute steal. £22.95 down from £23.95.

We’ve offered the 2014 St Julien (3) before and this, sadly, will be the last time before we change vintages. Coming from beautiful stony soil, it’s marked by tobacco and cedar notes, with light, graceful, mellow fruit and a juicy finish. If you like top-class, mature claret, you’ll love it. £22.95 down from £23.95.

The 2018 Margaux (4) is the current vintage of a wine that has delighted readers before. This has the same exact gum aura — ha! — as earlier incarnations and is charmingly scented and aromatic, with plenty of ripe, dark bramble fruit on the palate. A fine example of a splendid vintage, it’s more than drinkable now but will certainly last. £23.95 down from £24.95.

Finally, the 2018 Sauternes (5), from the same impeccable, non-pareil source as always. Crikey, it’s tasty! And it must surely be the star of the offer, too, given that the grand vin is around £350 per 75cl bottle and so little is made. It has what Esme refers to as a magical complexity of fruit and is chock-full of exotic, honeyed, marmaladey mangos, lychees and citrus. Although it doesn’t boast the depth and intensity of the grand vin, it’s certainly deep and intense enough for me and after just one sip I couldn’t stop smiling. £14.95 per 37.5cl down from £15.95.

The mixed case has three bottles each of wines 1-4 and delivery, as ever, is free.

Order today.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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