Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 7 December

Text settings

We’ve Christmas firmly in our sights this week. I’ve written many times here and elsewhere about suffering from that debilitating festive condition known as CADDAD — Christmas Affected Doom, Depression and Despondency — and about how the only known cure is a regular supply of fine vino spaced generously throughout the holiday season. Well, I reckon fellow sufferers and those folk fortunate enough to enjoy this time of year will be more than happy with this selection from Mr Wheeler.

We start with the 2017 Sumaridge Estate Sauvignon Blanc (1) from the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde — ‘Heaven and Earth’ — Valley in South Africa’s Western Cape. This is a blessed spot and one I’ve visited many times, largely to get happily sozzled while gawping at the southern right whales from the terrace of Bientang’s Cave on the water’s edge in nearby Hermanus. Plenty of hot sun cooled by breezes off the bay leads to wines of perfect ripeness and exhilarating freshness here — and this is a prime example. Crisp, tropical and refreshing, it’s a snip at this price. £11 down from £12.50.

The 2017 Montagny 1er Cru ‘Les Coères’ (2) from the Cave des Vignerons de Buxy (which fabled co-operative accounts for around two thirds of Montagny’s production) is also cracking value and surely a must-have at this price. 100 per cent Chardonnay, of course, it’s rich and toasty with nuts, butter and plenty of vibrant citrus fruit. £15 down from £16.25.

Gosh, I enjoyed the 2015 Greenhough Hope Vineyard Pinot Blanc (3). From Nelson, the lesser-known neighbour of Marlborough in the north of New Zealand’s South Island, it’s a wonderfully tasty and rare (for NZ) blend of 94 per cent Pinot Blanc and 6 per cent Pinot Gris. Soft, supple and creamy with exquisitely textured white fruit, it’s deeply seductive. If you like the wines of Alsace, you’ll love it. £18.50 down from £19.50.

The 2012 Salice Salentino Riserva Paololeo (4) is an oak-aged, bottle-aged blend of 80 per cent Negromaro and 20 per cent Malvasia Nera from Salice Salentino in Puglia, in Italy’s deep south. It’s remarkably well-priced for the time and effort that goes into it and is crammed with dark, brooding wild berry/sour cherry fruit, spice and elegant tannin. Richly concentrated, it’s the perfect foil to rib of beef. £12 down from £12.75.

The 2013 Moa Ridge Pinot Noir (5) from Marlborough, New Zealand, is a much lighter, softer proposition altogether and one that Mrs Ray could hardly keep her hands off, sucker as she is for really decent Pinot. And, with sweet, ripe damson/cherry fruit and spicy mushroom on the finish, that’s just what it is: really decent Pinot. £16.50 down from £18.

And if really decent claret is your thing, please consider the 2012 Vieux Château St André (6). As you know, 2012 was a fine Bordeaux vintage and this is really beginning to hit its straps. A Merlot-heavy blend from Montagne Saint-Émilion, it’s produced by Jean-Claude Berrouet, the former winemaker and technical director at mighty Ch. Pétrus, no less. With rich plummy fruit and a long, soft, savoury finish, it’s a truly fine, traditional claret at a cheeringly accessible price. £18.25 down from £19.75.

Finally, just because nobody should be expected to get through the festivities without champers, we’ve the Guilleminot Brut Tradition Blanc de Noirs NV Champagne (7). So-called ‘grower’s champagnes’ are hugely popular currently, being quirkier and more artisanal than the big brands and invariably a heck of a lot cheaper. This 100 per cent Pinot Noir from the Guilleminot family in the Aube Valley in the south of Champagne is a superb example, full of weighty, fresh, yet concentrated red fruit, a fine mousse and plenty of toasty brioche notes on the finish. £23.75 down from £24.50.

The mixed case has two bottles each of wines 1-6. The fizz is available by the unmixed half dozen. Delivery, as ever, is free.